Marland School

Marland School

Marland School benefits from a new Mitel Connect telephone system that seamlessly links to other sites alongside internet connectivity, Wi-Fi and web filtering that befits an educational environment.


Marland School is one of 10 special schools in the Devon-wide SENtient Co-operative Foundation Trust and is maintained by Devon Local Authority. It caters for year four to 11-year-old students who experience social, emotional and mental health needs and is located on two separate sites in North Devon – a day school in Barnstaple and a residential school in Peters Marland.


The school was on the verge of adding a new wing to the Peters Marland site. They had also taken on two additional special schools that they wished to connect to via a centralised telephony, internet, Wi-Fi and filtering solution.


They were using an ageing Toshiba telephone system and with the news that the manufacturer was pulling out of the telephony marketplace, Marland School took the decision to upgrade to a VoIP solution that would be easier to manage in house and would meet their growing needs.


An investment in a multi-site telephony solution can seem financially daunting but swcomms advised Marland School to migrate from traditional ISDN lines, which are being phased out, to internet-based voice services to find ongoing savings.


Free calls and reduced line rentals are among the many benefits associated with SIP, meaning these savings could offset expenditure. SIP also allows them to pull the telephone numbers from each of the schools into the new centralised solution.


To achieve SIP voice connectivity, Marland School needed an internet connection that could support both the school’s data needs and provide quality of service for effective voice use.


They had been using internet connectivity and web filtering services from South West Grid for Learning but opted for our education-focussed and competitively priced alternatives.


We provided a 100Mbps internet leased line to the school. This superior connection is ideal for supporting SIP services, which meant we could deploy a Mitel Connect VoIP telephone system at the Peters Marland site and link to the Barnstaple campus and Springfield Day Centre in Bideford via new connections.


This united the three as one. Calls can be received and transferred between the sites with ease while still retaining the separate telephone numbers for each one.


Other benefits of the Mitel Connect include:

  • Resilience and reliability
  • Easy growth – in terms of users and extra sites
  • User friendly
  • Easily upgradeable so future proof


The Mitel Connect is feature rich with a full automated attendant to relieve the pressure on receptionists, especially during the early morning period when incoming calls tend to peak. An absence voicemail allows parents to report pupil illness without having to wait to speak to a receptionist.

Voicemail messages can be remotely recorded in the event staff cannot reach the school, e.g. on a snow day, or when returning from a school trip. And messages can be recorded on site to report timings of sports days, parents’ evenings, etc. so reception staff do not have to repeat themselves to multiple callers.


Voicemail and voicemail-to-email notifications are available for all users to eliminate the use of paper messages tucked in registers while staff can also use selective call recording to remind themselves of the details of any call. All handsets come with tannoy facilities to alert staff to an emergency situation.

Staff that move around the school can use a PIN to login to any handset to support hot desking while their mobile devices can be twinned with their desk handsets so they can remain contactable wherever they are working.


In addition to the new telephone system, Marland School opted for swcomms’ recommended web filtering solution designed specifically for schools. Not only does Smoothwall offer control over what web content students should or shouldn’t see by dynamically filtering out potentially harmful content, it also meets of the demands of the Prevent Duty Guidance.


Smoothwall gives in-house control to the IT staff by allowing them to filter by year groups and define networks for academic and administration purposes without having to raise a ticket and wait for their job to come to the top of the pile. Social media, file sharing, instant messaging and other potential distractions can be blocked or managed effectively. The IT team can gain access to reports on web traffic, device usage, etc.


Marland has put the care of its Wi-Fi and data network in swcomms hands too. Cisco Meraki access points are deployed at all sites which can all be monitored via a cloud-based management tool. The same tool can monitor the devices using the Wi-Fi network too, including non-corporate devices.


swcomms now looks after all of Marland School’s telephony, Wi-Fi, internet connectivity and web filtering services.


We have 35 years of experience in the education sector. Schools make up 13% of our customer base so we are well placed to take care of Marland School. Our service desk and account management team provide full support and ensure their communications services remain operational and optimised for their critical needs.


swcomms listened to the schools’ growing needs and designed a solution that meets our requirements now and into the future. We now have a full communications solution from one supplier, so we only need to every turn to them if an issue arises or if we need to expand further.


“From sales through to project management and support, swcomms has been a pleasure to deal with.” 
IT manager Jason Cox


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