St Aidan’s Catholic Academy is an all-boys Catholic school based in Sunderland with origins dating back to 1928. In April 2013, the school converted to an Academy. With 900 students, St Aidan’s is now a larger than average-size academy. St Aidan’s still, remains true to its founding principles: They are committed to the care and success of every boy in a way that is rooted in the values of the gospel and nurture each and every student and encourage them on their journey to reaching their full potential.
The Academy has an outstanding reputation for academic achievement based on a consistent record of outstanding examination results which continue to improve year on year. Headteacher at St Aidan’s Catholic Academy, Glenn Sanderson recognised that the school’s legacy IT systems were not operating efficiently.
“We have a commitment to high-quality teaching across St Aidan’s and it is important as a school that along with high quality teaching we also have the technology and systems in place to facilitate this”Glenn Sanderson, St Aidan’s Catholic Academy, Headteacher
St Aidan’s were challenged by the increasing reliance on a legacy network with slow connections, and often a poor user experience for both staff and students.
“It really was like working in the dark, we had network bottle necks and there were clearly faults within the existing network design. As a part of our ongoing commitment to ensure students achieve their full potential, the use of technology to aid teaching and learning has become of great importance, underpinning many of the school’s current and future initiatives.
In our search for an IT Service provider we were determined to find the right provider who could address the school’s immediate needs and our future IT ambitions and goals. Smart IT stood out immediately, they had the organisational structure we required, providing a fully managed service desk including, first, second, and third line support.
Daniel Naughton, St Aidan’s Academy, ICT Operational Lead
The technical team and their capabilities along with their passion and drive made them the first choice for IT support for St Aidan’s. There was a real desire to work with us and determination to fix our ongoing issues”
“As a part of the initial audit we spent time on site at St Aidan’s and investing time understanding the existing network and working alongside Dan, the ICT Operational Lead.
We quickly identified that the network was suffering from multiple bottlenecks and faults due to an over complicated network design. We then determined that the storage area network (SAN) was no longer supported by the manufacturer.”Shaun Simpson, Smart IT, Technical Director
The next stage was for Smart IT’s project team to meet with the key stakeholders including the head teacher, the leadership team and teaching staff. It was important to St Aidan’s that everyone has a voice so there was representation from across the school to ensure the project would meet all the school’s IT needs. Understanding how the school operated, the current frustrations and ultimately what did St Aidan’s want to achieve was crucial part of the process.
“We worked in partnership with St Aidan’s, recommending a solution that would not only overcome the current network issues, but optimise and future proof the system and network to allow St Aidan’s to deliver its vision for the school and its students.”Shaun Simpson, Smart IT, Technical Director
The solution was to streamline the network with a complete server refresh, installing two bespoke SAN’s, and rebuilding the network switches. By factory resetting the switches, it allowed them to be reconfigured in a much more manageable and secure way whilst also addressing the challenge of reoccurring speed issues.
The network refresh took place during the school summer break with no disruption to teaching curriculum. In addition to the planned work, Windows 10 was also implemented across the estate.
Using WDS, the current configuration allows new computers to be deployed across the network in under 15 minutes, it also allows for remote patch management and software distribution saving valuable time and offering flexibility.
Not only does this provide a much more efficient, reliable, and secure network, St Aidan’s have also seen a dramatic improvement in the speed of the network overall.
“We now have a robust and reliable network that not only supports the schools needs today, but into the future too. We have faced dramatic changes to how teaching and lessons are delivered to pupils over recent months.
The academy is now ideally placed to adapt and react to the evolving Covid situation. We now have the technology in place that allows us to mirror exactly the teaching curriculum that would in usual circumstances take place in the classroom.
We are delighted to boast a 93% online attendance rate, this is testament to both the partnership we have with parents and the student’s appetite for learning.”Glenn Sanderson, St Aidan’s Academy, Headteacher
Find out how we can support your business