Injecting flexibility and innovative new technologies as the contract moves forward
In September 2008, Civica were selected as the ICT managed service provider for the Building Schools for the Future (BSF) programme in Sheffield. Originally only including four schools, the programme eventually covered 25 schools in total – 11 new build schools, 11 refurbishments and three ICT only schools.
Through the BSF programme, Sheffield schools benefitted from combining new, more creative and flexible learning spaces with innovative technology solutions and a citywide managed service. Throughout the duration of our partnership we've improved the service by evaluating the onsite/school-based teams with an appropriate structure of city-wide support all supported by our service desk.
What did we deliver?
- Resilient new school infrastructure including a robust wireless network
- A secure central data centre that included centrally hosted VoIP telephony platform
- A wide range of user devices including desktop PCs, laptops, interactive whiteboards and printers
- A customised learning platform integrated with local school systems and services
- A programme of training that ensured all staff were able to make the most of the new technologies
- TUPE transferred technicians supported by Civica staff and our service desk.
Customising the solution for each school
Every school was unique, with different requirements and challenges based on size, specialism, phase and type of build. So, although there was a core provision of ICT infrastructure, services and support, Civica worked with each school to deploy the solution to suit their individual needs and ICT vision. They continue to benefit from strategic planning, at the heart of which are each schools individual priorities.
Throughout the process, productive working relationships with multiple partners was essential. Working with senior leadership teams at the schools, Sheffield City Council, the Local Education Partnership (LEP), builders and facilities management companies, all underpinned the success in Sheffield. The hard work in developing strong working relationships with all partners led to us winning the Most Effective ICT Partnership award with Sheffield City Council at 2009's Excellence in BSF Awards.
A key tool, built specifically for Sheffield schools to deliver a more flexible and innovative approach to learning delivery is the LearnSheffield Managed Learning Environment (MLE). This was built on Microsoft SharePoint technology, developed and customised in tandem with teachers so that it delivered against specific school outcomes.
"We have a close and productive working relationship with Civica who work hard to accommodate the individuality of our schools." Andy Wynne, Sheffield City Council
Delivering reliable quality
- Every school opened on time with all core ICT systems operational with no delays
- Streamlined processes with better prioritisation for a more responsive service
- Significantly reduced outstanding call volume to an average of around 10 per school
- Successfully managed 11 school refurbishments undertaking multiple decants
- All TUPE staff were retained and 10 staff have since been promoted
- Established a new projects process with Vinci Construction to deliver integrated ICT solutions
- Customised LearnSheffield for every school supported by our E-Learning consultants.
What makes Civica different?
Since the beginning Civica have worked hard to deliver a responsive service that goes beyond contract deliverables. Through Civica's Partnership Managers, we deliver customised support to help schools through challenging periods such as:
- Additional support services throughout exam periods
- Working with Special Education Needs (SEN) schools to design an ICT solution that caters to the very specific needs of their students.
- Undertaking ICT healthchecks in preparation for Ofsted inspections
- Regular curriculum reviews so that they have the ICT needed to deliver lessons
- Future proofing solutions so that schools can keep pace with advances in technology
What's next for Sheffield?
Times have changed, technology moves on and school priorities evolve, so Civica is working with Sheffield City Council and individual schools to modernise the service for the future.
With advances in cloud technology (Microsoft and Google) came the opportunity for us to work with Sheffield schools in taking LearnSheffield to another level. Supporting teachers to deliver learning in new and exciting ways, engaging students with relevant communication technologies and extending learning beyond the school.
Deploying mobile technology through Bring Your Own Device (BYOD)
Mobile technology is breaking down physical barriers to learning. We are working with Sheffield schools to implement BYOD projects with a view to increasing student access to devices, allowing schools to keep up with of the latest technologies and increase student engagement.
Extending learning with virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI)
VDI infrastructure is being implemented to extend learning with remote access to the school network, providing flexibility for staff, enabling them to access resources and applications on the school network any time, anywhere and on any device. VDI also allows schools to stretch their budget further my extending the life of user devices.
"The best thing about Civica has been the flexibility of the staff concerned. They're not operating from a rule book, they're there to help you deliver the service and it's been very satisfying working with them." Jeremy Twyman, Deputy Head Teacher at King Edward School VI
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