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Meeting the Initial Challenges
Feltham Community College is a specialist sports and ICT College for students aged 11 to 18, located in the London Borough of Hounslow. The College currently has 1,200 pupils and 150 members of staff.
It was apparent to the SLT that the existing ICT equipment and Support team was not able to provide the quality of ICT service required to match the College’s new specialist status and aspirations. Acting swiftly, the SMT looked to the College’s future and the Hounslow BSF programme (due in 2012), and took the bold decision to procure a Managed Service Partner in advance of BSF. The College then requested proposals- from all companies approved by the BECTA ICT Services Framework - to provide a 3 year fully managed ICT service contract to support all of its ICT.
The College was looking for a long term partner who would help build staff, student and parental confidence, in order to allow the College to improve the quality of teaching and learning, and to allow teachers more time to focus on teaching
The college was also keen to be guided by the selected partner to adopt the principles of BECTA’s E Strategy, namely; transforming teaching and learning; engaging hard-to-reach learners; building an open accessible system; achieving greater efficiency and effectiveness
Also of key importance was that costs were kept to a minimum, that on-site support staff were provided with real value and services and that effectiveness could be measured by using transparent performance indicators and criteria
Local, Friendly and Approachable
It was important to the College that the new service should enable students and teachers to have access to new facilities that would have an immediate impact on learning and teaching and help raise achievement. The College was seeking an ICT partner that would be credible and approachable to senior management and would represent a local, friendly and approachable organisation capable of giving a personal service, not just a voice at the end of a telephone line.
After a thorough tender exercise, Gaia Technologies plc were selected as the College’s preferred partner.
Deliverables and Outcomes
Gaia immediately set-up a Project Team with a dedicated PRINCE2 Accredited Project Manager to oversee the programme of works, liaise with all parties and become the key link between Gaia and the College.
As well as the full integration of the College legacy ICT systems and facilities, the service also included a refresh program, which provides renewal of all PC’s, Notebooks and User Devices on a rolling 3 year cycle.
The initial challenges that had to be overcome, included addressing the dramatic loss of confidence in ICT that had been endured by staff and the extremely tight timescales imposed by the procurement process.
The early works therefore were all about stabilising the existing network, restoring confidence and carefully preparing the way for the new Managed ICT Service. Which included commissioning new Servers, commissioning a new email system, building and distribute 400 new Laptops, establishing and setting up up a new Helpdesk
Joint Selection of Staff
Among these early priorities was the need to recruit the right on-site Technical Team to run the new Managed Service. Feltham College wanted to be part of the selection process, and Gaia accommodated this by making college representatives an integral part of the interview and selection process.
Gaia Technologies understands the importance of winning over all the staff and students quickly, and this is a key element that is always given a great deal of attention for any establishment transitioning to a Managed ICT Service.
This was accomplished in three ways. Firstly, the project had an executive level sponsor Project Manager, who was personally involved through every stage.
Secondly, Gaia provided a very hands-on and proactive Account Management service and thirdly, Gaia provided an additional onsite technician, at no extra cost for the first twelve months of the service specifically to help with the transition and to support other existing staff to adjust to a new service.
It is this level of focus and attention to detail, combined with Gaia’s culture and passion for customer care that has enabled a successful partnership with the college to flourish. This is also echoed in Gaia’s overa
ll flexible and pragmatic approach, which provides a framework under which the Managed Service can constantly evolve and adapt to meet the college’s requirements as they change from year to year.
Equipment, software and support services can be removed or added to the contract as required, in an agreed, simple and sustainable manner.
Gaia and Feltham Community College continually review ongoing successes and challenges, with a view to agreeing how to adapt and configure the managed service to best meet the college’s future strategic aims and objectives.
Partnership, Benefits and Annual Audit
Gaia’s commitment to customer satisfaction and service quality includes an annual service review carried out by an independent auditor. This review samples feedback from students, middle managers and the senior management team. Below are highlights from the first audit looking back over the first twelve months of service:
“Prior to the Gaia managed service starting everything seemed to be working but it wasn’t, and so confidence faded. It is fair to say now that confidence has picked up again. My impression is that teachers are more confident, that the system is worth preparing for and engaging with. Hardware is staying up for longer and response times are much quicker and a good indicator is that English and Maths don’t complain anymore, whereas they used to do so all the time.”
“Email and communication through the use of IT has picked up an awful lot. Teachers are saving time by communicating through email, rather than leaving phone messages. It is the access to people through having a system that works that has made the real difference, organising visits and links with the junior schools, has just created a whole new world. It is brilliant.”
“The Head Teacher did a Podcast this morning speaking to the children whilst actually at home working on a strategy for change paper, so it is fantastic to now see that sort of thing happening.”
“We are now getting a professional service, where you are comfortable in raising a concern and know that it will get dealt with in a professional manner. They are nice guys who are very approachable and thorough.”
“Generally the Gaia technicians are absolutely brilliant and they will drop anything to help you, I also love the way they can go on remotely as my office is probably the furthest away from them, it is absolutely great.”
Transformational Learning via ICT
The first twelve months were about creating a robust, reliable ICT infrastructure and an effective curriculum-focused support service. Gaia has successfully established this, clearly meeting all of the College’s initial objectives.
By creating a firm foundation they have paved the way for the College to confidently move forward and build on these early successes. The second year of the service focused more on the demanding objectives associated with embedding the use of ICT across the curriculum and meeting the objectives set in BECTA’s E-Strategy.
- transforming teaching and learning
- engaging hard-to-reach learners
- building an open accessible system
- achieving even greater efficiency and effectiveness