Ringwood School27th Nov 2020
Ringwood School is a Secondary Academy based in Hampshire, offering outstanding education for students aged 11-18. In 2011 Ringwood School was one of the first schools in the country to become a ‘Teaching School’. This prestigious status allows them to work collaboratively with many other schools and gives them access to an exceptionally wide range of opportunities. A big part of school life is the successful collaboration and communication between staff and students. Improving operational efficiency is always high on their list and this is where our story starts.
Sam Coombes is the Facilities Manager at Ringwood School, overseeing all site and facility related issues and practices, including new build and refurbishment projects. Sam was looking for a systems provider local to the school with a good reputation who was well versed in the business communications sector. Foresolutions were found to be, quite literally, ‘just around the corner’ and in his words “from first contact Foresolutions were able to react promptly to our needs.”
Ringwood School use a radio system to allow around 25 users to communicate quickly around the school. They have a vast campus comprising 13 buildings and nearly 18 acres, and they needed a solution which would work reliably both indoors and outdoors. Previous 2-way radio systems have struggled internally on the site, as the age of some buildings mean walls are 2ft thick concrete. Another problem with the existing PMR radio solution was that it picks up the channels of the neighbouring Leisure Centre who could also hear school communications. A new solution needed to be put in place for Data Protection reasons, to ensure that all interaction reminded within the school premises.
As we started to work through Sam’s requirements it soon became apparent that our ability to offer alternative communication and tracking technology could provide even more value and a more robust response in addition to the two-way radio route.
Two Way Radios
The Hytera system was a great fit for Sam, providing an instant and reliable contact facility for the site, medical and cleaning teams and support staff who are working directly with students throughout the day. Sam states: “It achieves all what we needed it to and more. We are able to communicate within a certain range outside of the school too, which is especially useful when some staff are undertaking home visits.” Another benefit of radio solutions is that they will help with managing people flow, social distancing and handsfree communications.
The school also operates a fleet of vehicles for ground maintenance and minibuses. We have provided an instant tracking facility for four of these vehicles. “I can now find out the whereabouts of any vehicle in an instant and understand where it is travelling – even our tractor! The system also gives peace of mind on our insurance policies,” added Sam. Not only does this offer logistical benefits, but also gives peace of mind to parents that the school always knows where students are when using school vehicles for offsite visits or sports fixtures.
Another element of school life which needed to be considered were the offsite visits.
“We offer in excess of 60 offsite visits every year, and these need a method of communication back to school, particularly for visits overseas. Foresolutions provided a pool of mobile phones on a great tariff which allow uninhibited mobile data use both in the UK and abroad at great value. This allows our staff to keep in touch, but also work remotely and access material that may be required for teaching and learning outside of school,” enthused Sam. We have also made sure that all the mobiles are set up with Mobile Device Management (MDM) software which allows Sam to control them from a portal. This is a great way of helping to maintain GDPR compliance and enable lost or stolen devices to be remotely locked and wiped.
“We are delighted that we were able to demonstrate the value of an integrated solution that now delivers so much more functionality and reassurance for Sam and the team at Ringwood School. All of their needs were met with our out of the box solutions, however we also have the flexibility to integrate into other systems to provide a tailored solution.Many schools and education establishments have been using two-way radio technology for years, however not all are aware of the improvements that have been made recently, the value of upgrading their equipment and the benefits of working with a business communications, IoT and tracking specialist such as ourselves to help identify further improvements that the right tech can bring to facilities and communications management.”
Tom Ross, Managing Director Foresolutions Ltd