Charles Darwin School

ICT infrastructure to support teaching and learning

The Challenge

Gaia was appointed to provide this new build primary school within the Inspiration Trust group with a robust ICT infrastructure, to not only support teaching and learning, but also for support of the adminisitration roles. The project involved the design and implementation of a full technical solution for the school including the provision, installation and commissioning of hardware and software.

From the outset, the school determined that ‘ICT must not be provided for its own sake’ – instead be driven by teaching and learning. This is something that Gaia took on board in the CCS RM1050 ICT Services for Education framework bid process. Gaia designed a solution that went beyond simply supplying the school with the ICT infrastructure specified. Gaia also recommend solutions compatible with the Trust’s existing ICT strategy that would also add value to the factors that distinguish the school.

In addition to an accessible technical solution, Gaia also offered specific digital resources to support key subjects such as English literature, history and maths. Through the Gaia 3D portal staff have access to a unique set of tools designed to help teachers to motivate students and make learning fun and interesting. This includes an extensive range of digital models, simulations and immersive visualisation environments.

What We Did

In order to help ensure that the project aims were fully met, Gaia ran a series of workshops before signing contracts, enabling the solution to be tailored and value engineered to meet the school’s exact requirements.

Following Gaia’s appointment in early 2016, a review and planning meeting based on the EFA agenda was held in March between the school, Gaia representatives and EFA consultant, Martin Coleman. During this meeting, a series of design workshops and meetings on specific subjects were outlined and agreed. Each meeting had a clearly defined set of objectives, a list of essential and optional attendees and information required for the meeting. Additional meetings to ensure integration with the building design and programme were also scheduled and all design workshops held.

Following these workshops the specification was agreed, with Gaia appointed to supply and install UPS; LAN; Wireless LAN and Server infrastructure; Digital Signage; Mobile Interactive LED teaching walls and assembly hall AV, Fixed and Mobile User Devices and also Desktop Printers, MFD and Print Management Systems. The core solution was highly optimised in order to reduce the hardware cost.

Construction work started 11th June 2016, with the target date of staff occupation by the 1st September and student occupation by the 7th September, presenting tight timescales. During this period, Gaia worked closely with building contractors to plan and manage works on a site that included the refurbishment of an existing office building. Challenges included significant delays to building works, with Gaia taking several steps to mitigate the situation including the delivery of systems to an existing Inspiration Trust site. Gaia also stepped in to provide costs for the provision of data cabling through a sub-contractor, with the Main Contractor eventually undertaking these works itself.

The Outcome

With construction works complete, Gaia then carried out training to help teaching staff make full and effective use of the new teaching technology at their disposal. There was a period of initial needs analysis that included a strategic meeting with the head teacher, the completion of staff confidence surveys and a follow-on meeting with head teacher to analyse results and plan programme. Based on this analysis, Gaia delivered three days on-site floor-walking and conducting training alongside initial Smart Notebook training. Follow-up training was planned for March, where staff will be able to raise any questions from their practice following initial training.

In addition to helping staff get to grips with the new teaching technology, an Impact Project was carried out. Gaia consultant Joe Basketts worked alongside teacher Caitlin Peck who, having never used Green Screen before, was keen to explore the medium. With the class English focus on writing sentences, Joe and Caitlin planned script around that objective. All children were tasked with writing their own sentences to read out while Caitlin filmed assisted by Joe, before she edited the green screen footage. Following a few final edits from Joe, the final video can be viewed here: https://youtu.be/-eCM4dv7vwY. Caitlin is now going to work with the rest of the staff to upskill them in Green Screen; making this a sustainable project that can continue to run in the future.

Following the success of initial training, the next sessions focussed on Google Apps and computing curriculum training. Gaia is keen to deliver a further Impact Project at a time to suit the school

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