Draper's Academy

Drapers’ Academy teaches 1,100 11-16 year olds and 200 post-16 students

The Challenge

A High School and Sixth Form Academy serving the Harold Hill area of Greater London, Drapers’ Academy teaches 1,100 11-16 year olds and 200 post-16 students. Part of the Havering family of schools, its specialism is in maths and science. The lead sponsor The Drapers’ Company, is joined by co-sponsor Queen Mary, University of London, to offer its world-class expertise in these fields.

The academy opened on a temporary site in September 2010 whilst work was carried out on new, purpose-built accommodation into which staff and students moved at the start of the 2012 academic year. With the move to the new site came the need to appoint an ICT partner to provide the infrastructure. The aim was to enable the school to deliver its maths and science specialisms, which are integrated throughout the curriculum, in an innovative and exciting way.

Gaia was appointed through the Becta Framework; selected from a total of fourteen suppliers with the remit of providing high performance networking and ICT facilities to support teaching and learning. The relationship has continued ever since, with Gaia later engaged to offer a full ICT support service.

What We Did

We provided Draper’s Academy with a robust foundation. The academy’s network solution needed to provide a highly capable, secure and reliable infrastructure and Gaia’s proposal was a key factor in its winning the contract. The tailored specification is based on a Dual Core Cisco Network with Cisco Edge and Wireless solutions and HP Blade servers. Other features include:

  • Hyper V Virtualisation to maximise Server security, performance and availability.
  • Citrix to provide secure, remote access facilities for teachers and students.
  • An e-safety solution that features SmoothWall filtering and Impero device / user management.

The network has been in use since 2012 and has proven its worth in meeting the performance and security requirements for both staff and students.

Gaia provided expansion and support. An additional benefit of the network solution Gaia engineered is that it can be easily expanded without major re-engineering or cost. This is a feature that the academy has recently exploited by extending services to provide for two of its partner primary schools. The service is now a multi-site network that provides fully integrated services for all users.

At the start of the contract, the academy provided its own, in-house ICT support service, but difficulties in attracting and retaining suitably qualified personnel to operate it led the school to enquire into Gaia support services. Impressed by the offering, the academy switched to a fully managed ICT support service; taking the strain off the school management team. Included within the package is a regular, visiting engineer service, back-up by an ITIL compliant helpdesk and on-call specialist engineering support on a year-by-year contract agreement. With the support having been in place since 2013, the academy took the step of committing to its use for 4 continuous years.

The Outcome

We brought vision to reality. One particular aim of the school was to ensure that all 6th form students have their own iPad to support independent study. While the school could have procured the devices direct, the administration involved would have been significant. Gaia has been able to work with the academy to bring its 1:1 scheme to fruition, with 120 6th form students currently benefiting from a scheme that started in 2014. Supported by parental contribution, the devices are provided with inclusive software licences, insurance and support. Gaia has also negotiated an inclusive, 3-year rolling replacement arrangement that sees the device ownership transferred to its user after a 3-year period and a new, replacement device provided.

Most importantly we provide an on going partnership between Gaia and Draper’s Academy. Building on the success of the model at Drapers’ Academy, in 2013, the Drapers’ Academy Trust took on a junior school in the Harold Hill area. They created the Drapers’ Brookside Junior School with the aim of offering pupils “an excellent education and create opportunities that they have previously not had available”. Gaia was appointed to roll out the network solution and provide ICT support to Brookside. Following a bid under the EFA Framework, Gaia has also been contracted to provide similar services for the trust’s latest addition – the Drapers’ Maylands Primary School. It opened in September 2015 and is set to move to new purpose-built accommodation under construction alongside the main academy.

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