SGS Berkeley Green

A new University Technical College

The Challenge

SGS Berkeley Green is a new University Technical College, part of the wider South Gloucester and Stroud College Trust.

The college opened in September 2017, following over two years’ work to bring vision to reality on site of the former Berkeley Laboratories. One of sixty UTC’s planned nationally, it provides specialist, high quality vocational and academic education for learners aged 14-18 with a strong interest in Advanced Manufacturing, Digital Technologies and Cyber Security.

With some £2million investment in infrastructure and equipment scheduled before the college launched, the support and advice of an educational ICT specialist was essential and, following a tender for an RM1050 ESFA contract in April 2017, Gaia Technologies was appointed ICT partner in May the same year. Having already worked with a number of UTC’s across the country to ensure their technological infrastructure is capable of meeting educational ambitions, Gaia impressed with its mix of experience, technical support and flexible approach.

What We Did

Gaia were contracted to deliver all the ICT into new build UTC opening in September 2017. The ICT solution was designed by Gaia after consultation with SGS technical team and the new UTC staff. Gaia Technologies offered a remote third line managed service to UTC Berkeley and will be working on other trust schools over the next 5 years.

Gaia worked alongside Berkeley UTC at every stage of the project; providing strategic leadership support; advice on the curriculum and new technology as well as specifying everything from the ICT infrastructure through to individual devices and software packages that have the greatest educational impact.

Gaia also had a working partnership with the trust ICT advisor, in order to successfully design and implement all the ICT ready for September 2017 go live. Regular communication with builders, SGS Trust and UTC SLT and Gaia project team ensured the solution was delivered on time and on budget

The result is a £15 million institution with a host of state-of-the-art facilities – including an Innovation Hub and a SOC centre with two Cyber Security Labs – that will enable students to hone skills in key areas. The college has also formed partnerships with leading industry players to offer students the chance to work on real-life projects and to forge links for future employment.

The Outcome

The following are some of the key technologies provided as part of the UTC delivery project:

  • New Cisco network, including switches and complete internal and external wireless, and backup software and HP Servers.
  • 150 Fujitsu desktops, laptops and 130 Acer Notebooks/Chargers.
  • 21 84” Smart LED interactive screens on a mix of fixed and mobile electric stands.
  • 2 (3X3) Samsung Video walls and audio systems in the SOC teaching room and 6 LG digital signage screens.
  • Sophos Web Filtering and Security Software.
  • Staff training and ICT support from day 1.

Gaia also worked with strategic partners such as Fujitsu and SGS to add best value. For example Gaia are sponsoring education projects and donating server technology in the flagship Cyber Security Special Operations Centre.

A main requirement of the UTC set out the need for every student to have a personal mobile device in order to navigate the technology-focused curriculum. Having a 1:1 student to device ratio would also aid teaching staff to effectively plan their use in the classroom.

The Acer Spin B118 laptop was recommended by Gaia as a lightweight, hybrid, easy-to-use device for all age groups. Since allocating the devices to students in September 2017, the UTC has been reaping the benefits. Student’s digital literacy in the use of mobile technology for the working environment is greatly enhanced. The devices have also enabled the UTC to utilise collaboration and communications technologies used in industry, such as Microsoft Teams. For example, a recent project day required students to work in small teams to plan a mobile app for the National Biodiversity Network. The devices were extensively used in the interface design, collaboration and presentation of their work to the NBN’s director.

The devices have also been crucial in the UTC making effective use of Microsoft OneNote Class Notebooks, enabling teachers to create content and distribute it to students (individual or groups) to their section and allowing them to see, in real time, where students are; thus facilitating a strong feedback loop. A wireless network adapter has provided strong performance, particularly given the number of devices in use at any one point, and has ensured students are always ready and able to learn.

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