Many independent schools celebrate a rich heritage stretching back hundreds of years. But what happens when tradition meets twenty-first century networking needs?
First established in the 13th century, Lincoln Minster School’s historic reputation is matched only by its reputation for excellence.
With a history spanning 1,000 years, the independent school rightly celebrates its traditional roots, but this hasn’t prevented it from developing in line with modern advancements.
Medieval architecture sits comfortably alongside state-of-the-art science buildings and IT suites, painting a clear picture of a historic establishment unafraid of embracing twenty-first century education.
“The school might celebrate its traditional roots, but this hasn’t prevented it from developing in line with modern advancements.”
For older schools modernising their IT infrastructure for the first time, or other independents looking to upgrade an out-of-date network, this process is not always so harmonious.
When the old meets the new
Challenges are often unique to the institution in question, but there are some common obstacles older sites experience when looking to future proof their network and IT infrastructure.
- Aging wiring
In an effort to preserve traditional features, many public schools are long overdue wiring maintenance and upgrades. When they approached us, Lincoln Minster was one such school identifying “an ageing wired network and no wireless across its historic city centre campus”.
Faulty or out-of-date wiring has direct impact on pupils’ and teachers’ ability to engage with the network, but the prospect of carrying out work on heritage buildings deters many IT heads from pushing forwards.
Among Bedales School’s historic settings in rural Hampshire, occasional cable damage as among their challenges. The cause: vermin. It is much easier for rats and other small animals to gain access to older, more traditional buildings, increasing the risk of chewed wiring and other damage to physical hardware.
- Integration of new hardware into traditional buildings
Many of the buildings where lessons are held simply weren’t built to accommodate modern technology. This can make integrating desktops and other technologies into the classroom much more challenging than it is with modern facilities, which are typically built around these requirements from the planning stage.
- Replicating or restoring traditional features
Underpinning most of the challenges around IT integration into traditional settings is a concern over damage to traditional aesthetics. From wiring to the installation of hardware, institutions can be reluctant to approve site-wide IT upgrades that they worry could damage the look and character of their personal history.
The secret to successful modernisation
An IT service provider that understands the importance of a school’s character and the traditional values at its core can ensure infrastructure is upgraded without impacting the look or character of the school.
The secret to successful modernisation across historic schools is promoting organisational change.
Traditional mindsets are often the most difficult to sway, making it difficult for IT managers and heads of IT to get the approval they need for upgrades in the first place. Research we conducted last year appears to support this, with 71% of education IT professionals struggling to convince senior staff of the benefits of a network upgrade.
How well is your school balancing illustrious history with twenty-first education?
On its About page, Lincoln Minster School describes itself as “A modern school with a proud history.”
In line with the institution’s rich history, this statement also surmises the healthy balance many independents are striving to adopt between tradition and progression.
Lincoln Minster School seems to have found the balance between illustrious history and a twenty-first century education. What are your independent’s experiences?
Have your say
Our commitment to understanding the unique challenges faced in education has led us to produce an annual research report, The State of IT in Education.
The survey collects responses from top educational providers across the UK, resulting in a full report aimed at better understanding emerging themes and trends, and the challenges senior IT professionals face in this sector.
Take 10 minutes to contribute your opinion to the report, scheduled for release in early 2018, and gain insights into the challenges faced by education organisations throughout the UK. Use these insights to inform key IT decisions for 2018, improving the state of IT for your education organisation and the pupils it benefits.