Bungay High School is a mixed secondary school situated in Suffolk, which also comprises a sixth form centre located less than a mile away. It currently has approximately 1,500 students, aged 11 to 18 years, in total across two sites.
Founded in 1565, the school achieved academy status in 2011 and prides itself on its strong working relationship with parents. Bungay High School also leads the North Suffolk Skills Academy (NSSA) and works closely with two feeder schools, Bungay Primary and Edgar Sewter Primary.
Technology has helped transform the classroom over the last decade. From students conducting online research to teachers integrating digital content into lesson plans, the internet has become pivotal to the learning experience pupils at Bungay High School receive.
However, the increased use of laptops and online learning platforms such as Moodle added a significant strain to the school’s existing bonded ADSL internet connection. In the past, the joining of multiple broadband lines had proven to be an adequate solution, but the greater demands placed upon the network meant that it struggled to cope, and speed and reliability dropped as a result.
Rick Hekkenberg, IT and Network Manager at Bungay High School, said: “The rising number of devices connecting to the internet meant our bandwidth was reaching full capacity. Students would have to wait for videos to finish buffering and, in some instances, they wouldn’t even be able to access online materials. Entire lesson plans would have to be reworked if they involved YouTube because of the slow speeds. It was hindering our ability to deliver an interactive learning experience.”
The school also required a fast and reliable internet connection for administrative use and to regularly back-up its data as part of its disaster recovery plan.
In 2013, staff at Bungay High School turned to the team at Daisy and tasked them with finding a solution to the problems it faced.
After looking into the school’s data usage and knowing it wasn’t located in a fibre-enabled area of the country, Daisy specialists identified that the school needed a leased line – a dedicated, high-speed internet connection which offers symmetrical upload and download speeds.
“Leased lines had previously been discussed as an option, though our budget at the time couldn’t quite stretch to it and the ADSL solution was meeting our requirements. Our account manager explained that costs for this type of connectivity solution had dropped and, better still, in our case it could be installed without any upfront costs. Without this kind of proactive assistance, we would still be using the insufficient solution,” said Rick.
A 30Mbps leased line was subsequently installed to ease the burden on the school’s network, however it was the upgrade to a 100Mbps connection in 2015 that would have the greatest impact. Not only did the upgrade guarantee faster speeds and more reliability, but it also allowed Bungay High School to implement a virtual private network (VPN). This has enabled both staff and students to securely access the school’s network and resources such as Moodle outside of the classroom.
It was also agreed that Daisy would handle the security of the school’s network with a managed firewall, helping protect it from viruses, malware and hackers.
Since implementing the leased line, VPN and the fully-managed firewall, Bungay High School has seen a range of improvements and benefits.
Rick said: “The difference the leased line has made to the school has been nothing short of amazing. So much so that Bungay High School is about to become one of the first schools in Suffolk to move our entire infrastructure to the cloud. This has only been made possible thanks to the connectivity solution, which is backed up by robust service level agreements, which Daisy provides us with.”
But the 100Mbps leased line has meant the school benefits from more than just faster speeds and a more reliable connection.
Rick added: “Having a virtual private network means we can now offer students access to the school’s Moodle platform from home, and staff are no longer forced to work on site during school holidays. The solution also enables us to quickly perform regular backups to help protect our valuable data.”
Bungay High School was so pleased with the solutions it received that it recommended Daisy to work with its two feeder primary schools and the North Suffolk Skills Academy. Today, each one has its own dedicated internet connection provided by the same supplier, meaning the four sites now form part of a “connected learning network”.