Creating a community with better connections

Four schools in Hampshire wanted to join forces in order to offer better opportunities to all their students by combining their skills and resources. By working with BT, they were not only able to save money on their network, they were also given a solution that was fast and easy to manage.

When Bay House Academy, Brune Park Community School, Gomer Junior School and LWS Academy combined to become a Multi-Academy Trust called GFM, they knew that they needed a reliable network that could handle up to 4000 students. They wanted to share information, software packages and equipment, they needed a better connection and faster speeds.

Each school was paying a significant amount of money to their Local Authority for network access as well as individual firewalls. “All four schools were each paying £56,000 a year, just for their broadband,” explains Ross Evans, Founder and CEO of Real Essential IT Solutions – the company hired to ensure that GFM got the right network. “And one site was paying them £165,000 a year just for their equipment.” As well as the cost, the speed was only 100Mbps, and if they wanted to unblock certain sites, the staff would have to contact Hampshire Local Authority and wait days for it be actioned.

Working with a BT Account Manager and a team of experts, GFM were given a Virtual Private Network that has the speed and capacity they needed, as well as slashing their costs. A BTnet dedicated leased line internet access circuit was placed into Bay House Academy, with a Short Haul Data Service (SHDS) running to the other schools nearby. They also got a Smoothwall Firewall security solution, which allowed the schools to control their own settings as well as see how the children were using their devices.

The system set-up has the capacity for other schools to join the GFM – by adding more Short Haul Data Services to the network – and is soon to have a resilient failover circuit, so that if anything happens to their exchange, it can move over to another one.

I knew that we needed a leased line, and I knew that BT could do it. Gomer School has gone from almost unusable to ‘wow’. I’m really happy with how it’s gone.

Ross Evans, Founder and CEO of Real Essential IT Solutions

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