Gateways School in Leeds is looking to the future after appointing IT network specialist Holker to keep their children safe and ensure their school IT is compliant.
The independent school, with 520 students on the roll, aged two to 18, has undergone significant changes in the past sixth months – and they’re already seeing a positive impact.
Karen Titman, Director of Digital Strategy at Gateways School, said their contract with Holker is better preparing the school for the future in a manageable and sustainable way.
Karen explains: “We had a network manager who left to work for another company but kept Gateways as a side contract providing online support.
“Over time it became apparent that having somebody working remotely was causing us quite a few problems and he didn’t really have the time to help.
“We had a lot of niggly problems around school, like printers that weren’t working, which needed somebody on site to fix them.
“Jobs that should only take a few minutes to fix were sometimes taking months while waiting for him to come to site. It was a pain for the staff, and a pain for the students.”
As well as the day-to-day issues, the school were also trying to progress with a campus-wide wireless upgrade project.
“We’d spent around £30,000 on wireless access hardware but they were just sat in a box for six months. We couldn’t leave it to somebody off site. It needed proper management.
‘‘Holker offered the whole package. Being an independent school, the business side of things is just as important to us as the education side. Holker were able to keep an eye on both camps.’’
After appointing Holker, the team visited the school and met with key members of staff. They carried out network diagnostics and listened to what the school wanted to achieve longer term. They took the time to do a handover and develop a knowledge of the existing system.
Karen said: “The maintenance of the IT system had stalled – and the maintenance is crucial. Holker are working on getting this back up to speed.”
In the first few weeks there was a lot of firefighting required due to legacy issues.
“Holker were quick to respond and are still working through a few idiosyncrasies of the network, which are probably going to take a little bit of unpicking.
“In the summer one of our buildings was refurbished and added to our network. The wireless access points have also been installed across the school and are now in use.”
In September 2024, the school plans to expand its technology, offering one to one devices to pupils – adding up to 200 new devices to the network. Holker are currently testing and trialling how to get these devices to work as smoothly as possible.
Karen added: “Holker are very up-to-date and keen to advise on what strategies we need to have in place to keep our children safe and to make sure we are compliant. To have that expertise and that interest is reassuring.
“They’re putting together a plan for the future as to how we replace and upgrade other areas of the system. They’re working with us to ensure that our IT systems are secure, safe and continue to be developed in a controlled and manageable way.’’