Wrenn Academy is a split school site, with years 7, 8 and sixth form based on one campus and years 9, 10 and 11 based across the road on a second site. The school believes fiercely in creating an enriched environment in which to work and learn and understands the important role technology can play in achieving this. With solid anti-bullying procedures in place, Wrenn School is also determined to ensure a safe online environment for both students and staff. The requirement for an enriched and safe learning environment, plus the need to deliver effective network management across both sites, called for a well-considered approach to IT.
Wrenn Academy had previously employed a variety of software solutions including LANView, VLC Player and RM Tutor, but found these unreliable and slow to perform on the network. The IT team encountered further performance issues when they moved to Windows 7 from XP, prompting the need for a full IT review. In addition to this, students were prone to using the machines in the Learning Resource Centre or the computer labs to play online games as opposed to studying. These distractions were problematic for the school in its ambition to create a safe, yet enhanced, digital learning environment.
The IT team researched the market for alternative solutions and discovered AB Tutor and Netsupport, in addition to Impero Education Pro. A regular visitor to Edugeek, an online community for IT professionals, Wrenn’s Senior ICT Technician, Nick Mallard, identified a great deal of positive commentary from peers, with regards to Impero, and made the decision to trial the software. Impero Education Pro’s extensive compatibility and speed would work seamlessly on the school’s network, providing the IT staff with a suite of tools to efficiently manage the network across both sites. Since Impero Education Pro provides such wide functionality – from MSI deployment and Wake on LAN, to room layout and first-class remote control – it proved the best option for the school.
Impero Education Pro was installed on every single machine and, though the school encountered a few initial teething problems on their new network setup, this was resolved with help from the Impero support team and information on the Impero support forum. The software was up and running on the network surprisingly quickly and has since been installed on iPads used by staff. This has been particularly useful in allowing teaching staff to move freely around the classroom, assisting students as and when required. The school’s IT team delivered a training session to teaching staff; some were apprehensive about using a new product, but even those who aren’t the most ‘tech-savvy’ of people have found the software easy to use and have realised an improvement in student behaviour.
Wrenn School has discovered a number of core benefits since installing Impero, including:
improves productivity – staff have recognised a clear improvement in student behaviour since online distractions have now been removed. An enriched, focused learning environment has been created as a result of Impero’s monitoring and filtering capabilities, ensuring appropriate use of machines.
increased safety – as a school with a strong focus on anti-bullying, e-safety has been actively recognised and increased. Screen shots or recordings have been captured for use as evidence to prove or disprove incidents.
saves time – the IT staff are able to remotely access machines to immediately solve any technical issues that may arise. This is particularly useful since the IT team are based on one site, erasing the need to dash to the other site to solve technical problems there. Wake on LAN has facilitated efficient time management for the IT team, whilst features such as the room layout have served useful to new teaching staff when introduced to classes.
reduces cost – Impero’s print management and power management features have already helped the school to realise significant cost savings.
Q&A with Juliet Walsh, Learning Resource Manager
how has Impero helped you to manage students using PCs in your working environment?
The Learning Resource Centre is open extended hours – before school and after school, in addition to the lunch period and break times. Monitoring students’ use of the 10 machines during these times is most beneficial, since I am solely responsible for not only appropriate use, but also their safety. Break times are always extremely busy, so being able to send students a message or lock their computer is a massive time-saver, removing the need to physically walk over and deal with a situation in person. I can also take screenshots of inappropriate use as evidence to show other relevant members of staff.
have you noticed an improvement in learning?
My main aim has been to create a place for students to study and have access to a wide array of learning resources. Sometimes this means giving students access to sites, such as YouTube, for educational purposes; this can easily be unblocked by the IT team when required, meaning I can manage internet use as opposed to restricting these sites altogether. This has improved learning dramatically as students can access a variety of information, remain focused on their tasks and stay safe online.
how easy have you found the software to use?
I’m not particularly tech-savvy and have found Impero very easy to navigate. It allows me to keep control of the LRC, but there is still a lot of functionality that I’m yet to explore.
how would you sum up Impero?
It’s the first thing I open in the morning when I get to work!