The Laurel Academy, located in South Yorkshire, converted to academy status in January 2015 and became part of Wakefield City Academies Trust. The school prides itself on state-of-the-art facilitates and a well-equipped building. Since receiving academy status, the school has worked towards the development of an e-safety policy in line with a whole-school behaviour policy. With Ofsted placing greater emphasis on e-safety in schools, the need for reliable and feature-rich e-safety software became a key focus for the academy.
Previously, The Laurel Academy implemented Securus to facilitate e-safety, however this proved awkward to use and generated masses of data. IT staff found this data both difficult and time-consuming to manage, and the software failed to provide a simple way to identify potential e-safety risks, deeming it unreliable. As the network continued to grow, the academy also realised a need for speedy remote control and network management functionality to deliver effective technical support for users, plus efficient management of the school’s network. With no classroom management functionality in place, teaching staff were also desperate to gain better control of the digital learning environment and focus students’ learning.
When The Laurel Academy’s contract with Securus expired, the school’s Network Manager was keen to implement an alternative solution to address e-safety, in addition to remote control and network management software. A well-timed phone call from Impero introduced Education Pro, a consolidated suite of software features, to the school’s IT team. Impero Education Pro would not only provide the academy with a comprehensive and automated e-safety function, it would also fulfil the school’s classroom and network management requirements. Impressed by the broad functionality of the software, which would help to centralise the school’s network and combine several products in one, The Laurel Academy’s Network Manager decided to adopt the consolidated approach offered by investing in Impero.
Impero Education Pro’s simple implementation process was performed by the academy’s trainee IT Technician, and the software was installed across every device on the network with ease. The IT team encountered zero issues during the installation and Impero’s technical support team have been on hand ever since to answer questions and queries. Ongoing technical support has ensured that upgrades are executed seamlessly and the academy’s IT team are yet to experience any downtime.
Since implementing Impero Education Pro, The Laurel Academy has realised a variety of benefits, such as:
saves time – remote control functionality allows the IT team to respond to technical support queries, on a daily basis, without delay. The MiMic script and remote task manager functionalities automate several processes, saving masses of time, while power management ensures that machines can be scheduled to power off during non-school hours, saving time and energy.
focuses learning – live thumbnail view helps teaching staff to identify when a student is straying off task, while internet and application restrictions, along with lock screen, improves productivity.
keeps students safe – real-time violation alerts, keyword detection and a comprehensive log of all activity (including screenshot and video recording evidence) enables potential risk to be identified, so that the appropriate action and support can be provided. Customisable website and application restrictions also ensure that unsuitable content is kept at bay.
Q&A with Gareth Harle, Network Manager
how does Impero compare to other products on the market?
Impero’s a unique company that seems to genuinely understand education and care about the user experience. Originally we invested in Education Pro to support our e-safety requirements and for remote control and admin tasks, so we didn’t expect it to provide all of the engaged learning features for teaching staff, such as the exam module. Teaching staff use the classroom management functionality, including live thumbnail view, the exam module and lock screen, to control learning in the digital classroom. What’s really useful is that this functionality is bundled into a centralised solution that can be easily managed by the IT team, so we don’t have to juggle several disparate solutions. The software’s extremely reliable and definitely well-suited to education.
how has Impero been beneficial to you in your role and in facilitating e-safety?
One of the core features that we really love about Education Pro’s e-safety functionality is that violations are flagged up in real-time, with screenshot and video recordings helping to prove misuse or confirm potential risk. Since we have the software open all of the time, we often catch incidents as they occur, which allows us to either alert the teacher or escalate it through our behaviour management system. It’s great that Education Pro brings that information to us, as opposed to trawling through data. In terms of network management, we use the remote control feature daily to respond and resolve technical issues raised by staff and students, which undeniably saves us time – although we try not to be too lazy! The MiMic script is really useful if we need to automate a sequence of keystrokes on multiple machines simultaneously, and the remote task manager allows us to manage processes running on remote machines. We also use power management in certain areas to ensure machines aren’t left powered on unnecessarily.
what are the next steps?
As we continue to develop our e-safety policy, we’re looking to implement the Confide system included in Education Pro, so students can report any concerns or issues that they have through the software. We previously developed our own app to achieve a similar outcome, however we like that Confide is already built-in to the software, which brings everything together in one place. We’re also looking to take advantage of the print management feature to cut down on unnecessary waste and save costs, so that’s an avenue we’ll be looking to explore in the future.
how would you sum up Impero?
One of the few products on the market that really is designed specifically for education.