Driving EdTech Value through Strategic Partnerships
A bit of background
Within Durham County Council, the ICT School Services provision acts as a one-stop-shop for any ICT procurement through to maintenance requests in Durham and the surrounding areas. Providing technical and support services to public sector organisations, schools, businesses and voluntary organisations across the North East of England, the ICT School Services team provide high quality, professional support and installation packages.
With an ambition to provide the best possible service package to schools across the North East, Durham County Council has a team of engineers who are accredited to provide end-to-end services for many different technological devices used within the school environment.
The existing ICT estate across the county of Durham is mainly interactive whiteboards and projectors. Recognising that front of class display units have drastically developed over the last few years, Durham’s ICT School Services team investigated the various technologies available on the market.
Removing the need for maintenance and the cost of replacement bulbs, Durham County Council concluded that interactive flat panel displays (IFPDs) would be a more economical solution to traditional projector setups by reducing the total cost of ownership over time.
In an effort to evaluate transitioning towards IFPDs, ICT Schools Services began a review of the market to identify preferred brands and products that would benefit schools across the region.
As part of this exercise, Durham County Council established a procurement framework with a view to managing installation, service and maintenance through its own in-house team. Consequently, the support available from the IFPD manufacturers became a primary consideration when evaluating which brands it would recommend to schools.
The Promethean ActivPanel emerged as one of the preferred brands for Durham County Council on the basis of quality and suitability for the educational environment. Supplied as standard with a five-year warranty, the ActivPanel as a solution is also underpinned by extensive manufacturer support from Promethean.
Understanding the requirements of Durham County Council, Promethean worked with the ICT team to find solutions that were beneficial to both the team and the schools. ICT Schools Services completed Promethean’s installation certification training to ensure the in-house team of engineers were qualified to install Promethean ActivPanels and maintain them over their lifetime. Durham County Council and Promethean essentially initiated a partnership that would upskill the internal ICT team to deliver quality installations, have the capabilities to rapidly respond to any maintenance issues and ensure teacher confidence to use the technology to its full potential.
Mark Kirkup, Schools ICT Manager at Durham County Council, commented: “At a local authority level it is important for us to become a one-stop-shop for all the schools that we support. We wanted to be able to offer an end-to-end service and Promethean’s training has helped us to do this. By upskilling our in-house engineers as certified installers we can complete all aspects of the installation process from electrics, networking and software credentials. With an understanding of the product and the knowledge of the schools in our region we can also respond quickly if any issues were to arise.”
When using new technology, it is essential that school leaders, teachers and students are equipped with the skills to use it to its best advantage. Promethean shared its expertise with Durham County Council ensuring all members of the ICT team were able to deliver orientation training sessions, enabling them to share essential product knowledge with the teachers.
“Being able to provide an initial introduction to the panel and offer an orientation session around its features has made a big difference. The teachers are able to use the technology effectively which ultimately ensures maximum value is realised from the investment.”
Promethean and Durham County Council have a shared goal to ensure that schools have access to the latest technology in the most efficient and effective way. This partnership has enabled Durham to support schools from procurement, to quality installation and to ongoing maintenance. Offering a thorough training programme to the ICT team along with online and telephone support in the rare occurrence of an issue with the technology, Durham County Council has the skills and knowledge to conduct service and maintenance works, while minimising disruption to the school day.
Jim Wallis, Promethean’s Head of Market Development and Strategic Opportunities, commented: “The partnership with Durham County Council is an excellent example of how we can develop our support offering to best align with local authority needs. Not only have we been able to bridge the skills gap amongst the ICT team in relation to specialist EdTech solutions, but we’ve also provided direct manufacturer support by delivering orientation training to the schools. We are always available to guide, advise and share best practice and it is incredibly rewarding to see the partnership delivering value where it is needed – in the classroom.”
Mark concluded: “Promethean has gone the extra mile for Durham County Council which has helped us enhance our service offering for the schools ten-fold. They understand what we need as a local authority and developed innovative solutions to ensure we could offer the very best to our schools. Outside of the installer training, Promethean regularly participate in a product familiarisation updates which means we can keep pace with advances as ActivPanel updates become available.”
Durham County Council’s ICT School Services team recently implemented 12 ActivPanels into Etherley Lane Primary School. Headteacher, Kelly-Ann Lee, commented on the installation process and support she received: “From initial quote to the complete installation, the service we have received has been excellent. The engineers have been extremely professional, considerate and helpful at all times when they have been on site. The installation process was seamless – engineers were so good, we hardly noticed any disruption at all. Please pass on our sincere thanks to all involved for the excellent quality of service we have receive.”
School Business Manager, Caroline Gill, commented on the support provided by the ICT School Services team: “We cannot praise the technicians enough. From receiving the price to the completion of all 12 classrooms – they were amazing. Everything ran smoothly, the workmen were extremely helpful and courteous, and all staff commented on this. Many thanks for your help.”
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