NI firm secures stg£1.5m schools ‘cloud learning’contract

23 Aug 2011

Newtownabbey-based Northgate Managed Services has won a stg£1.5m contract to provide a state-of-the-art ICT managed service for the Northampton based, Malcolm Arnold Academy sponsored by the David Ross Education Trust.

The contract will see Northgate design and manage the introduction of a new robust and flexible ICT solution, one that mirrors the Academy’s belief that ICT can help to deliver and support innovative and learning approaches.

Through engagement with teaching and support staff, Northgate will help the Academy prepare for change as it moves into its new ICT rich environment.

After analysing existing needs, an extensive training and developmental programme has been designed to build confidence and encourage wider use of ICT in the classroom. A ‘proof of concept’ room has been set up so teachers can familiarise themselves with new hardware and software.

Through a combination of technologies such as thin client, virtual desktop, wireless and Northgate’s ‘cloud-based’ learning environment, MY-SCHOOL, teachers and students will be able to access the Academy’s educational resources from any device connected to the internet and at any time.  Northgate will ensure the entire program is successfully supplied, installed and delivered through effective project management of the ICT solution.

Advancing student learning

“It was important for us as an academy to have a robust IT solution that would integrate seamlessly with the existing school environment,” Philip Cantwell, principal, Malcolm Arnold Academy said.

“Not only did we want a solution that was technically viable, we wanted one that was highly effective in the classroom as a teaching and learning tool.

“This is an exciting time for the Academy. Teachers are already thinking about ways in which to use the new technologies to help advance student learning, and the ability to use ‘MY-SCHOOL’ to upload and share resources is proving very popular.

“Add to this the new campus wide Wi-Fi network, and I believe that we have one of the best educational ICT solutions in the country.

“We will continue to work closely with Northgate to develop an on-going training programme that will ensure both teaching and non-teaching staff can develop their skills to benefit fully from the new ICT provision. We look forward to working in partnership with Northgate on an ongoing basis.”

Andy Ross, Chief Executive, Northgate Managed Services said the company has focused on designing a solution and change programme that meets the challenges of the school.

“The academy is keen to ensure that the new ICT solution is not only robust, but is one that the teachers can take full advantage of to benefit their students. Northgate’s extensive experience with schools right across the country will help them to do this.”

Northgate already supplies ICT services and solutions to over 1,250 schools, colleges and academies across the UK including every school in Northern Ireland through Classroom 2000 (C2k).

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years