IT standards for schools
Our consultants offer extensive support and advice on the broad range of products hardware and software available, helping schools decide which services best suit their needs, and supporting them in implementing these decisions. For more advice or a free of charge initial visit please contact the Consultancy Team via the IT Help Desk.
We strongly recommend that schools purchase an integrated network, more commonly known as a 'whole school network'. This means that all the school is covered by a single cabling structure, including administration and curriculum areas.
The main advantage of integrated networks is the ability to share data from your management information system throughout the school. Pupil information can be retrieved by appropriate members of staff. Assessment and attendance data can be entered by teaching staff where most convenient, without having to work on a specific administration system workstation. This increases the staff access to the MIS, and enables it to help staff access relevant information as and when it is required.
This removes some of the pressure on the administration staff and their workstations, and makes fuller use of all workstations throughout the school. This also works in reverse as MIS staff can be given access to data on the curriculum system. Having a single, integrated network provides a more cost effective solution as it is easily supportable and the cost of repair or replacement is less, keeping overall costs down.
A whole school network may require a dedicated SIMS server, although the majority of primary schools have chosen Centrally Hosted SIMS available from Hampshire IT. This will be confirmed during the Consultancy stage.
Hampshire IT no longer supports EdICTNet versions 1-3, and EdICTNet Plus is now in extended support. Which means the system will be patched and fully supported, but no further development will be undertaken.
The EdICTNet support pages, including known issues, are available on Hantsnet.
EdICTNet’s replacement is the Hosted School Service.
SIMS networks in secondary schools
Regardless of their network infrastructure all secondary schools are strongly recommended to host SIMS on a separate and dedicated database server for performance, stability and support reasons.
WAN (HPSN/SWAN and HPSN2)
High-quality communications links to the Internet are a necessity for all schools, both in the classroom and in the office. Most Hampshire schools are connected to the internet via HPSN/SWAN (Hampshire Public Services Network / Schools' Wide Area Network). HPSN/SWAN is a private network which means that sensitive information (about pupils or staff for example) can be transferred across it with confidence. Schools who choose not have HPSN usually have separate ISDN (Integrated Services Digital Network) lines for their administration and curriculum systems. These will be considerably slower than the HPSN/SWAN lines and also less secure.
Synetrix are Hampshire County Council’s partner in delivering the HPSN/SWAN network. They were selected after a comprehensive European tender process. Synetrix will supply the Wide Area Network and connectivity back to the Internet. IT Services (HCC) supply the Internet Service Applications, including firewall protection, filtering, and email.
The HPSN/SWAN service delivers schools with faster access to the Internet and allows them to take full advantage of graphics, multi-media applications, the digital curriculum and video-conferencing.
Important note: Hampshire IT may be able to offer limited services and solutions to schools who do not adopt HPSN/SWAN. We reserve the right to charge additional fees for services to these schools in order to cover the additional costs we incur.
About HPSN2 - the replacement for HPSN/SWAN.
Wireless technology has improved significantly over the last few years. However, it is still true to say that the most appropriate networking solution for any school will be “hard wiring”, i.e. cabling as opposed to a full wireless solution. This is due to the fact that this solution is more reliable and secure, assuming the appropriate level of security is applied to the domain.
In certain circumstances wireless for part of the school network may be appropriate. Hampshire IT supports the use of wireless in these situations. Schools should carefully consider their requirements in detail to establish whether wireless in these situations is the most appropriate and cost effective solution for them.
Schools wishing to investigate the use of a wireless solution and wishing to seek help from Hampshire IT in doing this should contact the IT Help Desk for more information. Schools purchasing wireless networks from a third party supplier should seek assurances from their provider that the standards set out in this document will be in place.
IMPORTANT NOTE: Hampshire IT supports using SIMS in a wireless environment, providing it meets the standards outlined in the above document. The SQL database that supports SIMS will not become corrupt if connectivity to the network is lost, however any changes to documents or records open in SIMS may be lost.
Peer to Peer Networks
Please note that Hampshire IT does not support or recommend peer to peer networks. It is important to note that SIMS is not supported on peer to peer networks.
Trust Relationship is a networking term for joining two separate networks to act as one whole network.
In specific circumstances, and under the guidance of Hampshire IT, Trust Relationships are supported as a way for schools to expand their existing network infrastructure.
It is likely that Hampshire IT will recommend the implementation of a Terminal Services solution over a Trust Relationship, to address the same underlying requirements that a school has for members of staff to access resources (such as SIMS) from a separate network. This is because this is a more robust and supportable solution.
n.b: The implementation of a true whole school network is always more appropriate so any other solution should be seen as a short term workaround to achieve a specific aim.
A full range of powerful and flexible network and telephone services are available.
It is important to ensure that printers purchased for administration purposes are compatible with SAP and SIMS.
It is advisable to have at least one network printer in both the administration and curriculum parts of the building, although more may be required. When purchasing new printers, schools should consider the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) as initial hardware prices may be low but this may be outweighed by the cost of consumables.
Local printing maybe also be required, although we do not recommend the use of local printers as they can become expensive to run and support.
Hampshire IT does not recommend the use of all in one fax/copier/printers due to the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO), including the replacement cost of consumables.
Hampshire IT does not support scanners.
Hampshire IT does not currently provide any standard recommendations for these devices. This is actively under review and we are working with Capita to identify any devices that may be compatible with SIMS. Security of data on these devices is a major consideration and our recommendations, when published, will take this into account.
Hampshire IT does not provide support/installation of Interactive Whiteboards. Schools should contact either HIAS or County Supplies for more information.
Hampshire IT does not provide any specific recommendations on make and model of Digital Camera equipment within the school. Hampshire IT does not recommend the use of proprietary software; however, it is important to state that any proprietary software supplied with the Cameras should be locally installed on a workstation and not on the server.
Photograph files (JPEG, GIF etc) can take up a lot of hard drive space so we recommend regular housekeeping and review of capacity. Additionally, important images should be saved in a location where they are backed up (for example, a personal or shared network location). The Data Protection Act must also be adhered to.
In the fast changing world of ICT, it is very important that Headteachers and Governors appreciate their responsibilities towards the security of the data, hardware, software, pupils, staff and network(s) at their School.
We do not recommend or support specific CCTV software. Schools wishing to purchase a network solution who are already using this software should make this known to the Hampshire IT Consultant at initial stages of enquiry. Where a school has CCTV facilities the school should comply to the national code of practice.
Equipment replacement strategy
As a general principle, schools should plan to replace equipment every three to five years depending on their hardware cover within the manufacturer’s warranty period. Experience has shown that the total cost of ownership increases dramatically after this period. Improvements are constantly being made to hardware in order to keep pace with the ever increasing performance demands of the software that we run. Newer machines are also more energy efficient and therefore better for the environment, reducing both costs and your carbon footprint.
Health and safety
Hampshire IT is unable to provide any health and safety guidance and advice for schools. Our colleagues in the Health and Safety team keep their online guidance fully up to date including advice regarding display station equipment and electrical safety.
Important information for schools is often published via the Health and Safety news and advice which schools may also find useful.
For urgent issues, call the IT Help Desk on 01962 847007. For anything else, see our contact page.