Bradfield College has completed the first phase of its deployment of Meru Education-grade 802.11ac wireless technology throughout the school’s site in Berkshire. The network will support up to 3,000 staff and student devices.
Bradfield College is part of the Rugby Group, which includes Harrow School, Wellington College and Charterhouse School. A co-educational school for 13- to 18-year-olds, Bradfield selected Meru’s gigabit wifi when its existing network failed to deliver seamless coverage across the school’s mix of traditional and modern facilities and was unable to deliver sufficient capacity to meet the demands of more than 1,000 pupils, staff and contractors.
“Our previous wifi network caused some frustration, with coverage dropping in and out depending on where you were in the school, and was particularly problematic in some of our older buildings, which date back over 150 years and have solid walls,” explains Trevor Benstock, director of IT services at Bradfield College. “The number of devices connecting to the network was also causing us headaches, with staff and pupils using up to three devices each, often simultaneously. That’s potentially thousands of devices all logging on at once.
“In a fast moving world, just as education cannot stand still, neither can the technology that supports it. Our staff expect it, parents expect it and the students certainly expect fast, reliable wifi to be part of their life.”
The school’s IT team worked alongside Meru to deploy more than 200 Meru AP832 802.11ac access points, with up to 10 in some buildings, and two main controllers. Phase one of the project has seen Meru wifi installed in all of the primary buildings used for teaching and some of the boarding houses.
The network is also being used to support Firefly, the school’s virtual learning environment (VLE), which enables students and teachers to organise their homework and create and access resources from anywhere. Phase two will include external wireless access covering the playing fields and the school’s recently renovated Greek theatre, which plays host to performances during the summer term. In the future, the IT department will look at integrating wifi with other systems such as CCTV.
“While Bradfield College is a traditional school with a long history and extremely impressive academic and sporting record, its ethos and teaching embraces the latest technology, from mobile learning to online portals. Unfortunately, its wifi was not fit for purpose and causing frustrations for staff, pupils and visitors,” adds Mark Howell, country manager for UK and Ireland at Meru. “There are still many educational establishments out there suffering unnecessary wifi problems due to outdated technology, so we’re delighted to be adding another school to our list of 4,000 in the UK and Ireland.”