King Edward VI School
Brian Daglish | Assistant Head Teacher ICT

Over the last five years King Edward VI School has used a number of suppliers for computer equipment. In the last two years we have proactively sought to establish strong business relationships with like minded business partners in an effort to future proof our resources. The decision on which partners to select for specific projects is fundamental to the success or failure of any project and in the case of our ‘Laptops for Students’ scheme we looked carefully at many suppliers over a twelve month period before committing to rockdirect.

Like many schools, we had used a substantial budget year on year to develop our infrastructure and resources (PC’s, laptops and peripherals). At present we have 260 networked PC’s and 100 laptops, with plans to increase these resources significantly over the next three years. The picture facing us was that future funding would have be used to maintain the status quo as resources became redundant. No matter how much equipment was sourced the demand from the students to access the resources continued to be in excess of what was available.

We had noticed that more and more students were bringing in laptops from home to use during study time and all that they required was a wireless network access solution. From this, the ‘Laptops for Students’ scheme was developed in consultation with students and parents a year ago. Our original focus had been on finding a partner who could provide laptops to our Sixth Form students (320 students) - ‘simple’ you may say, but not so simple as it proved to be. We required high specification laptops that would be compatible with our network (Server 2003 with ISA 2004), a price point that was acceptable for the parents and laptops that were attractive, yet robust and reliable to meet the needs of the students. Yes, we did approach all the major players in the market - but one by one they were eliminated for a variety of reasons. Although this proved to be frustrating and time consuming it was necessary to go through the process to ensure that the decision we made was the correct one.

Rockdirect had been one of our suppliers for the laptops we already used in the school and they listened to what we were trying to achieve and came up with solutions at each and every hurdle. Our needs can be summed up as follows:

  • Three laptops of the same high specification (built to our requirements) - but with different features to meet the working needs of the students. The TL, CTS and T200 models were selected.
  • Prices which met the price points that the parents had informed us were acceptable - resulting from questionnaires and newsletter feedback.
  • Three year manufacturer warranty and technical support (Mobile Support)
  • Full accidental damage cover for three years as an optional extra, with no excess clauses - in all but one case to date, the parents have bought this!
  • Larger battery option (7 hours with the CTS battery upgrade) so that students do not have to worry about charging the laptop during school hours.
  • Two payment options - via the school or via rockdirect (9 months interest free)
  • A ‘purchase window’ for parents to opt into the scheme so that they could check with their computer department at work on how good the offer was
  • Wireless capability to our specification
One cold November evening saw the launch of the scheme, with 220 parents and students in attendance. We were supported by rock direct who produced all the literature for the three laptops we were promoting. They manned a stand, demonstrated the laptops and dealt with many questions form interested parents and students.

The scheme has been a huge success and we will be promoting the scheme to the students in other year groups as part of a phased development project. At the same time we will create a stock of laptops for students who can not afford to buy a laptop so that they can use them on short term loan.

We would not hesitate to recommend rockdirect. They are the one supplier that was willing to listen and to come up with a tailored solution to meet our needs. They genuinely understand the way educational institutions work and more importantly they have an empathy with the students and teachers. We feel valued more as a partner rather than being just another customer, and are confident that this is just the start of something that is exciting in its infancy but which has enormous potential in the years ahead.



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