Riverside Special School Gets A Makeover
Riverside School Gets A Makeover
Riverside is a small school in East Yorkshire, with less than 130 children and young people with special educational needs. It has recently undergone an extensive refurbishment program. The result has included a bespoke IT room, kitted out with an array of laptops, mini-PCs and furnishings which is making a huge impact on students and teachers alike.
Before Riverside had its tech makeover it had always relied heavily on laptops and iPads. “We were using two main class sets of laptops, which were transported around school using lapsafes (laptop security trolleys) - which was far from ideal,” says IT manager Dan Skinner. “We also had a class set of iPads in an iPad trolley. Like the laptops, these were all bookable resources and moved around school from classroom to classroom as we didn’t have a spare room for a specific ICT classroom.”
IT teacher Nicola Lazenby says that the school’s old equipment was becoming noticeably more sluggish. “Batteries depleted quickly and we frequently had connection issues. A lot of time was wasted powering up, logging on and waiting for them to connect. This in turn led to raised frustration levels from the children, resulting in disengagement and distraction.”
Where does Ebuyer fit in?
So what options were discussed with Ebuyer at the very beginning of the project? Dan Skinner continues: “We discussed laptops and iPads as these are the main devices used in school, but I also mentioned that the school was considering a dedicated ICT suite down the line. Ebuyer felt confident they could help us out with this, and arranged a visit to the school to discuss various PC options and bespoke furniture layouts. With Ebuyer’s help, along with the final stages of building work taking place, we were able to design and set up a brand-new ICT suite.”
A new ICT room
The new ICT room was opened in early 2021, right in the middle of the second national coronavirus lockdown, but Business Manager Andrew Fuller says that everyone has been delighted with the new provision: “Obviously the school hasn’t been operating as it would normally, due to COVID-19, but having a purpose built IT suite allows us to provide better focused IT lessons across the school. Unfortunately, parents haven’t been able to come into the school since the installation, but I’m sure they’ll be very impressed!”
With many children in school, the impact of the new system has greatly improved IT teacher Nicola’s classroom experience. “The machines power-up effortlessly, there’s no waiting for updates or for the log in screen. The children now have everything they need in front of them with space to work whilst the explanations of activities take place. The children have adapted very well to the new equipment – they find the computers easy to use and the system is simple to navigate. They are now more focussed in all subjects. The children were overjoyed at the change, with comfy chairs, spacious desks and their own PC!”
Not only has the project vastly improved the children’s educational experience, it has also helped to shape the schools future plans. Business Manager Andrew continues: “The project has allowed us to review the use of the laptop trollies which previously we moved around the school. Many of these laptops were becoming out of date and unreliable, this project has allowed us to reassess the way we deliver IT within the school, and we will make the new IT suite a bookable resource to allow maximum use right across the curriculum.”
Q&A with Riverside School IT Manager Dan Skinner.
Q: Can you describe your experience moving from Intel to RyzenTM?
A: Seamless. So far, my experience of Ryzen over Intel has been really good. I have not experienced any issues. We have been able to build both the mini-PCs and laptops to work exactly the same as our other devices in school, running the same software and programs. It does everything we need of it - and quickly.
Q: Why do you think that the Ryzen platform is best suited for your school?
A: From a school’s perspective one of the main reasons is the price. With the AMD and Ryzen platform you get much of the same CPU statistics as you get with Intel. But you get these for less of the price. Like all schools we unfortunately have to run on a tight budget, and we are always having to look for the best price possible when upgrading our ICT devices. By choosing Ryzen we can save money on every device, this all adds up, especially when buying in bulk.
Q: Have you noticed any other positive changes since you’ve moved from Intel to Ryzen for both the Mini PCs, and also the Lenovo Laptops?
A: The big positive change I have noticed is the speed of the devices, both the mini-PCs and Lenovo laptops. I feel the speed of the computers is very important, especially for working in this environment. With the nature of the pupils we have at Riverside, they can become very easily agitated and distracted when they are having to wait for something to happen. I have seen this many times, partially with our older laptops in the lapsafes. Sometimes taking minutes at a time to switch on, login or to load up software. The new mini-PCs and laptops running Ryzen are so much faster. Even when compared to our previous devices when they were new. They power-on very quickly and can login within seconds which hugely reduces the pupils waiting time and helps keep them engaged in the lesson.
Q: What do you feel are the benefits of choosing a mini-PC attached to the monitors over a Tower or SFF (Small Form Factor) desktop?
A: One big benefit is the compactness and tidiness the mini-PC’s provide. There are no towers taking up valuable desk space, or being placed on the floor under the tables, potentially causing a hazard. For the nature of our school this is a huge benefit. It also makes the classroom look a lot tidier and presentable.
From a technical point of view it’s much more practical. It is easier to gain access to the computer when everything is in one place - and should I need to remove the computer for a particular reason it’s simply a case of unplugging a few cables and away, reducing my time in the classroom, especially if there is a lesson taking place.