Case Study – Mitel Moves The Blandford School up a Grade

The Blandford School in Dorset has implemented a Mitel based IP telephony network to improve communication between staff, parents and students and monitor levels of absenteeism.

To support its merger with Milldown Middle School. The Blandford School is investing in a multi-million pound development including the most advanced converged communications technology from Mitel. The system, implemented by Mitel Platinum Solution Provider ATC Sterry, went live at the start of the 2005 school year and continues to evolve. It includes an advanced voicemail system, call handling applications, IP phones in every office and a robust, reliable network infrastructure.

As a specialist technology college, The Blandford School is dedicated to using advanced technology to support its 150 teaching staff and 1,300 students and realised that its handful of digital and analogue telephones were neither reliable nor scalable.

“In the past, our reception struggled to handle the sheer volume of calls in the mornings from students and parents,” explained Nathan Osbaldstone, ICT Manager, The Blandford School. “The labour intensive task of managing calls and getting messages to the relevant staff has been dramatically improved using Mitel voicemail and call management applications. For the first time every teacher has a voicemail system that can be tailored with their own message, which has gone down really well with parents. We also now have the vital tools required for monitoring student absenteeism and tracking truancy trends.”

The Mitel 3300 IP Communications Platform (ICP) includes embedded voicemail functionality, which saves resources by enabling parents to leave messages about absenteeism that are entered into the school’s e-register. A video conferencing solution has also been implemented for students to participate in distance learning courses, a facility to which they previously didn’t have access. The Mitel 5550 IP Console, a desktop administration application, is being used by reception staff to minimise call waiting times and increase call handling volumes through call status, prompts and message taking functions.

“The Blandford School went through a rigorous assessment of the market, looking at all the key players in IP telephony,” commented Matt Cross, consultant, ATC Sterry. “Ultimately the decision to go with Mitel came down to the robust, feature-rich and scalable technology; a reduction of upfront and ongoing costs; and its seamless integration with HP and Canon network infrastructure.”

The implementation involved installing an HP Procurve data network at both The Blandford School and Milldown School sites, with a fibre channel connecting the two. A Canon Canobeam DT100 laser link has also been set up to beam traffic from one building to another as a backup for the fibre channel.

“The Blandford School has moved its communications infrastructure into the 21st century by implementing an IP communications infrastructure, and it is an example of how strategic investment in technology is helping to build schools for the future,” said Graham Bevington, Managing Director, Mitel. “The school’s future plans include replacing school buildings with a single site, the cost of which will be dramatically reduced by avoiding phone cabling costs and simplifying set up and configuration.”

As the school expands, new phones and computers can be added to the network simply and quickly. With its old analogue system, configuration changes were time consuming and manual thus the IT team has freed up its time to focus on more critical tasks.

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