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Oaklands School

Oaklands School, a special needs school in West London, accommodates over 180 severe learning needs children with autism, physical disabilities or serious learning difficulties. The school serves a wide area, including Chiswick, Richmond and Twickenham whilst also working closely with Hounslow’s mainstream schools.

In 2016 the school received approval for a new facility to be built, doubling the capacity of students supported through Oaklands. In addition, Oaklands has recently established the Greater Oaks College, linking with the Government’s agenda of the creation of 12 new Special Educational Needs (SEN) schools allowing 19-25-year olds to continue their education. Both bespoke, improved facilities opened in September 2018, allowing the Oaklands offering to flourish.

A further development involves turning one of their existing buildings into a primary school, New Oaks Primary, which is set to open in September 2019 and will provide the unique opportunity for pupils as young as three to receive the special education they require.

The challenge

Until the approval of the new facility, Oaklands was a small school with limited budget and resources, with the IT support function comprising a part-time technician and an on-site IT literate teaching assistant. With no greater IT infrastructure in place and no support contracts, the IT capability was simply not up to scratch and was made up of a jigsaw of elements, not robust enough to grow with the school.

With the new school doubling in size the IT had to, not only cater for an increased number of staff and students but be brought into the 21st century to support the educational development of all its students. With an out of date and aged infrastructure, Oaklands was looking for IT to support and enhance its quality teaching and learning, whilst providing support for children with learning difficulties through sensory technology.

The main challenge was to build an IT infrastructure that would last for up to ten years, implementing the latest technology which included interactive whiteboards, IP telephony, laptops and desktops.

The solution

Undergoing a rigorous tendering process, Oaklands was looking for a one-stop-shop to overcome the technical IT challenges. Circle quickly took responsibility for all aspects, from access control ID cards to computers and mobile devices, through to WiFi network and software, amongst other aspects.

Circle worked with Oaklands to get the very best from the partnership, exploring options and technology. Being flexible led to Oaklands receiving a bespoke solution that wasn’t based on just products and services.

Having experience of working with a large number of educational institutions, Circle had the advantage of completing campus-wide IT infrastructure renovations, which was a huge benefit to Oaklands – guaranteeing a high-quality IT infrastructure that answered their brief entirely.

The benefits

Circle worked with Oaklands to ensure that the IT was up and running ahead of the school opening its doors in the new school year.

Oaklands has received an IT overhaul and now boasts high quality, reliable technology allowing staff to focus on their number one priority - teaching. Taking away the issue of disruption and IT downtime has given Oaklands staff confidence, allowing them to provide the most optimal care for pupils.

Working with Circle allowed Oaklands to reap the benefits of choices. Not simply about providing a one size fits all solution, Circle’s team spent time working with teachers to really understand what was required before suggesting technology that would fit their requirements.

Oaklands now has a technology platform that is safe, secure and will grow with them in the future, allowing students to get the very best from their education.

We had a good look at potential suppliers and chose Circle because they offered us enterprise level technical capability as well as the flexibility to meet our specific needs. We are very happy to recommend Circle to other schools and colleges

Nick Singh Kandola, Business Consultant at Oaklands School and Great Oaks College

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