Manchester High School Goes High Tech
8th November 2011
Parrs Wood High School in Didsbury is bringing a new interactive experience to pupils this term thanks to an extensive refurbishment project that has introduced the latest learning technology into almost 100 classrooms.
Under Manchester’s £500m Building Schools for the Future (BSF) programme, the school teamed up with Bowker IT and Bowker Electrical, specialists in the education sector, to introduce interactive whiteboards in almost 100 classrooms across the school, replacing old projectors and bringing cutting edge education technology into 90% of the classrooms on site.
Bowker Electrical also laid data cabling across the site which will help speed up broadband connections to classrooms and enhance the wifi network across the site. Before beginning work, Bowker re-tested all the existing cabling on site, leaving in what was still fit for purpose and only replacing the cabling that needed it, to ensure that the project was delivered on time and on budget with minimum disruption to the school.
With its primary use as a high school, the new IT infrastructure will also benefit pupils who use the site for out-of-school clubs and the wider Didsbury community, which hosts a variety of activities requiring ICT on the site seven days a week.
Claire Wright, deputy head teacher at Parrs Wood High School, says: “We’re committed to making the learning environment as engaging as possible for young people who are familiar with the latest developments. In fact, I’d go as far as to say there’s an expectation that we will provide the best facilities to help them learn nowadays, so we used funding available through the Building Schools for the Future programme to upgrade our technology infrastructure.
“We came back for the winter term to discover the new interactive whiteboards, and they’ve created a real buzz around the school. Students are naturals with technology and it’s easy to see how they help each child to play an active role in their lessons. Even pupils who were quiet in class before want to come up to the front to use the boards to see exactly what they can do, making lessons even more engaging.”
Parrs Wood High School was one of the schools to benefit from funding generated through the national Building Schools for the Future programme. Introduced by the Labour Government, BSF invested billions of pounds in upgrading secondary schools across the UK. The Coalition Government cancelled many areas’ BSF funding in 2010, but thankfully for Parrs Wood High School, Manchester City Council started its Building Schools for the Future applications early and managed to secure funding for all Manchester City Council schools. All of Manchester’s secondary schools have benefitted from some form of improvement under Manchester’s BSF scheme, whether this was new build or refurbishment work, or ICT enhancement.
Miss Wright explains that she is keen to keep Parrs Wood High School at the forefront of interactive digital learning. “It’s great to know that, although the national BSF scheme has been halted, Manchester’s BSF programme is still going strong, and has committed to a major investment for PCs and a managed service to be carried out at our school in the future,” she says. “Technology moves so quickly, and we want our pupils to have access to the very best learning environments possible.”
Stuart Errington, director at Bowker IT which carried out the work, concludes: “We’ve worked on several Building Schools for the Future projects and in each case the funding has been money well spent. For us, it’s relatively straight forward to undertake the work, and once complete it makes such a huge improvement to the school environment. Schools need to move quickly to keep up with the latest developments in technology and it’s clear to see the benefits that the pupils will get from both the enhanced data services and the whiteboards. It’s a real shame that the national Building Schools for the Future programme has been halted, as the work enabled by Manchester’s BSF scheme is an excellent example of what can be achieved when the money is spent properly.”
Through the Manchester BSF Programme, Bowker IT and Bowker Electrical worked alongside Bramall Construction and BCM Consulting to deliver the changes to the site during the summer.
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About Bowker IT and Bowker Electrical:
Based in the North West, family-owned Bowker Electrical works across all sectors to provide electrical engineering services and IT support. These include design and build, fire and security installation, data and optical fibre installation, control panels and wiring, testing and inspection and preventative and reactive maintenance. To businesses, the Bowker IT team provides regular IT helpdesk support and as well as providing solutions for businesses looking to upgrade or move premises. For more information visit www.bowkerit.co.uk and www.bowkerltd.co.uk.
About BCM Consulting:
Manchester’s BCM Consulting is a sustainable building services design consultancy based at Manchester’s Central Street. It has been providing low-carbon design solutions to clients in the public and private sectors since 2002, fully integrating these into the overall design process to optimise costs and increase efficiency and effectiveness.
About Bramall Construction:
Bramall Construction is part of the Keepmoat Group, the award winning community regeneration company. It provides a holistic partnership approach to community regeneration, pioneering eco-friendly 21st Century schools and homes, and offering integrated, comprehensive solutions to communities’ construction needs.
Building Schools for the Future (BSF) was the biggest single Government investment in improving school buildings for over 50 years.
Manchester has a combined BSF and Academies programme with a £509m capital investment to rebuild or refurbish 33 schools, seven of which will be specialist academies.
The BSF programme is about transforming the way education is delivered for the benefit of every student living in the city. Manchester’s building programme began in 2006 and is due to be completed by 2013