Three developments impacting schools in the South West of England

  • BT announced that they would no longer be providing new ISDN lines after 2020 and will cease all current ISDN circuits soon after.
  • Bristol, Bath, Swindon and Weston-Super-Mare are now all gigabit cities.
  • Limited Offer: Schools in the south west can now access a 2-hour Education Disaster Recovery Check session.

Most secondary schools and larger primary schools have ISDN telephone lines which makes no use of VoIP. It’s expensive to rent (often nearly £15 per line per month), compared to SIP which can be as little as £0). ISDN lines are expensive and slow to upgrade, calls normally cost more, they’re inflexible and there’s little redundancy if things go wrong. You have a couple of options: switch to SIP or Hosted Cloud.

1: Benefits and savings of switching from BT ISDN.

The education sector must consider many factors when upgrading any part of their communications engine, specifically – resilience, safety and efficiency. The phone system supports the day-to-day operations of a school so it is crucial it has certain features and functionality.

The challenge

Teacher and student safety is paramount and therefore a communication system that enables the staff and students to be safe at school is imperative. Schools need a reliable, resilient phone system, and if there are circumstances that mean the phone system cannot work in the way it is designed to, an effective disaster recovery plan is needed.

It is vital that messages can be left so that issues can be dealt with quickly and efficiently. Instant messaging can also be beneficial especially where an emergency situation arises or where a quick response is required between teachers and staff. Having the ability to prioritise calls is a must. The nature of a school environment means that particular calls will place a greater priority than others, and the system must be able to cope with this demand. The main challenge for schools is selecting a telephony system that has the high-quality features required within a set budget.

Checklist for the teacher:

  • Safety – Page all phones in case of emergencies or other announcements.
  • Every extension includes a personal mailbox and voicemails can be accessed from a phone, email or mobile application, meaning teachers no longer rely on secretaries to pass messages on
  • If the teachers all have laptops, instant messaging is available through the soft client to quickly speak to colleagues
  • Integration with Outlook to enable teachers to dial parents or other contacts directly from their PC
  • Call recording for important calls

Checklist for School Management team:

  • Never miss a call – Soft phone, twinning, sequential ring
  • Auto attendant to ensure the right person is being spoken to and custom greetings to give a warmer, more professional image
  • Limit disruptions during the day by blacklisting unwanted callers
  • Use the outbound conference facility to hold vital all staff calls
  • Schools may not have a dedicated IT team, a hosted phone system managed by SolutionIP uncomplicates IT management
  • Queueing – can provide an intelligent, friendly way of dealing with calls even during the busiest periods

SIP Trunks are quick and easy to install. All you need is a compatible telephone system, which you could already have, or a small plug-in VoIP gateway converter.

2: Upgrading to gigabit internet speed to deliver access to e-learning… and it’s providing savings for many schools

‘We can rely on the Gigabit network to support the expected developments in web-based learning in the future. It’s resilient enough to cope with advancements in e-learning strategies, which will enable us to remain ahead of the game academically’ Kris Shah, Network Manager, University of Bath

Today’s schools are nurturing a new ‘connected generation’. The internet is their library, content is a commodity, shared drives are their ring binders and the modern, full fibre connectivity delivered by our city networks, enables the solutions that underpin all of it.

Despite this, many schools try to limit costs by running their entire operation through insufficient connections; impacting efficiency and, ultimately, the bottom line.

A dedicated pure fibre connection to your premises can increase productivity and will give your business a digital foundation for a strong infrastructure.

  1. Book an Education disaster recovery consultancy session

Contact us to access a 2-hour consultation with our Technical Engineer for a full assessment of your communications from broadband to phone systems and networks, make recommendations and define or review your disaster recovery procedure within 30 days.


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