The Arnewood School is a mixed, mainstream academy for pupils between the ages of 11 and 19. Based in Hampshire, it has over 1,100 students and gained Technology College status in 2007. Arnewood prides itself on its provision and use of IT and computers. The school has six ICT rooms, including an Expressive Arts centre which contains digital media and photography provisions for the students. In addition to providing a laptop for every member of staff, the school runs an innovative family laptop programme that allows students to make use of a personal computer in school and at home. This scheme was praised by Ofsted in their 2008 report:
“The school’s family laptop scheme for years 7 and 8 provides a good foundation for the development of ICT and independent learning skills”, Ofsted inspectors said.
With their commitment to computer technology and state-of-the-art infrastructure, Arnewood needed a way to manage the school’s assets effectively. Their responsibility is compounded by their academy status, and the obligation for the school to manage its own finances. Keeping track of their resources for the annual audit was a logistical challenge, with the potential for costly mistakes if software licenses were not renewed or unnecessary equipment was purchased. And it was not just their information technology; every piece of equipment the school owned had to be accounted for.
This is where SG World had a solution to keep the tagging and monitoring from becoming overwhelming. AudIT is a specialist asset management software suite for schools. AudIT allows its users to manage their computer equipment, software programme licences and other assets, such as furniture and equipment, all via an extremely easy-to-use interface. The software can also be used via smartphone, and there is an option to create a virtual environment map of the entire school.
The Arnewood School has been using this software with great success. For such a large school, previous audits had been a gruelling task. Nigel Pressnell, the school’s Deputy Headteacher, explains,
“As a Foundation School, we were responsible for our budgeting and accountability — the buck stopped with us! It became clear that, in order to avoid staff wasting hours on time-consuming administration and to ensure proper planning, we needed to find a software package to do the hard work for us.”
The software not only helps with administration, tracking and planning, it also assists Arnewood School with keeping unwanted or potentially damaging software off their machines. Nigel Pressnell said:
“Having a system that automatically tracks all PCs also benefits behaviour management and helps to keep students on task. The ICT technicians are aware whenever any new software is loaded onto a school PC or laptop. Occasionally, students try to install something non-educational — games for example. We are aware when this is happening and a quiet word ensures that the computers are used only for schoolwork. [This software] also guards against pupils installing potentially disruptive hacking tools or software that enable them to bypass the schools filtering systems and access inappropriate material. We are alerted to this immediately.”
With Arnewood’s obligation to manage their own finances, under the directions in the Academies Financial Handbook, AudIT was a perfect solution to help them avoid the costly mistakes of mismanaged technology infrastructure by showing, at a glance, what the school already owns.
For a school like Arnewood which uses more than 80 pieces of licenced software, knowing when – and whether – to renew licences had become a very complex task. Losing track of this information risked running software illegally which is a criminal offence, not to mention large fines. Because AudIT demonstrates usage of different computer programmes, informed decisions about which software programme licences to renew is made easier, too. Nigel Pressnell explains,
“The easy to navigate interface disguises the underlying complexity of an application that is not only effective as an asset management tool, but also as an expert system guiding school leaders towards sensible purchasing decisions. Storing all the information in one database makes it easy to see what hardware and software is well catered for and what is lacking. We can use this information to make carefully considered decisions on what equipment we need to invest in for the future.”
SG World offers a full on-site asset discovery service, where they send engineers to a school to map the school and room layouts directly into the AudIT software, leaving a fully functioning asset management system in place. Annual reviews and audits of all assets can also be completed by SG World, fulfilling an Academy’s formal responsibility for this task.
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