Computer, Web and Media Services
The main aim of the Computer Services Department is to deliver a prompt and effective IT support service via a single point of contact for both staff and students. In addition to providing first level support the department is tasked with maintaining the school's data, telephony, security and audio visual infrastructure and all associated IT equipment.
The Computer Services Department was established during the first quarter of 1997. During the first 6 months significant changes to the network infrastructure were made. These changes were made in order to improve reliability, accommodate growth without compromising performance, and also to allow for effective network management.
Originally the school had 13 fileservers with a mixture of operating systems including Netware 3.11, 4.1 and Windows NT. These servers proved unreliable and difficult to support due to the age and specification of the equipment. As a result the number of fileservers was reduced and a 'server farm' was established within the Computer Services Department.
The primary network operating system is Microsoft Windows Server 2008 R2, upon which runs the schools Active Directory environment, file, print and email servers utilising Microsoft Exchange 2010, as well as an extensive number of virtual servers. During the summer of 2010, Microsoft's Windows 7 Professional desktop operating system was deployed across the site to the schools workstations. The preferred deployment method is Windows Deployment Services running alongside Microsoft Deployment Toolkit 2010 (MDT 2010).
Virtualisation technology is provided by the VMWare ESXi 5.1 operating system in a 4 node cluster connected at 10Gbps, managed by VMWare vCentre Server. This environment also has direct management of the both the physical and virtual server environments including Cisco network infrastructure for Madeley Academy.
Within the virtual environment features such as High Availability (HA), Distributed Resource Scheduler (DRS) and VMotion are taken advantage of, providing automatic redundancy failover and the ability to move live virtual servers between cluster nodes on the fly.
The schools network infrastructure was upgraded in the 3rd quarter of 2007 from an aging 3com system, to the latest Cisco switching technology. A Cisco Catalyst 6500 is installed at the core and Catalyst 3750 switches at the edge locations. Etherchanneling is configured on fibre connections to the edge switches to provide optimal throughput.
The School has a significant Internet presence at Telford with a primary 100Mbps connection and a secondary 10Mbps connection. Multiple dedicated web servers running Windows IIS, host all online content, including Thomas Telford School's Online Curriculum and web sites. Additionally, Madeley Academy and Bulwell Academy web sites are hosted within our data-centre. Our content has reached over a million students nationally, and over 1,000 schools have subscribed to our online content. All servers are managed and maintained by the Computer Services staff.
The School Extranet, a private connection to our network, makes all user content accessible to Students and Staff from anywhere in the world via our own homepage. This virtual office environment allows both Staff and Students to transfer work to and from school. Only staff and students with current user IDs and passwords are able to make use of this facility.
Firewall services are provided by Watchguard devices, which restrict unauthorised access to the School's private network; additionally redundancy and failover of the schools 2 internet connections are also managed by these devices, ensuring that the school does not experience any internet down time. Sophos Anti-virus products are installed site wide to provide the school with protection against virus infection and the installation of malware and spyware. Additionally Sophos is also trusted to provide the school with internet content filtering via Sophos Web Appliances. This is complimented by an Sophos Email Appliances to protect the schools email system against malicious viruses and spam.
Network maintenance and system monitoring is managed centrally. All PCs have remote management capability, which enables the system administrator to monitor, and if required, take control of any PC where a student may be having difficulties.
There are circa 550 Dell Precision Workstations and 67 electronic whiteboards (Smartboards) connected to the network, all of which have Internet access. Electronic whiteboards are situated throughout the School and can be found in all subject areas. These are well received by both staff and students.
As part of the Department's commitment to the community, over 20 Electronic Smartboards into local Primary and Secondary Schools, and over 1500 workstations and 180 electronic whiteboards within 3 new city academies sponsored by the school.
Embedded audio and video feature extensively within our Online Curriculum and to facilitate the creation and editing of this content, the School has a professional video-editing and recording studio. This includes AVID Nitris editing equipment. In addition, video content is distributed around the school via a video over Category 5 A/V Matrix provided by Scion Technologies.
Content on this system is distributed centrally from within the computer services department, allowing for content to be policed accordingly on audience age certification. Remote control of the video is also provided to classroom locations with infrared being able to be transmitted over the Cat 5 A/V system, back to the desired player.
In addition to the schools broadcast system a recent modernisation to the schools theatre system has also taken place. Improving the Audio/Visual experience to include a Full HD 16:9 widescreen projector, which is then complemented by a 5.1 surround sound system, providing a true cinematic experience.
Within the Computer Services Department there is a continued desire to move the existing technology forward and maintain Thomas Telford's position as a leading City Technology College both academically and technically. To this end we intend to continue to research new technologies that will complement the delivery of the curriculum. We believe that we are in a position to make available a range of exciting tools that will make the learning experience for our students both effective and enjoyable.
The Team Structure
Robert Cullen MCNE - IT Director
Dave Smith - IT Support Engineer
Chris Watson - IT Support Engineer
Leigh Smith - Senior Developer
Jonathan Hammond - Video Editor
Martin Davies - Video Editor
All Information Technology support for both staff and students is managed via the Computer Services Department. Computer Services provide a ‘helpdesk’ facility, which is located centrally within the School. Students and staff can call at the helpdesk between 08:00 and 17:15 to receive help and support.
The IT Director is responsible for the day-to-day running of the department. In addition all IT purchases and maintenance issues are made at this level. The IT Director is a qualified Novell MCNE and ultimately responsible for support, maintenance, and future planning of the entire network.
The IT Support Staff provide a first point of contact for both staff and students. All service requests are logged, prioritised and allocated at the Help Desk. The IT Support Staff provide a rapid response to service requests. They are required to resolve all manner of IT related problems effectively and in an informative manner.
View our Network Layout
Web and Media Services
All Online Curriculum and Website support for both staff and students along with video, editing, web, graphics and flash animation work is managed and produced via the Media Services Department.
A weekly Broadcast is produced and uploaded to the website along with a weekly Star Student.
Computer and Media Services Team