Connect the Classroom

Connect the Classroom is a funding programme run by the Department for Education (DfE) to help schools enjoy the benefits of modern WiFi solutions to provide rich educational student experiences and a more efficient working environment for staff. The Connect the Classroom scheme ensures rural and older school wireless IT infrastructures are brought up to date to mirror the WiFi standards enjoyed in new-build schools.

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About the Connect the Classroom scheme

The DfE is offering Connect the Classroom grants to schools across the UK. This means schools and multi academy trusts will need to search for suppliers that can provide, install and support WiFi hardware that meets the criteria of the funding, e.g. Connect the Classroom funding stipulates the use of WiFi 6 access points and a five-year warranty as a minimum.

Connect the Classroom projects may also require the installation of server racks and data cabinets to host modern core switches and connectivity equipment. Your school may also require fibre connectivity between the core cabinet and any edge cabinets, and CAT6 cabling for any new WiFi access points.

The DfE only provides funding for what appear to be very high spec WiFi solutions. There is a reason for this. New tablets, laptops, PCs and phones will work best in a WiFi 6 environment. When they are connected to older access points, they will simply revert to the lower standards of these and will be less efficient. Even smaller schools that are eligible for Connect the Classroom funding will need to seek out a supplier that can meet the criteria.

But don’t worry! We take care of all the solution design, we help you with your funding application and we provide all the engineering work required for deployment.

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Focus Group
Focus Group
Focus Group
Focus Group
Focus Group
Focus Group

Does your school need better WiFi?

You may think your school WiFi network is working fine or is at least acceptable for most of the time. Here are a few pain points for you to consider. If you are suffering any of these, then chances are you would benefit from an updated WiFi solution.

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Dead spots with no coverage

If your school has dead spots where there is zero or poor connectivity, you can overcome this issue by installing modern hardware and/or increasing the number of WiFi access points on site and in school grounds.

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Devices cannot connect to the WiFi network

There is no point having an ultrafast internet connection if your older WiFi access points are failing and are incompatible with modern wireless devices.

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Painfully slow speeds

The latest WiFi standard is called WiFi 6 (also known as 802.11 AX). Any access points older than this will start to struggle as they won’t be able to operate at the newer standards. In short, newer devices will not work as efficiently If schools are using old wireless technology.

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Security risk

Ransomware is a growing threat for schools. Schools have found themselves unable to access their servers, files and IT systems leading to severe disruption. Older WiFi solutions, which do not benefit from regular security patches, offer an entry point for hackers.

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No guest access or management

Guests entering a school site must sign in and out to protect students and staff. This same process should apply to a school network. No-one should be allowed to access your WiFi network unless they are known to you.

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Lack of network management tools

IT managers can identify areas that are struggling to handle high numbers of devices and the increased traffic putting a strain on bandwidth. This information can help them make decisions on what can be accessed, e.g. YouTube videos, to maximise bandwidth for teaching purposes.

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Your Connect the Classroom claim

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1. Engagement

Initial contact will be made either directly by the DfE or through a responsible body, such as your local authority, MAT or diocese.

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2. Assessment

Each school submits a network asset form and completes a survey. The responsible body can do this on behalf of the school. This phase confirms acceptance on the project.

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3. Procurement

Once accepted, your school selects their preferred supplier and submits the cost matrix to DfE for approval. The DfE give the school a funding agreement to the value of the approved level of cost.

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4. Technical evalutation

Your selected supplier attends site to complete a site survey to confirm specification and dependencies.

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5. Delivery

Your school or responsible body liaises with their supplier to schedule works.

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6. Claim

You school will invoice for all or part of the works. Multiple payments are allowed as work is completed. We will only invoice you to trigger the partial claim and payment is expected once the DfE has made the payment to your school on their weekly Friday payment run. DfE channels payment through the school or responsible body, not the supplier.

Customer stories

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Hurstpierpoint College

Focus Group scored top marks with the delivery of a brand new, futureproof telephony system to replace an ageing network.

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North Warwickshire & Hinckley College

A hosted telephony solution transformed communications at the college, leading to increased flexibility and cost savings.

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ACS International Schools

ACS conducted a vast amount of research prior to selecting Focus Group as a technology partner to deliver a leading Cisco network.

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