Walford Anglican School for Girls find the right partner to complement their unique forward-thinking approach
WHO ARE Walford Anglican School For Girls?
Walford Anglican School for Girls is an independent, Anglican, day and boarding school for girls, located in Hyde Park, South Australia. The school caters for approximately 594 students from ELC to Year 12, including 70 boarders.
Walford offers a dynamic, friendly, family-oriented environment where each girl is encouraged to be the best they can be. Progressive teaching and guidance are provided in state-of-the-art facilities giving students the very best preparation to follow their future ambitions and to prepare for higher education while developing essential life skills.
The curriculum, which is internationally recognised, is designed to equip students with the skills and knowledge needed to participate in a world that is ever-changing. Leveraging data obtained through assessment to inform and continually refine their approach, Walford’s culture is one built on strategic forward-thinking with technology at the core.
The partnership between Walford and Blackbird has spanned more than a decade and numerous challenges have been both identified and overcome throughout the course of the journey. And while some were a direct reflection of the changing times in an increasingly digital landscape, other more unique issues were brought forward by Walford themselves, born out their individuality and forward-thinking attitude.
Issues and initiatives:
- IT and technology as a core function in teaching students and preparing them for life after school.
- Resilient, secure, and highly available connectivity across the entire campus.
- Working with young students to provide endpoint devices that are robust, fit for purpose, secured and safe, and easily manageable.
- A security-minded culture, where students are provided with the knowledge to identify technology threats instead of only relying on the endpoint management.
- Information Security: Meeting expectations from students and parents that their information is secure, and students are being prepared for the real-life challenges that await them post-schooling.
- Flexible and agile infrastructure rollout, that can facilitate secure anytime, anywhere learning.
- Safe and secure guest access to the school’s Wi-Fi network.
- Providing support for the internal IT team, freeing up time for them to focus on learning outcomes instead of just day-to-day operations and functionality.
A big part of the Walford culture is the inclusivity and overall student focus. Having the right IT partner to support that culture and enable their forward-thinking vision has always been a big sticking point for the school.
“We tend to do things a little differently here. We don’t go out to be exactly the same as everyone else, we’re a bit left of field in that sense. Not every initiative works perfectly, but we always learn from the experience and that’s what we try and tell our students, and that’s what we try to set the example for. Blackbird IT has played a significant role in enabling us to do that over the years.” – Walford Anglican School for Girls, IT Operations Manager, Kyle Heading
WHY BLACKBIRD IT
It was Walford’s forward-thinking approach that initially led the school to engage with Blackbird IT many years ago on a purely procurement basis. But over the years, as technology and its importance to learning outcomes has increased, that relationship has blossomed into one built on mutual respect and expertise, with Blackbird IT acting as both a trusted IT adviser, and procurement and services provider.
“In my time everyone at Blackbird IT bends over backwards and makes it as easy as possible for us to do what we do. I remember a lot of the work we did in the early days was literally Blackbird IT coming out and doing the hard yards for us as well, and we have a team of four. The relationship has always been really good, a partnership.” – Walford Anglican School for Girls, IT Operations Manager, Kyle Heading
THE SOLUTION & PROJECT EXECUTION
New projects at Walford are always undertaken holistically. The Blackbird IT team sits down with the school’s relevant stakeholders to understand the outcomes needed and from there it is broken down into individual components based on priority.
The Blackbird IT team identifies the major issues before detailing available options to deliver the desired outcome. The discussion always centres around the notion of; ‘how do you define success?’ It is core to all engagements and discussions and includes identifying what it will look like in six months’ time. Yes, technical elements are discussed, but the primary focus is always on what the project should ultimately achieve.
Over the years, such projects have included:
- Strong cybersecurity focus including the implementation of Sophos Virtual XG, Sophos Endpoint and a Unified Threat Management (UTM) system.
- The implementation and ongoing support and maintenance of a hosted Disaster Recovery (DR) environment.
- Implementation of Jamf for endpoint device management.
- Networking infrastructure with Aruba Networks technology.
- Implementation of Sine for visitor check-ins.
- Microsoft 365 migration.
- NBN infrastructure and connectivity for two remote sites.
- Implementation and support of current server and storage infrastructure.
- Numerous cloud-hosted initiatives.
- Implementation of Sophos Unified Threat Management Virtual (UTM).
THE BUSINESS OUTCOMES
Over the course of such a long and fruitful relationship, Walford Anglican School for Girls has seen a host of key business outcomes emerge.
- Thanks to numerous cloud-hosted initiatives and a robust infrastructure environment, Walford experiences minimal downtime. Blackbird IT is aligned with the internal IT team to quickly remediate any issues.
- The strong cybersecurity focus across the school has delivered a security-first mindset not only in theory, but in practice too. It gives the entire school community piece of mind knowing teaching and learning can take place with the confidence that cyber threats are considered, monitored and addressed in this dynamic environment.
- The overall infrastructure environment delivers flexibility and the ability to react quickly to changing circumstances, which was critical with the rapid migration to remote learning from the global health crisis. Walford’s dynamic IT environment meant business as usual for the entire school community could be maintained. In fact the school had independently planned for remote working prior to the pandemic. This forward-thinking approach and preparedness is just the kind of leadership that enables resilient service delivery for the school.
- The complete ecosystem including staff and systems are already geared for remote working with resiliency factored in. The hard work had already been done enabling minimal disruption and less stress for staff and students.
- The internal IT team of four have the necessary time available to focus on the school initiatives that define Walford, driving their unique approach with time to explore innovation, new technology to deliver strong learning outcomes and engagement for all their students.
For the school’s IT Operations Manager, Kyle Heading, it is all about having the expertise to lean on, and support in managing some day-to-day operational tasks that really delivers value for him and his team.
“Time is a real challenge for us. We don’t have a lot of it because of everything that we’re trying to do for our staff and students, so anything that Blackbird IT can do to help make life easier for us is a big plus. Whether it’s automating server updates, doing backups or creating scripts and things that can automate certain processes, that’s a big thing for us because it gives us time back to do the other things that create such value for our community.” – Walford Anglican School for Girls, IT Operations Manager, Kyle Heading
Like any great school looking to make the most out of their IT investment, there’s always the next big thing just over the horizon. “Having Blackbird IT as a trusted adviser that we can lean on for advice throughout the process is fantastic.” – Walford Anglican School for Girls, IT Operations Manager, Kyle Heading.
To learn how Blackbird IT can help you thrive amidst disruption, get in touch with our friendly team today by visiting blackbirdit.com.au/contact