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Darrick Wood Secondary School Case Study

21 November 2019


Learn how Ideal helped to provide greater networking support for teachers and students


Built in 1975, Darrick Wood School is a mixed secondary school that prides itself on the academic achievements of its pupils and the exceptionally high level of commitment of its teaching staff. The school’s network system must be robust and flexible enough to support the IT demands of its 1700 plus pupils and 250 teachers, allowing them secure access from any device.


When the school’s in-house IT team found it needed the support of networking specialists with resources that they could not provide, they called on Ideal. ‘We started working with Ideal in 2010 as we needed a reliable provider to support our Cisco infrastructure,’ said Mike Slater, the Network and Operations Manager at Darrick Wood. ‘Ideal quickly established themselves as network experts with deep Cisco skills and became a trusted extension of our team.’

The existing Cisco infrastructure was nearing ‘end-of-life’ and the team couldn’t add any more access points. At the same time demand from the users had drastically increased year on year. At the school, IT is used in most lessons with even PE classes being filmed. There is also a high internet demand to support lessons in class. The staff had moved to Microsoft Office365, and most of the applications used were cloud-based which put a put high demand on the network - particularly with the increase in streaming and large files used for media studies, photography and video editing.

When a new building was added to the school in 2018, the IT team approached Ideal for a LAN and Wi-Fi refresh project, the main purpose being to provision the new building, but also future-proof the existing site.

Ideal Solution

"Ideal was the obvious choice for us as they’re a great company to work with. They provide excellent support and expertise and value for money, and their status with Cisco is a big help," said Mike.

The project needed to be completed during the summer school holidays which meant replacing the entire wired and wireless network, some 40 switches, in only five weeks. Ideal designed and installed a Cisco solution consisting of Catalyst 2960-X Series Switches for edge devices, Catalyst 9500 for core and a Meraki Wi-Fi.


"The project went ridiculously smoothly. It was delivered on-time and within budget, without any hitches", said Mike Slater. "The team at Ideal is very good at delivering change - perfect installation and a seamless transition. The engineers also helped with VLAN configuration, providing the latest best practice and invaluable advice."

‘Delivering a robust and reliable infrastructure not only supports the school’s needs today, but into the future too,’ added Mike. ‘Plus, the Meraki Wi-Fi is extremely easy for our team to manage and we can now offer a secure, competent BYOD system to our users. It’s segregated for safety, highly flexible and allows us to easily track network activity.’

Ideal – the ‘go-to’ network partner

Having a safe, reliable and robust network is paramount, especially for the school to retain it’s ‘World Class Schools Quality Mark’. ‘With the help of Ideal’s valuable input, their IT know-how and experience we can fully support the demands of our users,’ commented Mike, ‘Ideal really is our ‘go-to’ network partner. They’re not only friendly and approachable, but highly professional and reliable network experts. They make the school feel like an important customer that they genuinely want to help.’

Contact the Ideal team on 01273 957500, or get in touch online.


Header image ©Darrick Wood School