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Rugby Free Secondary School was being moved by a third party that was suddenly unable to fulfil the RM1050 contract. Nexus stepped in, with the DfE, to deliver their complex ICT decant programme. We spearheaded their total ICT refresh programme at the same time.

Logo of rfss with the motto 'ludis studiis' in a purple circle overlaid by a smaller circle featuring a complex white house icon.

The Client

Rugby Free Secondary School & Rugby Free Primary School
The school has 1,470 pupils in years 7 to 13 and 420 pupils from Reception to Year 6

The Situation

The DfE asked us to step in and rescue this school's complex ICT decant and refresh programme, when the contracted provider was unable to deliver the RM1050 contract.

The Challenge

We took over an interrupted project with very tight timelines looming. The challenge was to deliver an ICT solution and complex decant programme from temporary accommodation to the part new-build and then into final new building. We also needed to deliver their ICT refresh programme at the same time.

Major challenges to overcome

The RM1050 contract, to supply ICT solutions and support to Rugby Free Secondary School, was being delivered by a third party unable to fulfil the contract in late November 2019. Nexus stepped in with the support of the DfE to review the School’s situation and tight timelines to deliver an ICT solution and complex ICT decant programme from temporary; through part new-build; into final new building, including an ICT refresh programme.

Following successful delivery of the Secondary School, the Trust commissioned Nexus to undertake a Primary School infrastructure review, and develop and implement a refresh programme and Migration Plan.

Our Future-proof Solution

The original Secondary School ICT solution was developed for a 2017 handover date. The protracted build programme resulted in a new building occupation date of 2020, into which the legacy equipment was to be moved. Engaged 3 months before handover, our Technical Architect, Simon Barclay, quickly established that the original solution was no longer ‘fit for purpose’, as well as identifying that much of the original equipment was now approaching ‘end of life’. Simon worked closely with the Trust CEO, School Headteacher and IT Manager to fully understand the requirements for the new environments and allow for future expansion. With the solution agreed, Nexus was challenged with securing delivery within a matter of weeks and installation in a week, rather than the 3 weeks minimum originally allowed. With an integrated contractor’s room complete and ICT installation programme agreed, Nexus ensured all equipment was installed over the one-week February half term, completing all areas in time for the agreed Monday opening.

Our innovative approach to deliver a complex ICT decant & refresh programme to a tight deadline

How we overcame unavailable ICT stock to get the complex ICT decant back on track

With a long delay to programme and occupation of the new building, the original solution design was not fit for the Trust’s 2020 teaching and learning vision, and stock was no longer available in the original bundles detailed in the Bill of Materials. Simon developed a solution of a higher specification, including upgraded server processors and enhanced wireless (using the latest Wi-Fi 6 standards), and encouraged the Procurement team to draw on their relationships with suppliers. Following strong negotiation with the supply chain, we managed to secure higher quality equipment for the original budget and ordered the items to arrive in time for our team to build the bundles on-site, without affecting the programme.

We used contingencies to manage risk

With a very tight programme for product delivery and the risk of unavailable stock, we developed a solution that could re-use existing legacy equipment wherever possible. Our PRINCE2 qualified Project Manager worked with the School Headteacher and Trust CEO to agree on the minimum requirements, e.g. for switches and network points, and developed a minimum requirement solution, which we built from the legacy equipment alongside the new solution. With a working solution in place we were able to effectively transfer files to the new system with no disruption to teaching and learning and the school opening.

Our project management experience paid off

Simon led collaborative workshops with the building contractor to ensure an integrated approach to project delivery. With concerns over the proposed ‘finished’ rooms, he led a walkaround across the building with the Trust CEO (Brenda Mullen), DfE ICT Advisor (Upendra Patel), and building contractor’s Site Manager and Project Manager, identifying areas of concern (in particular with the data and power points, which were not installed to the contract drawings), along with readiness checks throughout the building (including Server and Hub Rooms). Simon presented a full list of required changes and ensured these were all implemented in a timely manner.

How we Resolved Primary School ICT Infrastructure Challenges

Following the completion of the Secondary School project our Technical Architect, Sandeep Panesar, highlighted concerns over the Primary School Infrastructure, identifying a number of key areas that required urgent attention. He was commissioned to carry out an audit and present a proposal, to the Trust CEO and Strategic IT Manager, to address the immediate challenges, including alternative options based around core infrastructure services.

Our cost-effective, bespoke solution

Following a comprehensive audit, Sandeep identified that the Primary School servers and network were not fit-for-purpose, due to old equipment, and a lack of updates resulting from lapsed warranties. Sandeep developed a future Migration Plan, centred on Cloud-based collaboration services that would present immediate improvements and allow easier on-boarding of potential new Trust schools in the future. Following presentation of 3 alternative options (with supporting budgets and pros/cons for each) he worked collaboratively with the Trust to develop a hybrid solution, bespoke to the Primary School; and making best use of a restricted budget whilst delivering a solution that would be efficient to manage on-site, without the need for our ongoing, on-site support.

Transitioning to easy, on-site management

The Primary School, industry-standard solution was designed in-line with the new Secondary School solution, which their IT Manager was confident in managing. Once installed (although not part of our contract), our Project Manager carried out one-to-one Familiarisation Training with the IT Manager to ensure confidence in managing the services, as we transitioned the school to our 3rd Line Support only, removing the need for our on-site team.

“Nexus rose to the challenge and worked collaboratively with the Trust to design and deliver bespoke network solutions to support both our schools now and into the future. They ensured the cost-effective solutions were easy for our on-site team to manage, with the back-up of their 3rd Line Support.”

Kevin McKenzieStrategic IT Manager, Learning Today Leading Tomorrow MAT