What does IT Support for schools mean?

With the large and growing reliance on computer technology in classrooms—from laptops and interactive screens to wireless networks and educational software—it will come as no surprise that an IT or technical support contract has become a fundamental service level agreement (SLA) that almost every school will have invested in. 

The question is: what should IT support for schools actually involve, and what makes for a good support service?

Many of these answers will be subject to the size and type of school. Whether it’s a primary school, high school, or a multi-academy trust, every education establishment’s needs are different. 

Regardless of these considerations, however, there remain three core elements that every effective service should include. Let’s explore some of these essential features. 

Reactive support 

Reactive support provides schools with a rapid response when an emergency occurs. A typical case would be if a wireless network failed and students were unable to access vital online learning resources. Much like an emergency plumber, when the worst happens, schools need to know the crisis can be rectified quickly, or, at least, they can be provided with a workaround solution to mitigate the issue. Reactive support offers quick and efficient IT resolutions to help tackle unexpected technology challenges.

A reactive support provider should offer an SLA that makes clear how quickly they will be able to offer assistance. You should, for example, expect a quicker response for a major incident that impacts multiple users, compared to a problem with a single device where the effects are relatively self-contained and manageable. 

A useful feature that demonstrates an understanding of the education sector would be the presence of an enhanced SLA in the event of an OFSTED visit. A school might also require a wider focus on user satisfaction KPIs to supplement the SLA, to ensure that teacher’s needs are being met by the service.

This approach helps IT support staff identify developing issues and prevents them from turning into more significant problems.

Proactive support

Proactive support provides some degree of routine maintenance and monitoring of the school's IT network. This approach helps IT support staff identify developing issues and prevents them from turning into more significant problems. An example of this kind of support would be the regular updating of software on staff member’s laptops to make sure they are as secure as possible—or, alternatively, earmarking a device that is running low on storage before it prevents students being able to save their work. 

More often than not, this will entail an on-site visit from a technician or consultant and, where possible, this should be the same individual, in order to maintain consistency. This offers support service teams the opportunity to understand, in detail, the systems installed in each individual school and to identify ways in which they might be improved.

This will make for a wholly more efficient support and response process in the long term.

Strategic support 

IT is an ever-changing and complex area, and few education professionals will have the time or the inclination to research the latest developments in ed-tech. An effective support service provider, on the other hand, will use their detailed understanding of the network to recommend future replacements and upgrades. In the long run, this will assist schools with their budget management.

Fundamentally, a good strategic support service will offset the downtime caused by outdated systems and will even support the school's development plan through the more effective use of technology.

Computeam Manage IT Support: the best of both worlds

With a 23-year track record of providing schools with high-quality IT support services, Computeam are well-equipped to offer solutions for every type and size of school. From high schools and primaries, to multi-academy trusts, we can devise the best IT support strategy for your needs.

A large number of our clients have signed up to Smart Support; a fully managed service which combines the benefits of rapid-fire reactive support with regular proactive visits from a named technical consultant, as well as offering vital strategic planning services.  One of the major benefits of enrolling in the Smart Support service is that technicians are afforded more time to complete proactive tasks and improve the performance of your network and IT systems during their scheduled visits.

Meanwhile, large secondary schools or MATs with an in-house IT support team often perform their own reactive and proactive maintenance, while our Core Support package provides that all-important safety net when major issues occur, alongside strategic input for the service level agreement.

With either Support model, we utilise the latest cutting edge remote monitoring and service delivery platforms to ensure that networks are proactively maintained and that issues are tracked, managed and swiftly resolved every time.

How can we help?

If you are looking to review your school's IT support service, don't be afraid to challenge your provider to ensure they are taking into account all your requirements. Meanwhile, if you want to benchmark their service please pick up the phone and give one of our team a call.

Posted on March 17th 2022

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