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IT experts help re-boot local schools

|Source: University of Portsmouth

Schoolchildren in Portsmouth will be amongst the first to benefit from a novel way of improving IT skills, thanks to the University of Portsmouth IT department.

This collaboration between the University and the city for the benefit of education and schools in Portsmouth is a rare and exciting thing. When such key but autonomous influencers come together to try and make a tangible difference, I believe that there is a real commitment to make things happen. Making that difference in educational ICT is a very worthwhile and necessary thing to do.

- Mel Burns,
Head of ICT, Portsmouth City Council
Working in collaboration with with Portsmouth City Council, the University is one of five organisations to have won funding from the Higher Education Funding Council (Hefce) to investigate ways of sharing resources and providing good practice examples for other towns and cities to follow.

The not-for-profit Portsmouth project aims to raise the standard and quality of IT across the city’s schools and colleges, reduce costs and avoiding duplicated services.

Stuart Graves, from the University’s IT Department, who is managing the project said: “Sharing services and the expertise available within the University is one way we can help others locally. It’s also in line with the University’s broader aim of widening participation. Portsmouth, historically, has a low rate of people going on to study at higher education."

The project will begin with research to identify which local schools and colleges have IT problems or needs the University can help with. The University hopes to be able to employ some students to help, for example, by giving tailored IT training and support, which has the added benefit of helping students boost their CVs.

Two pilot studies will form part of the reasearch: providing Google Apps for Education within a school, to showcase its enhanced teaching and learning possibilities, and trialing a Wifi in a Box solution, allowing increased wifi infrastructure with minimal support requirements for schools and colleges.

The university will deliver a feasibility report by next February detailing the appropriate company structure and business model for a cost sharing group to provide world class Information Technology for educational institutions in and around Portsmouth.