Harlow Fields School and College finds the winning formula

Harlow Fields School and College is a special needs school based in Harlow, Essex. It educates 158 pupils with severe, moderate and complex learning difficulties. Pupils range from the ages of 5 right through to 19.

The school aspires to promote every pupil’s academic, social, physical and emotional development by teaching them to acquire the knowledge and skills they need to reach their full potential and develop independent skills for life.

Harlow Fields School and College is an inclusive, vibrant learning environment offering high quality education and care for all. Their aim is to help learners to grow into valued and confident members of the community in which they live and in the wider society.

The school is committed to providing a happy, positive, secure learning and social environment in which all members of the school community feel valued. It achieves this by meeting every child’s needs by understanding the individual and diverse ways in which pupils learn and develop, together with giving every pupil and student access to a broad, balanced and relevant curriculum taking account of their learning styles and interests.

The challenge
The school was considering a rolling programme to replace the SMART Board interactive whiteboards and projectors they had been using for 10 years. The equipment had aged and the school knew it had to not only think about replacing it, but also trying to future-proof it. The existing technology was unpredictable – it was difficult to plan for replacements of any parts which broke down, particularly bulbs in the projectors, which can be costly. “Projectors and whiteboards can be tricky to use with pupils with special educational needs because of reliability issues,” commented John Holland, Business Manager. “You never know when a bulb might need replacing, which eats into teaching time and has an adverse effect on the pupils.”

The school had visited the BETT Show where they discovered CTOUCH. “There were lots of interactive screens to see, but we kept coming back to CTOUCH because it was so user friendly and great value,” said John. The team decided to pay one last visit to the CTOUCH stand, where they entered a raffle to win a CTOUCH 65” Laser Air+. “We couldn’t believe it when our ticket was pulled out,” added John. “We never enter raffles, as we never win. When an existing projector failed, the head teacher decided that the school would upgrade its classrooms. To keep to its commitment of meeting all their pupils’ learning needs, it was decided that CTOUCH was the way to go, given the positive experience with the screen they had won.

The solution
Once the decision had been made, Harlow Fields called on their main IT partner, IntermIT, to devise a plan to upgrade all the classrooms. IntermIT proved to be extremely helpful in the ordering process, taking the pressure off the school.

The plan is to fit out all classrooms with a mixture of CTOUCH Laser Air + and Laser Sky screens as part of a rolling upgrade programme. Installing the screens has not only helped the school to modernise its classrooms, but also to plan its finances. They achieve this by not having to estimate the maintenance required on projectors, including any bulbs that may need to be replaced.

In addition to this, the school felt that choosing CTOUCH helped to future-proof the technology used in their classrooms, with features such as carefully selected Android apps that work right out of the box and the Live-stage surround sound, which makes lessons more engaging.

“We knew that upgrading our screens had to make sense for the school, teachers and pupils alike. We needed something that would help our pupils learn in an engaging environment, whilst helping the school to allocate it budgets accurately. Knowing we won’t have any unexpected repair costs helps us do just that,” John added.

The result
The biggest impact for the teachers has been just how easy CTOUCH screens are to use. The learning curve has been simple for them. In addition, the teaching staff has reported that the visual quality is superb, which means they can involve all pupils by using great graphics.

But more than anything, CTOUCH has provided the reliability the school needed. The teachers are just able to switch them on and teach, which has a huge impact on teaching pupils with special educational needs. Teachers spend less time on dealing with any technical issues that might come up and more time on teaching. This, in turn, has resulted in more learning and interaction taking place.

"For us, value and ease of use were key in choosing new screens, CTOUCH gives us both"

“CTOUCH gives us the reliability we need. Teachers don’t have to waste time sorting out the technology and can spend more time teaching, resulting in more time with pupils,” says John. “For us, value and ease of use were key in choosing new screens. CTOUCH gives us both and we’d heartily recommend them to other schools.”

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