I had previously installed a small Local Area Network (LAN) of 11 Acorn computers in an auxiliary room near the staff room. This room was too small, stuffy and very overcrowded with up to 35 children trying to work with 3 children sharing each computer. The one major discovery I had made with the networking of this room was that I could run all of our software from one hard disc on a single machine and lock away all floppies and CD ROMS. This freedom from local discs for each machine was an absolute blessing, and greatly reduced the amount of my time that was wasted making sure each workstation had its correct selection of software in a box on the trolley. Printing was also greatly simplified, with only one printer attached to the network and everyone able to access it. From this starting point I was attempting to look to the future and plan a system that would be simple and economical to maintain and yet offer widespread access to all our software as well as the Internet and printing services. I had been researching the possibilities of "Thin Client Solutions" for schools for some time and was becoming convinced that the technology was sufficiently stable and mature as to stand the test of a school environment.
The new computer room has 28 Network Computers (NCs) and 2 full multimedia PCs. The 2 PCs are present to allow access to scanning services and a hook up for a digital camera. All software is available via the network, directly from the hard disc or from a CD Serve box that can hold up to 28 full CDs. There is full Internet access on all the NCs and PCs as well as full printing services to our Laser printer. Each teacher in the school has their own personal E-mail address and private mailbox that is available no matter what computer they login from. There is a Data Projector in the new computer room which greatly assists the introduction of new software and for demonstrating techniques. The benches were specifically designed, by the staff, and styled to suit the room and have received many compliments from all who have visited the school. We bought 30 second hand swivel chairs from a furniture liquidation company in "as new" condition. The school alarm system was extended to cover the new room more fully with sensors on the windows and doors as well as internal movement sensors.