SCHOOLCHILDREN in Portsmouth are going to be the first to benefit from a novel way of improving their computer skills.
The University of Portsmouth’s information technology (IT) department has won £30,000 in funding from the Higher Education Funding Council to find out what IT services need to be improved in schools and to see where the services and resources can be shared.
The project is not-for-profit and aims to raise the standard and quality of IT across the city’s schools and colleges, while also reducing costs and avoiding duplicating services.
It is being managed by Stuart Graves, from the university’s IT Department.
He said: ‘Sharing services and the expertise available within the university is one way we can help others locally.
‘We are already working with two schools as a pilot study to see what IT services they feel need improving. With the funding, we are able to improve them and make the services better.
‘For example, one school might need better WiFi connections so we can look to do that.’
The university is working in collaboration with Portsmouth City Council on the project.
The council’s head of ICT, Mel Burns, said: ‘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 IT is a very worthwhile and necessary thing to do.’
With two schools already signed up, the university is hoping to get more schools and colleges involved.
Once they do, Mr Graves said they can look to see if one common issue comes up which they can tackle.
‘The aim is to improve IT services for lots of schools and work together to share resources,’ he added.
‘If one common problem crops up, we can look at improving that across the city.
‘There are a number of challenges with this type of project, including the challenge of identifying shared services for such a wide range of educational institutions, each with their own IT pressures and requirements, some of whom may be in competition with each other.’