Avaya and Loughborough Schools Foundation launch UK-first communications solution to help keep students safe and staff connected

Avaya smart campus solutions increase security and child safety, encouraging smarter use of communications and collaboration

Guildford, UK – July 24th 2019 – Avaya Holdings Corp. (NYSE: AVYA) today announces that its technology has enabled Loughborough Schools Foundation, a group of four independent schools and a nursery in Leicestershire, to introduce a ‘Safe School’ solution, the first of its kind in the UK, and putting the school’s communications technology strategy far ahead of that traditionally found in the education sphere. The solution was implemented by Loughborough-based telecoms company and Avaya business partner, Evoke Telecom.

The Foundation is taking an omnichannel approach to campus communications and school safety, so that when the Foundation needs to broadcast a message it can do so instantly. The Avaya smart campus telephony solution, which links all campuses in the Foundation together in one single telecoms system, is central to realising its ambitions to help keep every student safe and give teachers and staff the latest innovations in digital communications technology.

Many education leaders in the UK are calling for schools to remain a safe environment amid a spate of increasing violent incidents, according to a Freedom of Information request made by The Guardian. According to the Office of National Statistics (ONS), knife crime has increased by 22% in England and Wales since 2014. Combined with this, students are increasingly digitally savvy. With 25% of children under 6 already having their own mobile phone, in many cases students can communicate faster than teachers and school staff who are relying on outdated systems.

With responsibility for more than 2,000 fee-paying pupils across its premises, the Foundation takes safety extremely seriously. Even before a UK government consultation on school safety, the Foundation was exploring systems that would allow classroom lockdown, as well as lockout, to give it greater control of its large campuses in an emergency. It also wanted a system to enable staff to more efficiently communicate with each other, students’ families and emergency services.

The Foundation selected Avaya smart campus IP telephony solutions to connect more than 600 Avaya handsets in classrooms and offices across the educational establishment. The solution enables the Foundation to communicate through traditional phones, simultaneous SMS messages, as well as through screen pops on computer terminals and broadcast messages over tannoys and digital radio. Using an advanced network of communication channels it will be able to implement both lockdown and lockout instantly across every campus, potentially including the ability to control electronic door locks in the future. This is functionality that wasn’t possible with the disparate mix of phone systems and handsets the Foundation was using previously.

Richard Smeeton, Director of IT, Loughborough Schools Foundation, said, “We are committed to going above and beyond to ensure our students are safe and our teachers are empowered to deliver that through sophisticated communications systems that are at the forefront of technology innovation. Not only can we now give parents better peace of mind, but because external communication is now much more efficient, school admin staff have been reporting how much easier it is to find pupils who missed registration. Our IT support has also been transformed with direct contact reducing ticket numbers and resulting in faster resolution and less wasted lesson time.”

“It is simply not acceptable that students often have more means of effective communication between them than teachers – and with the help of Avaya we’ve moved way beyond these outdated systems. Above all, we believe that student safety and effective school operations shouldn’t be held back by a lack of investment – for us this is a priority,” Smeeton concluded.

Katie James, a parent of three boys who attend the Foundation’s Prep School, said, “We put our trust in school staff to protect our children, so it gives me great peace of mind to know that the Foundation is so thorough and forward looking when it comes to considering, implementing and thereby protecting the safety of the pupils. It’s also incredibly reassuring to know that their teachers no longer have to rely on outdated technology to communicate with each other and parents. I hope other schools across the country take note.”

Ioan MacRae, Managing Director, Avaya UK, said, “It’s a proud moment when you can say that you’ve helped the education world not only become more secure but operate much more effectively on a day-to-day basis. The Loughborough Schools Foundation is demonstrating the future of what innovative communications technology can achieve and this underlines the point that it is not only the traditional business world that can reap the benefits.”

David Wardell, Managing Director, Evoke Telecom, said, “We’re on the cusp of lockdown solutions becoming commonplace in schools, with Germany having mandated them and the UK consulting on school safety. The Loughborough Schools Foundation has recognised this need for additional security and together with Avaya we helped them implement a future-proofed communication system that could allow it to deliver on the additional safety requirements, while overcoming other communication challenges. What’s most exciting is that this really is just the beginning and the potential of Avaya smart campus solutions to integrate with different technologies means that the Loughborough Schools Foundation can scale and evolve its communication strategy long into the future.”

To date, there has been no requirement to use the lockdown features, although the Foundation has carried out a series of robust tests in multiple scenarios.