Edensor Technology College, a specialist secondary school based in Stoke-on-Trent, has cut its hardware and support costs by installing thin client terminals at students' homes. The initiative was funded using part of a £350,000 grant from Regional Development Agency Advantage West Midlands.
In the first phase of the project - which aims to put computers in 600 students' homes - 150 students have been given home terminals running Citrix Presentation Server.
The scheme, designed by enterprise IT consultancy Novus, allows students to access school applications and hand in homework online. When a teacher is absent, lessons can also be delivered via a SharePoint-based Virtual Learning Environment (VLE).
"We did not want the children to be bound by the school day, but not everyone has access to a PC at home," said Richard Pickard, deputy head teacher at Edensor College. "Having secure access to the school network brings a wealth of opportunities for our pupils to learn."
"One of the things that sprung up from our research was that pupils often wished they had a replay button to repeat lesson content - the VLE allows them to do that," he added.
An advantage of the programme has been the reduction in support and hardware costs, with each computer only needing to be replaced every five years, in contrast to the three years required by the desktop PCs previously used by the college.
"All pupils need is a thin client device and broadband connection," said Stuart Brown, director at Novus. "Citrix provides applications for most of the students within the school. Extending this home access cost very little. So pupils benefit from the same desktop at home or at school."