South Craven is a large, mixed 11-19 comprehensive school, situated in Cross Hills, North Yorkshire between Skipton and Keighley. It is the largest school in the Craven District and has over 1,700 pupils, as well as 200 members of staff.
The school was opened on June 7, 1957 and cost just £120,000 to build at the time. It became a comprehensive in 1967 and the leaving age was raised to 16 in 1972. At the same time it established its own sixth form so students could stay on to take their A levels. As of 2011, South Craven School is a trust school, achieving foundation status in 2006.
In recent years, a new eTaSC Building was erected on the school’s premises at a cost of £1.5million to support Post-16 Vocational study, followed by a new a new facility, simply called “A1“, which serves as a base for learning support at the school. In 2011 a new covered sports facility was opened to provide improved all weather sports facilities at the school, while in 2012 a new building containing a hall and various classrooms was also completed.
The school’s board first thought of installing a Time and Attendance and Access Control system around 4 years ago, in late 2009. One of the decision makers for the project, Network Manager Peter Howarth, explained that the school needed to be able to account for staff as accurately as they did the pupils. In Mr. Howarth’s own words, the main objective for the system at South Craven School was “improving the attendance recording process. We wanted to be able to know if members of staff were on site or not at any given moment”.
After reviewing several time and attendance products available in the market, the school governors opted for the Tensor Smart Card Time & Attendance and Access Control system because it represented “very good value for money”.
The Tensor system comprises multiple IP Network based Access Controllers, designed to restrict access to specific rooms or areas, coupled with electromagnetic locks. Two clocking stations have also been installed within easily accessible locations, enabling members of staff to clock on and off site in a fast and easy manner – using their Smart Cards – as fast as they can walk!
The school uses the Tensor WinTA.NET Enterprise Edition which is our flagship Windows™ based School Time and Attendance product. This provides total control matching the schools rostering and working patterns, Access Control and System Security. It can even be linked at a later into “clip” based CCTV so that the school management has a real-time view of what is happening within the school.
The system gives good control over the internal / external electronic door locks and magnetic door releases with some of the Smart Card access points hidden out of sight, providing access even in the most adverse conditions.
Peter Howarth told the Tensor reporter that no major problems were encountered with the installation of either the software or the hardware. “There were only a few minor things and these were sorted out quickly and professionally by the Tensor engineers”.
Peter was trained in the use of the Tensor system at the South Craven premises. His comments regarding the quality of the training was “very good”. He believes that, as a result, “we’re using all of the features we require on a daily basis to their full potential.”
The school have used the Tensor help desk facility on a few occasions and their view regarding the quality of the customer support service was “The help desk support is fine”.
The school decided to further expand their Tensor system to include Access Control of staff car parks. Three off, 5-meter automatic barriers have been installed and are controlled by the same Tensor proximity Smart Cards as used by the main building. The automatic barriers have enable South Craven school an effortless “full control” over who is allowed access through any controlled point at any time of the day. “They work fine within the limits of what we were told they would be able to do”, was Mr. Howarth’s verdict.
The Tensor system’s reliability is what the Network Manager likes most. “The system does what it’s supposed to do and I’m happy with that” he told the Tensor reporter.
When asked what he thought about the speed and reliability of the Tensor Smart Cards, Mr. Howart replied “They’re fine, we had no problems with them”.
When asked for his opinion on the Tensor system’s ease of use, Peter Howarth said “the hardware part of it is simple to use and straightforward”. When asked about the software he said that it was generally good but that there was some room for improvement of the software’s usability. This is good and valuable feedback and Tensor will be contacting Mr Howarth so that we can consider including his suggestions in future releases.
The School’s Network Manager praised the Tensor operations department engineers: “We phoned Tensor for support and the Operations Department engineers came over the following day, I think. They fixed the functionality problem we experienced very fast and in a professional manner.”
Summing up South Craven School’s experience of Tensor, Peter Howarth concluded “It’s a good company that supplied a good system with efficient after-sales support.”