Projecting a bright and engaging educational environment

Dr Challoners High School For Girls

Projecting a bright and engaging educational environment

“We educate, we enrich, we enable.” That’s the motto of Dr Challoner’s High School for Girls – a school with a long history and a rich heritage.

Founded in Amersham, Buckinghamshire, in 1624, the original Dr Challoner’s Grammar School was for boys only. It started accepting girls in 1906 and by 1962 had grown so large that it split into two single-sex schools, with the girls’ school opening in brand new premises in Little Chalfont.

The school aims to provide a secure, stimulating and happy environment. It prides itself on its excellent GCSE and A-level results, but it also offers numerous extra-curricular activities, such as the opportunity to join clubs and societies and to take part in community projects.

A new start for the maths department

Having reviewed the market for interactive displays, Dr Challoner’s decided to install widescreen data projectors and interactive whiteboards. Epson was approached to advise on the best solution.

The first department to receive the new solution would be maths. Thomas Townsend, the school’s IT manager, came up with a list of 15 features he wanted in a data projector. These included ease of use, brightness and good design. It was important that the ultra short throw projectors would provide a good quality image, not the curved image produced by some manufacturers’ projectors. And, with Dr Challoner’s especially keen to ensure that the new projectors could work with the aspect ratio of its whiteboards, an Epson representative visited the school along with IAG, a partner of Epson. IAG is local to the school and specialises in deploying display and IT equipment in schools and colleges.

Thomas Townsend says: “The Epson and IAG team were brilliant – they gave me lots of time. It showed great customer focus for a big company like Epson to go through that detail with us. That was the start of our relationship with them and from there we haven’t looked back.”

A model partnership

When an old projector needs to be replaced, the school is able to work out its requirements using Epson’s online throw distance calculator. By entering parameters such as the measurements of the room and the required aspect ratio, the calculator indicates whether the room needs an ultra short throw wall mount or a ceiling mount projector. “Right from the outset we could be clear about what the projector was going to deliver. It’s a really valuable tool because it enables us to give the users a clear sense of what it’s going to look like,” says Townsend.

The quality of installation provided by IAG has been crucial. The firm has been willing to go the extra mile, including working with the school to put in ruggedised metal faceplates for rock-solid projector mounts. In one recent example, the school needed a new projector for its IT room, which had different requirements to the other classrooms: it wasn’t big enough to need an installation-type projector, but there was no wall on which an ultra short throw projector could be mounted. IAG came in and advised on the best projector for the room. 

Teaching just got easier

The Epson projectors have so far replaced 50 of the 54 units in the school and include the following models: EB-435W, EB-450W, EB-460, EB-480, EB-580 and EB-585W. The variance reflects the different size and shape of the classrooms. The projectors scored highest against the selection criteria defined by the school, especially around image brightness, quality and ease of use. And, where the old projectors frequently suffered from technical problems, the new Epson projectors are far superior. “The Epson projectors just work better with far fewer issues,” says Townsend.

Teachers are pleased with the projectors, which provide bright images with excellent clarity meaning there’s no longer any need to keep the blinds down. This all results from Epson’s own 3LCD technology and high Colour Light Output, meaning that the brightness of the colours matches the brightness of the white light, unlike some other projector technologies. They’re also very user-friendly with a highly intuitive interface that encourages annotation and collaboration in lessons: “Teachers have got 30 seconds to get the kit up and running – anything longer than that and they’ll just change their plan and not use it. So it’s important not just that they work all the time, but they’re also really simple to use,” says Townsend.

Changing the input source, for example, is easy because the remote controls for the different projectors all work the same way. And, the consistency of design has proved a big plus in a school where every room is different. “What Epson has done is standardise the features across the fleet so if we put an ultra short throw in one room and a short throw in another on a ceiling mount, they might look slightly different but the functionality is the same.”

The projectors are backed by a three-year warranty, with any faulty devices immediately swapped out. In addition, replacement lamps are covered too, so the school has complete visibility over the cost of its devices with no surprises.

Epson’s personal touch

Townsend says that Epson provides the best customer service he’s seen from a vendor: “What Epson do differently from a lot of companies is offer a personal relationship. It’s about having the knowledge that they are serious about stuff that they sell because there are so many other manufacturers who don’t do that. It’s refreshing that we feel we can talk to Epson if we need to at any point – and really helpful to know that we’re valued by them no matter what size we are.”