Hounslow’s Creative and Media consortium was formed to provide a high quality learning experience that maximises the achievement of students undertaking the creative and media diploma, one of the new specialised diploma qualifications for 14-19 year olds that were launched in 2008. The consortium includes Lampton School, Heston Community School, Cranford Community School, Brentford School for Girls, Brentford City Learning Centre and West Thames College.

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The Challenge

To effectively deliver this diploma, Hounslow had secured partial funding from the DCSF for a tailor-made, high quality and imaginative facility in the form of an outdoor broadcast vehicle.  This would be equipped with a comprehensive range of high-end, industry standard equipment that would supplement existing facilities and enable a different style of education to be delivered, one that has been developed in conjunction with employers as a form of apprenticeship to better equip young people with the skills required to further their careers in the media world.

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One of the key requirements for this innovative learning facility would be the ability to stream ‘live’ video images for viewing over the internet.  The only way to reliably achieve this would be by equipping the unit with satellite technology enabling access to high speed broadband wherever the vehicle is located.

According to John Hurley, Operations Manager for the Hounslow Creative and Media consortium: “Excelerate Technology has provided us with a resilient and reliable satellite solution that will enhance the capabilities of this unique outside broadcast vehicle.  The company’s ability to understand what we were trying to achieve was very impressive and provided us with high levels of confidence that our objectives for this vehicle would be realised.” 

The consortium asked Excelerate Technology to supply and install a transportable satellite solution after seeing how the company had equipped some of the UK’s most advanced mobile incident command units for the emergency services.  Excelerate could also demonstrate a track record of successful deployments in the public sector for organisations such as Powys County Council, Carmarthenshire County Council and Northern Ireland Library Service.

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It was also significant that Excelerate Technology operates and manages its own satellite and private GSM network and holds all VSAT Network Licenses required by Ofcom ensuring that the most appropriate equipment operating over approved frequencies would be installed.  Excelerate Technology delivers high quality bandwidth, which can be tailored in real time to suit specific client needs, budgets and service level requirements, which would ensure the uninterrupted transmission of broadcast quality images wherever the unit is operating.

Excelerate Technology supplied and installed a roof-mounted 1.2m transportable satellite solution that can be operational within four minutes of parking the vehicle.  The unit also features a fully operational professional TV and radio broadcast studio and digital editing suite as well as a comprehensive range of industry-standard broadcast equipment including high definition cameras, Apple iMac and MacBook computers and wireless networking.  The satellite solution provides access to high speed broadband enabling video images to be streamed in real-time to a secure server where they can be viewed live on internet-enabled computers, PDAs and mobile phones.  It also provides access to email, video conferencing and instant messaging.

The new unit provides learning experiences for up to twenty students at a time in a wide range of environments.  It can travel between schools and colleges eliminating the numerous problems that would otherwise have occurred trying to ferry staff and students between different sites.  To support this ground-breaking initiative, staff from across the participating schools, colleges and city learning centres have completed LGV driving courses.

The consortium expects the outside broadcast vehicle to be used for a wide range of cross disciplinary projects involving film, dance, theatre, music and sport.  It can even be taken to events where students can experience the real-life pressures of operating in external locations that closely mirror the situations in which they may be working after gaining their diplomas

“This outside broadcast vehicle will not only help increase the learning opportunities for students involved in the Creative and Media diploma, but will also become a shared resource for other collaborative projects within the borough, and ultimately further afield, It has the power to engage the imagination and unleash creativity whilst fostering a team spirit to work on real projects that relate to work situations both locally and further afield.” John Hurley, Operations manager, Lampton School.