A Cogenhoe-based IT company has launched a business aimed primarily at supporting schools. Plan IT, an IT reseller that was founded in 2008, has launched Plan AV, a sister company that specialises in audio visual whiteboards for the education sector. The company, which was only incorporated in February, is the brainchild of Plan IT Sales Manager Darren Herring. He realised a gap in the market after attending a parents evening at his daughter’s school and spotting an interactive whiteboard on the wall. “When I asked about the board, I was told that it wasn’t being used,” reveals Darren. “The main reason for this was due to a lack of staff training and the teachers simply not knowing how to use it.” At Plan IT, around 70% of the company’s business is with schools, so Darren saw a potential business opportunity he knew would work and that would also ensure the local schools that invested money in new technology would get the most out of it. Plan AV was launched – with Darren as Sales Director - to source audio visual equipment, such as interactive whiteboards, for schools and then offer training as part of the installation. Telephone support is also offered after installation.
“If you imagine that each white board costs around £3,000 and a school gets ten of those, you are talking about a £30,000 investment and staff just aren’t using them,” says Darren. “We show the teachers just what they are capable of doing and they buy into it and they use it. “Whiteboards make the teaching experience so much better and it’s much more engaging for the students who then go home and tell their families and it shows the school in a positive light.”
Plan AV has joined forces with Promethean, a global leader in interactive displays and lesson delivery software for education. This means that the whiteboards it supplies to schools have software installed in them that contains thousands of lesson ideas and teaching content. They can also be connected to other devices, such as iPads, so work on a student’s iPad can be shown on the whiteboard at the front of the class. Teachers can also lesson plan on a laptop in the evening at home and then link it to the whiteboard, so the content is there for them in the morning.
“It is amazing what they can do and how much they can add to the whole learning experience,” says Darren. “For example, if the class was learning about Henry VIII, you could search for it on the whiteboard and lots of readily available lesson content would come up instantly. They are also touch screen as well, which goes down really well with schoolchildren as it is more interactive.”
Plan AV offers nationwide coverage and has access to a network of 20 engineers who can install the whiteboards and offer training anywhere in the UK. Training is typically two full days, followed by a telephone support service, although this is flexible as Plan AV realises that every school is different. Sizes of whiteboard range from 65 inch to 85 inch and schools can save money by buying in volume. Schools can also try before they buy, alleviating some of the risk of purchase.
“We can offer a free on-site demo or leave a board for two weeks with the school for them to get an idea of how it would be used within the classroom before they actually purchase it,” says Darren. “This gives them the confidence in what can sometimes be a big, but worthwhile investment. Our training is also flexible and can be done after hours and in school holidays if required.
“We have always offered audio visual (AV) products through Plan IT but this was something quite niche and specific and we wanted to keep it separate as it would allow us to be a specialist in this area. Now we are looking to work with schools in Northamptonshire and the surrounding areas to see how we can help them to upgrade.”
To arrange a free on-site demo or find out more information, contact Darren Herring on 01604 714744 or email@example.com.