The school is spread across two campuses – years 7-9 are in a new building at the aptly named Bayview Street campus. The senior years are in the original school building, which dates from 1867 and which became Williamstown High School in 1914.
Williamstown sits on a promontory into Port Philip Bay, at the mouth of the Yarra River, giving it spectacular views across the water to the City of Melbourne. Williamstown High School is one of the oldest government schools in Victoria, having celebrated its centenary in 2014. This is constructed on strongly environmental principles, with open architecture, a series of ponds providing recycled water for the grounds, and solar panels for power.
“Our aim”, says Gino Catalano, Principal of Williamstown High School, “is to provide excellence in all areas, and offer a range of pathways. We want to provide the right environment to achieve the best educational experiences for all students. The theatre is a practical example of how we cater for diversity to deliver that experience.”
The school used the centenary celebrations to raise funds to build the Centenary Theatre, a 304-seat facility that serves not only the school, but the whole community, and recognises the school’s strong performance in the arts over many years.
When it comes to technology services, the philosophy is just the same – Gino wants to ensure that pupils, teachers and administrative staff have access to the best possible equipment and services. For a school, print, copy and scan technology is absolutely essential and must be reliable, easily accessible and fit the school’s budget.
The school was not happy with the high maintenance costs associated with the its previous provider, so it issued a tender, created a shortlist and asked three companies to put in a detailed submission. “Service and reliability was a big factor in our appraisal”, says Gino. “I had staff telling me that the old machines were impacting on what they could do with students. Our teachers are very committed, and some were really emotional about the effect that this was having on their classes.”
The school was impressed by the managed service proposal put forward by Toshiba’s Rob Colonnello. It included machines in all staff rooms, and inside or close to the classrooms, with quality colour printers for VCE Art students’ folios. It offers printing, copying and scanning to the school’s cloud storage system.
“Toshiba offered a great solution at a very competitive price”, explains Gino. “We were so keen to get going with the new technology that we terminated the previous contract early and Toshiba put in some temporary machines to get us up to speed faster.”
The difference to the school has been immense. “With the scanning capabilities we now have in place, we will be able to access documents for the next 99 years”, explains Gino. “We have extensive archiving stored all over the place, hard and softcopy, so that guarantee was really important. We had previously had to purchase storage rooms just for documents, so we’re now working through the regulations to understand what we can scan and store electronically to dramatically cut down that physical storage.”
“Our teachers had filing cabinets with material they have built up over the years”, he goes on. “We had one staff member who had been a maths teacher with us for 45 years. When he retired he realised he had a mountain of resources, and he wanted to share them with the younger maths teachers. Once the Toshiba system was in place, he spent every spare moment of his final term scanning all his documents – it is wonderful to know that all that intellectual property will not be lost, but can be used by other teachers in the future.”
It’s not only the teachers who are benefitting from the new system – students are uploading their own CVs and portfolios, secure in the knowledge that they can access their content even after they leave the school.
Gino has been impressed with the way that Toshiba has engaged with the school. “Their attitude is that they’re in this for the long haul and they want to ensure we’re happy”, he says. “Rob’s people skills make him an excellent account manager and we appreciate the honesty, reliability and prompt service we get from everyone we deal with at Toshiba.”
The ultimate proof of success is the reaction of staff. “I have had staff go out of their way to come and tell me how happy they are with the new print, copy and scan facilities”, concludes Gino. “That to me says the project has been an unqualified success.”