East Wickham Primary Academy is a 3-form entry school based in Welling, Kent, and is a member of The Kemnal Academies Trust (TKAT). TKAT is one of the largest Multi-Academy Trusts in the South of England with over 50 Primary and Secondary Academies in the TKAT family.
Our legacy set-up
Our journey with Premier started around 3 years ago. We wanted to get a new telephone system – I initially started to look at the options we had, we were in desperate need of a new system as our old Samsung system had been in for about 12 years. It was very old, didn’t have all the features that we needed. I was looking around and found Premier Choice as one of the options, they came up to us about 2 years ago for a first demonstration, after which the project got dropped off for other things. About a year ago we picked it back up, and Premier Choice were the first company I went back to as they were the ones who gave a positive response in the first instance, and that’s how it all started.
We were facing various challenges with our old telephone system – phone calls kept getting dropped, we didn’t have enough lines coming in and out, we had a maximum of about 2-3 simultaneous phone calls and that was a very big issue for us. When it got to a very busy time, we noticed parents complaining that they couldn’t get through to the school as our lines were always busy – so that was one of the biggest challenges we had to address. There was also no use for voicemail on the old system, it was clunky, old and on it’s way out, so we had to get something that was new and to give us the features that we needed.
Meeting our needs
Premier put in a completely new telephone system, which includes an in-house system as well as the handsets, exactly the same system we had before but now with Panasonic. I did have a look at Hosted, and Premier Choice did give me the option of going Hosted, but based on our set-up here, we decided to go for an in-house system.
From a technical point of view, I knew our telephone system was old and on it’s way out – we had no cover for it at all, there was no support, all I was doing was basic programming on it and I knew at some point it was basically going to fail and then we would have nothing. The fact that Premier Choice have been able to come in, assess what we needed and provide a system that meets our needs, it’s been a relief off of my shoulders and knowing that Premier Choice are there for support when I need them is great from a technical point of view. From a schools point of view, it’s meant that we’ve been able to have a more reliable system, it’s a lot more professional, there’s auto-attendant, access to voicemail, more simultaneous calls, and the quality of the lines are better.
Working with Premier Choice
Schools and businesses are under a lot of pressure at the moment, and I’d been putting off the upgrade of telephone systems for quite a while because of everything else coming in, it wasn’t really at the forefront. One of the great things about Premier Choice was that despite a late order for the system to go in over the summer holidays, they were able to turn it around quickly, and were able to get engineers to site to do a site survey and I was very pleased with the engineers who came out. They were fantastic, explained everything to me, gave me some basic training of the system – my confidence in Premier Choice is high and I would recommend them.
The benefit for us as well is that they’re local, no more than ten minutes down the road, and one of the directors, Neil, is an ex-pupil here! It was nice to know that an ex-pupil has come here, and was able to look after us.
David Runnals, East Wickham Primary Academy