A LEADING Newcastle technology firm is forecasting strong growth in 2017 in an education sector that will continue to evolve despite almost relentless pressure.

Calibre Secured Networks Ltd’s directors Karen and Steve Nelson are eyeing strong sales in the education sector, where schools will continue to migrate to the benefits of cloud-based e-Learning technologies powered by enterprise-grade networks.

The firm, which currently employs 10 people, is on target for £1m turnover next year on the back of an expanding client base, new contract wins and an investment strategy.

Nationally, schools spend almost £1bn a year on education technology – a proportion of which will be spent in the region says Calibre as planned upgrades and improvement programmes come on stream in the New Year.

North East investment in IT is expected to hold steady over the next 12 months in the face of the continued rise of e-Learning technologies, which free up space and resources, and schools continue to migrate to cloud-based services.

Technical expertise and the provision of remote networking support at Sunderland’s Castle View Enterprise Academy and work on a new virtualised network at Darlington’s West Park School are among the contract wins driving growth.

The firm has also secured new work to provide network audit services and security assessment of the existing network as well as an upgrade support package at Framwellgate School Durham.

Elsewhere, in the private sector, a partnership with Newcastle School for Boys continues to ‘blossom’ on the back a new enterprise grade network to secure the existing and future e- Learning requirements of pupils, teachers and support staff.

Work in the last 12 months on phase II has involved the relocation of the school’s internet services with Calibre providing network support in a move that’s seen network software upgrade in advance of the relocation of internet services in January.

Managing director Karen Nelson said: “We will continue to see schools investing to ensure that they are wired for learning success through the latest Bring You Own Devices (BYOD) and interactive technologies.”

She adds that if there’s anything certain in 2017, it will be the continuing, almost remorseless, march of eLearning.

“Forward thinking schools will up the pace at which they integrate dynamic new technologies to allow students to interact with digital curriculum resources instead of the traditional PC keyboard or mouse.”

However the challenge next year and beyond will continue to be for schools to up-skill their IT staff to keep up with the new technologies.

“The skills’ gap is a massive problem and education leaders and managers need to train IT technicians as well as their teachers to deal with increasingly complex IT estates.

“And this of course opens up opportunities for firms like us who can support the sector with added value solutions built around genuine sector experience and competency.”

Karen Nelson predicts exciting times ahead thanks to the white heat of technology driving the interactive learning experience:

“This together with schools’ investing to ensure staff and students benefit from accessible and engaging tools can only deliver quicker, smarter and safer learning over the next 12 months.”

Calibre provides IT services and solutions that enable schools to maximise their return on investment through the deployment of technology to meet their business challenges. More at www.calibre-secured.net