Advice for purchasing a laptop

If you’re thinking about buying a laptop for your son or daughter in support of their academic work, then we have some advice from our IT Department about what’s suitable for use at School.

Firstly it’s important to say that we do not currently require pupils to have a personal device of any sort for school work as there are PCs available to all departments and in each house – don’t let them persuade you otherwise! However, many pupils prefer to use their own device so that they can work more independently and we are supporting this with WiFi in the boarding houses and by uploading content, such as Christmas revision, onto the VLE. The School also intends to provide pupils with individual iPads for use in lessons and prep starting in the Michaelmas term 2017 so we are advising laptops as the most suitable personal device for School work.

It is difficult for the IT Department to make specific recommendations about which device to purchase as it’s such a personal choice and will depend on many different factors, so instead we are developing a ‘minimum specification’ for devices which will guarantee your son or daughter can make the best use of technology to help with their studies.

The good news is that most new entry-level machines, whether that be PC or Mac, are more than up to the job for regular School work. As a guide something with an i3 processor, 4-8GB of RAM, 500Mb-1Tb Hard drive and a 15.6” screen will be more than sufficient. However, if your son or daughter wishes to use their own device for more intensive work such as graphic design or music and video production, then a faster processor (i5-i7), increased RAM (8-16GB), faster hard drive (consider a large SSD) and wider screen (15-17”) are advisable although this is well above what is required for general use.

Laptops should also have standard office software capable of reading and saving English language Microsoft Office 2010 files and a modern web browser such as IE10, Firefox, Chrome or Safari to be able to access the VLE. To be compatible with the School network, laptops need to have up-to-date antivirus software and 802.1x WiFi capability (most do). Pupils will also be required to agree to the School’s Acceptable Use Policy which is based on principles of appropriate usage and with specific regard to time and place.

Our final piece of advice to parents is to purchase a good warranty (3-5 years) in case of faults or accidental damage as the School is unable to directly support personal devices – and don’t forget a strong case that can be labelled too!