The National Extension College

I came to NEC to a major challenge of transforming our systems and dealing with an ageing infrastructure. Boldfield have helped us to reduce the risk involved so that I feel more confident in achieving our plans and I’m free to think in an expansive way.

The Company

Established in 1963 as a not-for-profit educational charity and with a strong, proud heritage in enabling students to ‘learn at a distance’, the National Extension College (NEC) is recognised as a specialist in online learning. Over the past 57 years, NEC has forged a reputation for quality and innovation.

Our aim is to transform lives and open up new possibilities for people of all ages by offering access to those essential school qualifications like GCSEs and A levels, as well as vocational qualifications in management, business, childcare and teaching. These courses can be studied flexibly, any time and anywhere, and offer each student an exceptional level of support to achieve their future ambitions.

Now more than ever, IT is at the heart of NEC. Vital to ensuring an administrative infrastructure and learning platform that provides students with the best quality environment for online learning. This includes accessing course material at any time and anywhere in the world, submitting assignments, connecting with tutors and fellow students via webinars and forums, and receiving advice from our support team. Technology plays a major role in helping us help students achieve their goals.

“I would never have attended Cambridge and Edinburgh without the additional grades from my NEC A levels. The support I got from my tutors there remains unsurpassed. In many ways, my A levels form the foundation of my academic career, which will hopefully continue to PhD and beyond, and for that I am exceedingly grateful.”

Miranda (NEC Alumni)

The Case Study

Boldfield Computing supports NEC’s infrastructure and has provided practical help and expertise in our transition from ageing on-premises hardware to a cloud infrastructure using Amazon Web Services.

“My role as Head of Technology is to keep the College’s IT systems and infrastructure operating smoothly whilst introducing new applications to support our students and tutors. We made the decision in 2015 to transition to cloud-based solutions but needed to maintain business continuity in the process.

Before I arrived in post, Boldfield Computing were doing an excellent job supporting a complex network with around 20 in-house servers. Boldfield’s support was critical to helping NEC rationalise as we started our migration to cloud services. We had a number of business-critical systems on old servers that could not easily be replaced and had to be relocated to our new building without disruption – or worse – a lot was at stake.   The support Boldfield provided in rationalising the infrastructure and then, very carefully, relocating to the new office was invaluable. A safe pair of hands both metaphorically and literally!

The hardware rationalisation and move was a positive experience – it has gone much better than expected. I’ve been through many systems changes in other companies and Boldfield’s services compare very favourably with ones I’ve experienced before. The Boldfield team is dedicated, they won’t leave until the job is done.

It feels like a partnership – they understand our strategy, they are not just service providers. As we migrated to Amazon Web Services Boldfield stayed and learned with us, as we reduced physical hardware Boldfield took on supporting our virtual servers.  They are very open and I like that. It means I know where we stand and we can tackle issues together. They are also very flexible commercially, NEC is a charity and we have to get the best value from every pound we spend, Boldfield are sensitive to that and have made financial arrangements that suit both parties.

I came to NEC to a major challenge of transforming our systems and dealing with an ageing infrastructure. Boldfield has helped us to reduce the risk involved and transform to an infrastructure that we are now using to build new services rather than continually firefighting issues. NEC is now providing students and tutors with a more modern and compelling learning experience and we are continuing to develop and innovate on that sound platform. Our change process is ongoing and I still have the Boldfield safety net. They are a very responsible and skilled group of people.”

Paul Cooper

Head of Technology

Download Case Study

Download our The National Extension College case study: