Requirement of a UPS System: Does your School or College Comply with the Network Switching Standards?

Power Control
15 Feb 2024

The Department for Education (DfE) introduced the 'Network Switching Standards' in March 2022, and updated them in October 2022. These standards aim to assist schools and colleges in ensuring their networks can effectively support modern devices. As per the technical requirements outlined in the standards, educational institutions are mandated to equip their network switches with '2 power supplies', one of which must be a minimum of one UPS system (uninterruptible power supply).

A network switch serves as the cornerstone of a school's technological infrastructure by interconnecting all devices such as computers, printers, and wireless access points. They can also provide Power over Ethernet (PoE) powering devices such as CCTV cameras, wireless access points and IP phones.

Any malfunction in the switches or their power supply, can disrupt internet access throughout the premises, significantly impacting teaching and learning activities. It's also crucial for switches to be appropriately sized to manage the volume of data flowing through the network and configured to meet the specific needs of the facility.

The DfE Network Switching Standards encompass four key sections pertaining to switch performance, management, security, and resilience. Notably, the fourth standard emphasises the necessity for core network switches to be linked to at least one UPS to mitigate the impact of outages. Additionally, the standards mandate that network switches should offer fast, reliable, and secure connections to all users, both wired and wireless, and feature security measures to safeguard users and data against unauthorised access.

In the event of a mains power failure or brownout, a UPS provides instantaneous backup power to the switches, ensuring uninterrupted teaching and learning activities. Moreover, it offers protection against power surges, eliminating concerns about data loss due to power anomalies.

Regarding compliance with the DfE Network Switching Standards, the Department acknowledges the challenges associated with upgrading entire school networks at once. Therefore, instead of imposing a strict deadline, they advise schools and colleges to meet the standards during upgrades to underperforming or unsupported solutions. IT staff are encouraged to monitor the status of the school's network equipment regularly and conduct scheduled maintenance visits to identify the need for network upgrades.


Recommended UPS for School and College Network Switches

Drawing on 30 years of experience, Power Control would recommend a rackmountable UPS system as the most suitable and cost effective solution for backing up switches. These seamlessly integrate into network racks, with the size and number of UPS units required depending on the overall power requirements of the network equipment, typically ranging between 1000VA and 10kVA.

For more information about how to ensure your school, college, university or other educational facility complies with the Department for Education Network Switching Standards, call one of our knowledgeable team members – 01246 431 431 or email