Finding the best VoIP phone system for your school: everything you need to know

VoIP phone systems are the perfect solution for busy schools handling hundreds of calls a day! VoIP phones make life easier for school staff and keep phone costs low. They’re also much safer for pupils and teachers than traditional landlines.

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Our experience working with schools

At T2K, we have many years of experience setting up VoIP services for all kinds of schools, academies and colleges, and we’ve seen first-hand the difference that VoIP can make. This guide will explain why so many educational settings are switching to VoIP phone systems. We’ll showcase the features of VoIP which — in our experience — work best for schools and give you pointers on how to pick the best VoIP setup for your school.

A T2k representative making an agreement with a university on a new VoIP phone system.

Why UK schools are switching to VoIP phone systems

Nowadays, VoIP lines offer higher quality audio, at better prices, and with more features, than a traditional phone line. We speak to hundreds of UK schools weekly, and we typically hear three main reasons for switching to VoIP phones.

Firstly, traditional phone systems will stop working soon (see BT’s digital upgrade plans: ISDN switch-off in 2025). VoIP will quickly become the only type of phone service available to schools, so it pays to get ahead of this change as soon as possible. 

We also see increased pressure on school budgets. By switching to VoIP, many schools have found that they can deliver a richer telephony system to staff and stakeholders more straightforwardly and at a much lower cost. 

Safeguarding and security are essential in a school environment, but so is the ability to communicate quickly and get callers through to the correct department. What’s more, VoIP fits perfectly with how a school phone system needs to work. Even small schools handle hundreds of calls a day.

A branded T2k dividing line.

7 features of VoIP that work well for schools

VoIP is especially useful in an educational setting. Here are the main reasons why it’s such a good fit for schools:

1: Phone lines don’t get clogged up

Thanks to SIP trunk technology, VoIP can handle incredibly high call volumes. School switchboards tend to be busiest first thing in the morning (when parents call to report sickness or absence), but call volumes can also spike in the run-up to school concerts and parent-teacher evenings.

With VoIP, your phone system can handle as many concurrent calls as you need. 

2: Auto-attendants: virtual switchboards that save you time

An auto-attendants works like a virtual receptionist for your school. Using an auto-attendant, you can invite callers to “Press 1 for reception”, “Press 2 to report sickness or absence”, “Press 3 to book tickets to the school play”, and so on. Callers effectively route their own calls to the correct department without human intervention, saving your school administrators a lot of time. 

3: VoIP calling is safer for students and teachers

School VoIP phone systems can offer higher degrees of privacy and accountability, thanks to calling masking and call recording technology.

Call masking keeps personal mobile numbers private. If a teacher needs to call a student’s parents on a school trip, they can use their VoIP app to make the call. The caller ID shows the call coming from the school, and the teacher doesn’t have to reveal their personal mobile number. The same goes for students: pupils can conduct telephone surveys for class projects using your school’s phone number. 

Call recording allows your school to record phone calls for future reference. You could, for instance, set up an anonymous safeguarding hotline that automatically sends transcripts of every call to the board of trustees, or you could set up an allergy number to report student allergies to your catering department in a safe and controlled manner. Call recording can improve safeguarding, but it can also help clear up misunderstandings with parents: you have a log of every conversation to refer back to. 

4: COVID-ready: Switch to remote learning in minutes

With VoIP, you can make or take calls on any internet-connected device. If your school is forced to close at short notice, teachers can still lead classes, tutorials and parent meetings from home. VoIP also makes it easy for staff members who spend a lot of time roaming the halls: PE teachers, catering managers, and school heads can take calls from anywhere in the school. 

5: Advanced voicemail settings for busy teachers

VoIP voicemail settings are ideal for teachers with complex class schedules. With a VoIP account, each staff member can set their phone to go straight to voicemail, divert to a colleague or ring out. Calls received during teaching periods, school holidays, and INSET days can be set to go directly to voicemail ahead of time. With voicemail to email, essential messages never get missed or forgotten. 

You can also schedule call routing. If a teacher is unavailable at a particular time of day, but they don’t want a caller to go straight to voicemail, they can set their phone so that calls get redirected to a colleague. 

6: Internal communications tools for team chats and meetings

Most school VoIP systems have built-in tools to let staff talk to one another. This is especially helpful if your school operates from multiple campuses or if you belong to a multi-academy trust. 

You can use internal instant messaging to chat informally with colleagues, set up a conference call and invite people to join you or just make internal calls free of charge

7: Easy-to-send announcements and emergency broadcasts 

Sometimes, management needs to send a message to parents, staff and teachers as quickly as possible. VoIP’s emergency broadcast tools let you get the word out to parents and staff members in seconds. If there is a school emergency (bad weather, COVID restrictions etc.), you can use VoIP to call everyone on your list and play a recorded message. VoIP systems can even call every single handset in every single classroom at the same time.

Many of our school customers will use custom hold music for less urgent matters. Parents can learn everything from upcoming open days to uniform policy changes while waiting to speak to someone.

A branded T2k dividing line.

Best VoIP for schools in the UK

We have spent a lot of time talking to schools about what they need, and we know from experience which VoIP services work best in an educational setting.

When it comes to the best VoIP phone systems for schools, we’re endorsing just two VoIP phone solutions at the moment. We’ll also include a competitor, just for the sake of balance:

3CX: best for schools with an IT department

3CX is a highly flexible and cost-effective phone system for schools that need more than 20 connections. Whether you need video conferencing, an intercom system or voicemail to email functionality, 3CX can handle everything.

3CX can integrate with Microsoft Teams and custom SQL databases, and your VoIP servers can be hosted on-site or in the cloud. It also works with any IP-enabled handset.

You get unlimited extensions with 3CX, but it’s only suitable for schools with a large IT department.

Gamma Horizon: a simple, reliable ‘ hands-off’ solution

If your IT department is overworked, you might not want to host your own VoIP system in-house. Fully-cloud-based Gamma Horizon offers almost as many features to the end-user of their phone lines as 3CX but with less IT involvement.

Gamma Horizon also lets you group individuals into departments. You can group numbers by school, subject and seniority, making it much easier to set up group chats and send out announcements.

B Online: a business VoIP service that could suit your school

B Online is an award-winning VoIP provider focusing primarily on the growing business market. They have an excellent customer service reputation and offer a brilliant reporting dashboard. They also provide great broadband and phone packages.

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How to get the right phone system for your school

Picking a school VoIP system couldn’t be easier: you need to request a comparison quote from T2K! Start the comparison process online or call us on 01202 85411. We’ll ask you about your school’s telephony needs and provide an independent recommendation. We’ll get the ball rolling today.

A teacher using a VoIP phone.
Lee Clarke
Sales Director

Having worked for T2k for nearly 25 years, it's fair to say that Lee is an expert when it comes to all things telephony and business communications. Overseeing the commercial side of the business, he has helped the company evolve and grow through the decades. In recent years, and with the advent of VoIP and hosted telephony, Lee has made sure that T2k is at the forefront of technological developments. With a firm interest in helping businesses navigate the world of telecoms, Lee is responsible for the majority of the content on this website.

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