Why is getting locked out of the network due to a password error still such a pain in most schools?

worried man

Getting locked out of the network is really painful in most schools for teachers, students and the IT Staff. The odd thing is that it has been happening for decades and it continues to happen day in day out. Why is this? How come we can have self-driving cars but I can’t get my student back into the network when they forget a password.

Right now, in most schools there are three options when locked out of the network:

What it looks like in 2017

options when locked out of network

“Sir - I’ve forgotten my password and I can’t get on the network”


“Yes….again. You see I wrote them all down in my planner, but then lost my planner”


“So you see my problem. I can’t get on the network. I can’t log into my device, or my Office 365 account or any of my apps. I need all my passwords reset. Can you do it? Can I do it myself?”

“Of course not. You need to go and see the IT technician.”

To the moon and back!


Let’s have some fun with some numbers. I’ve taken the number of UK schools and pupils, then estimated the cost (time and distance) of getting a network password changed. This cost doesn’t include classroom disruption, teacher mental health or network manager irritation.

Base data:

  • 8,500,000 students in uk / 25,000 schools 1
  • 1% forget their password each day 2
  • 85,000 journeys to IT tech room - 100m round trip / 15 minutes 3
    UK School
Hours Day 21,250 0.85
Year 4,037,500 161.5 (4wks)
KM Day 8,500 0.34
Year 16,150,000 64.6

Earth distance from Moon - 384,400 km!!

Wow! - and this is from 1% of students forgetting passwords each day. In my experience of over 20 years of teaching this would seem to be extremely generous.

1Rounded up from DfE data (2012)

2A pretty rough estimate from anecdotal support reports from RM

3A standard walk, in a standard UK school (!), from a standard IT room (!) to a standard IT Tech support office (!) =

Moonshot thinking

thinking man

How about we take these numbers and move them to zero - yes zero.

unify graph

RM Unify and network provisioning - let’s put an end to password re-set nonsense.

people jumping

For a while now RM Unify has equipped staff with the ability to reset student passwords. This has been fine for the cloudy world, but does little to help anyone trying to get onto the network until now. With RM Unify release 3.30 Network Provisioning becomes generally available, and with it 2-way password sync.

With RM Unify AD Sync a password change on the network would be passed up to RM Unify, but not the other way around. So, a teacher changing the RM Unify password would put it out of sync with the network password. This could only be rectified with network password change. Not an ideal situation.

With RM Unify Network Provisioning we can now make changes in RM Unify which are reflected in the AD within a couple of minutes. Every action is logged and audited in the RM Unify management console to keep track of things. This changes things.

“Sir - I’ve forgotten my password and I can’t get on the network”

“Let me reset it for you. This will get you onto the network and into everything you need.”

How about self-serve password reset?

rm unify password reset

Now there is a step further than this - self service password resets. There is the option to get students to reset their own passwords providing they can get online. So, from a mobile phone, the student just need to find their way to RM Unify and hit the lost password button and complete the reset actions. That’s it! Everything back up and running - including access to the network.

how to - rm unify

To find out more about RM Unify visit www.rm.com/rmunify

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