as said you can do the WSUS through group policy, though this rather depends on the people being on the domain to set group policy for the laptops.
are your laptops going to be running XP, vista or windows 7.
if they are running windows 7 you can use the branch cache mode rather than WSUS,
I'll explain this technology a bit.
Basically it's a 8 step proceedure.
1, PC one goes to download a file, it requests the file (update1) from a file server. rather than sending the file the server sends a file ID.
2, PC one recieves the file ID and send out a broadcast message, (Has anyone got file ID 0001?). -since this is the first time the file is requested all PCs will say no.
3, PC one requests file ID 001 from the server, and is then sent the corresponding file.
4, PC two now wants the same file (update1) and so goes off the the file server and says can I have file: update1, the file server responds, update 1 is file ID 001
5, pc two now broadcasts to the network, (has anyone got file ID 001)
6, pc one responds (Yes, I have file ID 001).
7, PC two says, "cool, can I have it then"
8, pc one sends the file to PC two.
In this way your internet link is spared and the update, (which could be any size) is just dealt with internally by the clients which negotiate with themselves.
this works with SMB, HTTP and BITS (bits is what windows update uses).
of course, if you have a lot of clients then you probably won't want a ton of broadcast traffic clogging up your network, so there is also a branch cache hosted server available where the files and updates etc that are downloaded to clients are also copied to a main cache server on the local network, and then the clients just ask this server rather than asking each other.
it also works with partially downloaded things as well when bits of files are downloaded to one client other clients can request the file and other machines will send the bits as and when it downloads them, (kind of like a bit torrent sort of client for files).
One thing though, this is only available in windows 7, and if you go for the hosted cache server it has to be windows 2008 R2.
The reason that I say this is that I believe that branch cache mode does not have to be enabled with the use of PCs that are members of a domain, they can be standalone workstations or laptops whic is what you have.
as for the second part,
unfortunately I don't have the time to write the script for you, so I'll just write an explanation of the logic needed. and give a few pointers.
Then students will just need to click a file, (or you can have this file automatically run by putting it in the startup folder, or adding a link to it in the hklm\software\microsoft\windows\run key in the registry...).
anyway, the script needs to.
detect if the drive already exists: (cause there is no point in mapping it if it already exists).
if the drive does exist then the script should just exit (wscript.quit)
if the drive does not exist you'll need to...
detect the username
strComputer = "."
Set wshNetwork = CreateObject("WScript.Network")
strUser = wshNetwork.Username
you then need to slice the string up to get the initial letter of the string to decide what file server to use.
then you'll be left with a statement like
if initial letter is between a and k then
map drive \\server1\Username
map drive \\server2\username
if I were you I'd try to persuade the powers that be that you need to use AD for these laptops, it'll make them much easier to administer. all the setting that you've asked about can be set using group policy.
you can set the home drives to be mapped using the user manager in AD.
you can set up wsus properly using GPO.
you can enforce password policies
you can redirect my documents and the desktop etc to the users home drive so that the users can save onto their desktop and have the files reappear the next time they log on (to a different laptop).
with AD you can use GPO to push software out to the PCs using MSI files etc...
basically if I were you I'd push as hard as you can to actually get the laptops properly onto a domain, (even if you end up having to create a child domain for students, getting the laptops onto the domain would make your life a whole load easier.