Getting the best value from Microsoft 365 for Education with Jonathan Bishop from The Cornerstone Academy Trust

In this podcast episode, we speak with Jonathan Bishop, the CEO and Executive Headteacher of The Cornerstone Academy Trust (TCAT), about getting the best value from Microsoft 365 for Education.

TCAT is based in the southeast of England and comprises four primary schools. Their motto “Fortune Favours the Brave” is undoubtedly reflected in their forward-thinking approach to IT and technology, as Jonathan explains in this podcast episode.   



“We run our academy trust like one school with four campuses. We use technology to bring our four schools together and pool our money and resources to do everything centrally,” Jonathan tells us. 

TCAT has spent the last few years rolling out one-to-one devices to each student in their trust and working with Cloud Design Box and other partners to move all their infrastructure to the cloud: 

“We had a clear vision to have one device per student, with a cloud-based learning platform that allows flexibility and enables a teaching and learning strategy built around blended learning,” Jonathan describes. 

Because of their success with technology, they have been involved in several Department for Education programmes, working with schools regionally and nationally on a number of projects.  

The EdTech Demonstrator programme is one example – this is where TCAT works with schools and trusts across the UK to deploy networks and devices, set up learning platforms and help with ed tech strategies.  

On top of this, all four schools within the trust are Microsoft Showcase Schools, English Hubs and run the Science Learning Partnership. 

“This allows us to have a big outreach and work collaboratively in partnership with other schools on school improvement projects.”  

How do you get the best value from technology in education? 

“Getting the best value out of technology is not about getting the cheapest option. It’s about looking at what outcomes you want to achieve and choosing the solution that will deliver those outcomes best,” Jonathan explains.  

“The danger with going for the cheapest option to get ‘the best value for money’ is that if it doesn’t change the outcomes for the children and doesn’t have any impact, then it’s not value for money, is it?” 

When looking at your ed tech strategy, Jonathan explains that you must first look at your infrastructure.  

“You could spend lots of money on devices but have utterly frustrated students and staff because they don’t work due to slow internet speeds or short battery life,” he adds. 

“Device selection is so important, and changes depending on your desired outcomes. For example, when we built our TV studio, we wanted a place to create media content for the curriculum, do staff CPD and bring our schools together for assemblies and conferences. So we needed high-end machines, hardwired with good broadband. However, when we looked at one-to-one devices for our students, we wanted mobility and long battery life.”  

Investing in IT to enable specialist learning. 

This approach to ed tech strategy has enabled TCAT to work in new and flexible ways, transforming how they deliver the curriculum. 

One example is the ability to get the most value out of specialist teachers. 

By investing in noise-cancelling wireless headsets and mics, the trusts can now deliver specialist learning (like languages and coding) to hundreds more students at a time. 

“Before, we would have 30 children in a classroom with one teacher and maybe a teaching assistant. Now, we have 250+ children in one lesson – they could even be across different year groups – being supported by specialists in that subject.” 

“What you’ve got is value for money because while I’ve invested in the headset, the digital pen and the tablet, I’ve got lots more children getting a better-quality education, delivered by a specialist.”  

Jonathan Bishop shows the noise cancelling headsets he invested in for TCAT.

Your ed tech strategy isn’t optional – trusts cannot afford not to invest in IT.  

Jonathan is a firm believer that if schools and trusts aren’t investing in ed tech, then they are denying students vital opportunities and skills: 

“Too many people think ‘we have no money, so we can’t achieve this, and therefore we’re not going to do it’. But, you’ve got to think differently. Getting the right devices and technology in the right hands of students and teachers brings MAT-wide efficiencies – it’s not an option,” he continues. 

“We’re in the business of education, and I’m a teacher. And whilst I might oversee these four schools in this role, I want to get as we all do the very best for children, the very best experiences, opportunities and outcomes for children.” 

Catch up on all the episodes of our podcast on YouTube, Spotify or on our website.

If you would like to find out more about our Cloud Box platform and how we can help improve communication and collaboration in your school or MAT, book a free demo today.  

How to get a notification every time a student submits a late assignment

The late turn in notification in Microsoft Teams Assignments allows you to be alerted if a student hands in their homework late.

The notification appears in the bottom corner of your screen, as well as the activity bell in the top-left of your Microsoft Teams.

This can be activated per assignment, or for all assignments in your class. It’s a handy feature that enables you to quickly identify if your students have submitted their assignments on time.

Turn on the late turn in notification for one assignment. 

  1. In Class Notebook, select Assignment. 
  2. Create your assignment as you would usually – fill in the information and set a deadline etc.  
  3. Under Settings, there’s an option to Receive notifications for late turn ins. Select Yes. 
  4. Select Assign to send out the assignment. Your late turn in notification is activated for this assignment.  

 

Turning on late turn in notification announcment for one assignment

Turn on the late turn in notification for all assignments. 

There’s also a way to set up a late turn in notification for all your assignments in a class.  

  1. Go into your Assignments in Class Teams. 
  2. Select Settings in the top right corner.
  3. Under Notifications, there’s an option to Receive notifications for late turn ins. Select Yes. 

From now on, notifications for late submissions will be turned on for all your assignments.  

Note: This only applies to your selected class. To activate the notifications for another class, you need to repeat this process in the Class Notebook Assignment tab for your other classes. 

 If you would like to find out more about our Cloud Box platform and how we can help extend Microsoft 365 in your school or MAT, book a free demo today.