In this podcast episode, we speak with Stuart Carvell, Assistant Head at Eaton Bank Academy, which is part of the Fallibroome Trust about how Microsoft 365 is being rolled out across the trust and its academies and schools.
“Microsoft 365 was an obvious choice for Eaton Bank Academy. Many of the schools in the Fallibroome Trust are Microsoft Schools, with some exceptions,” says Stuart.
“As the trust grows, our need to be able to collaborate across schools increases and Microsoft is helping us do this.”
As with any new technology or process, getting everyone on board can be a challenge. Stuart outlines how the trust is helping people feel more confident with Microsoft by using champions in each school and department:
“It’s good to have people feeling confident when using a new product. We had a group of early adopters that championed Microsoft and shared knowledge with other members of staff,” he tells us.
“The team was made up of around 12-15 people from a range of subjects, job roles and IT ability.”
Skill sharing in this way has been an integral part of user adoption success at Fallibroome and this helped the trust face lockdown and the subsequent school closures.
“At the beginning of the pandemic, we brought together our primary and secondary colleagues and asked them to share what they’ve learned about Microsoft 365,” Stuart reveals.
“We’re very lucky that our staff were enthusiastic and ready to share their knowledge.”
One key to getting staff on board with new technology is to demonstrate its benefits to their everyday teaching.
“In the long run, using these digital tools will save our staff a lot of time. However, it will take time and effort initially,” Stuart continues.
“Before using Microsoft, we were so used to sending different versions of files, but now we have the ability to co-author the same documents at the same time. It’s all about changing those habits to benefit us in the long term.”
Adopting Microsoft 365 has also enabled their students to become more independent:
“Our students have become more independent and have said using the software has been a positive experience for them. But can we evidence this? I’m not sure at this point,” he adds.
“What I will say is that, if you asked me a year or two ago if our students could manage their own time, receive an education without being in school and organise their own learning, I would have said no. But now they can do all of that.”
Another challenge that has affected the Fallibroome Trust is making sure everyone has access to suitable devices and a good level of digital literacy.
They have created videos and resources to upskill both parents and students, alongside looking into how they can support the school community with laptop lending and loan schemes.
Stuart tells us that the Fallibroome Trust still has a way to go in terms of its long-term strategy for online learning. But teachers and students are beginning to make real use out of the digital resources and in some cases, online learning has become common practice:
“My colleagues and I have become more comfortable in creating video content for our students and thinking ahead towards a blended approach. Meanwhile, all of our assignments and homework tasks are completed in Teams, so the students are continually using the product and refreshing their skills daily.” Stuart enthuses.
“Our strategy goes beyond the pandemic. We are building resource libraries and thinking of them as long-term resources that we can use year after year.”
Want to discuss how your school or trust can adopt Microsoft 365? Speak to Cloud Design Box’s education experts today.