Improving communication and collaboration at Bridge Academy Trust

In this podcast episode, we caught up with Mark Fuller, IT Director for Bridge Academy Trust (BAT) – a multi academy trust based in Essex – about how they have extended Microsoft 365 with Cloud Box to improve communication and collaboration between their 12 schools.



Bridge Academy Trust is a large MAT made up of four secondary schools and eight primary schools. Providing education to students 3-19, the Trust needed a solution that would not only enable collaboration between its schools but also allow each individual school to embrace blended learning in its own unique way.

Following a merger, BAT found themselves managing ten different Microsoft 365 tenants across the trust – one for each of the schools and one for their central trust team:

“We quickly realised that this approach was unsustainable. Our staff had several different logins to access what they needed. It was complex and time-consuming, and didn’t promote any kind of collaboration or communication between our schools,” Mark explains.

“To make everything simpler and to encourage more collaboration between our schools, we made the decision to merge all schools into one BAT tenant with the help of Cloud Design Box and their partners.”

Cloud Design Box worked with SalamanderSoft and AspiraCloud to migrate all 10 tenants into 1 and rollout Microsoft 365, Teams and SharePoint across the whole trust.

One of the key challenges of merging the 12 schools was that they were all at different stages of blended and online learning – each unique in the way they were using Microsoft for teaching and learning.

“Some of our secondary schools were already using the full suite of Microsoft 365 – doing a lot of their teaching and learning in SharePoint and Teams – so there was a lot of data to merge. However, some of the other schools were only using Microsoft for email, while some were using Google’s education tools,” Mark describes.

By rolling out Cloud Box to every school and supporting Mark with training and resources to boost user adoption, we have been able to help every school progress in their Microsoft journey and make the most out of the tools that most benefit their way of working.

You can read all about how Mark has been working with each school to boost user adoption of Microsoft 365 in this blog post.

Moreover, while one of the main motivations for merging to one tenant was to encourage collaboration across the trusts, Mark wanted to make sure address lists stayed useful and relevant to each user.

“We didn’t want students to be able to see the email addresses of every other student across the 12 schools. But, we did want staff to be able to communicate with the central trust team and other relevant groups of people within the trust,” he adds.

“We worked with SalamanderSoft to create separate address lists so that students and staff have access to the contacts they need, instead of a whole list of BAT users.”

This information is driven by the MIS data so automatically stays up to date as students and staff join and leave the trust.

“Our central team all work off SharePoint now. We are working with each school to see how they can benefit from Microsoft 365 and Cloud Box,” Mark enthuses.

“If a new school joins the trust in the future, everything is already set up and we can onboard the school really easily.”

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.  

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