5 top tips for adopting Microsoft 365 from a leading independent boarding school

Head of Digital Learning at a leading independent boarding school reveals 5 ways in which they have successfully onboarded staff and students to Microsoft 365, Teams and SharePoint.

Henry Exham currently teaches at a boarding school with 830 students ranging from 13-18. In our latest podcast, he joins COO Darren Hemming and Trainer & Solutions Consultant Joe Scott to talk about the challenges and successes of getting everyone in the school on board with Microsoft 365.

The school has worked with Cloud Design Box to harness the full power of Microsoft Teams and SharePoint, developing a clear, long-term user adoption strategy and embedding the new technology across all facets of school life.

Improving communication at an independent school

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Below, we’ve rounded up Henry’s top tips for adopting Microsoft 365 in an independent boarding school.

Identify champions to help you spread the word.

From the early stages of adopting Microsoft 365, Henry identified the key champions of the software – those teachers who had already been using the Microsoft Suite in their lessons and teaching:

“We had some good leaders in the pack already, who could help us spread the word.”

Start small.

Moving over to a whole new software, with new systems and processes can be overwhelming, so Henry suggests starting small and keeping things simple at first.

The first step was making it mandatory for teachers to set assignments and homework in Teams to get them using the software. Then Henry slowly ramped it up so it grew organically from there.

“You’re not going to convert every teacher overnight. So, we started off very gently with Teams and made everything really simple. Asking them to set all homework via Teams and showing them how they could upload resources too, but this wasn’t essential at this stage.”

Invest in training.

With the support of Cloud Design Box training up different areas of the school, Henry organised a focused teaching and learning week called “Teams week”:

“I created over 50 YouTube training videos, where I went through some of the basics of Teams and SharePoint, organising them into different levels so teachers could pick the level they were at and commit to learning something new that week,” he explains

“Everybody upskilled that week, improving their knowledge of Microsoft 365.”

Henry has also committed to onboarding new staff that join the school, providing four hours of IT training in their first term.

Give a reason to be engaged.

Embedding Microsoft 365 into the school’s digital learning strategy has helped everyone in the school understand its benefits and get onboard:

“Ultimately, our digital strategy is to prepare our students to be learners outside of education and prepare them for their future workplace or higher education, with the right digital skills. Teams fits well with this as it’s used in organisations all over the world. We’re building skills for the future and it’s easy to sell in that way.”

Build it into the curriculum.

To further achieve this digital strategy, Henry has created a digital skills curriculum for Year 9 students to integrate Teams into all their subjects. For example, creating spreadsheets in science and wordprocessing in history:

“A lot of people expect the younger generation to have IT skills as they are ‘digital natives’. But, just because they know how to scroll on a smartphone, doesn’t mean they know how to format a spreadsheet or document,” he adds.

“One example of this is setting them a task in English to create a blog about their favourite book, but they have to use Teams to create a full announcement, add an image, link to a YouTube video and post to the dedicated Teams channel.”

If you want to know more about Cloud Design Box and how we can help your school or MAT harness the full power of Microsoft Teams and SharePoint, book a free demo today.  

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

Cloud Design Box exhibiting at The Northern and Eastern Education Shows

This summer, Cloud Design Box is exhibiting at The Northern and Eastern Education Shows, which are part of the country’s leading series of events for promoting and developing effective school leadership, management, teaching and learning.  

Promising inspirational workshops, keynote speakers and a comprehensive exhibition of suppliers and service providers for schools and academies, both shows are an excellent opportunity for senior leaders to meet, network, share experiences and spark new ideas.  

Northern Education Show

The Northern Education Show takes place at Bolton Stadium Hotel in Bolton on Tuesday 6 June 2023 and The Eastern Education Show takes place at Newmarket Racecourse on Thursday 15 June 2023.  

The conferences are free to attend for all Headteachers, Deputy Headteachers, Finance Directors, Bursars, Business Managers, Governors, Local Authority Education Leaders, PTA’s, IT Managers and school leadership teams from the state, academy and private sectors.

“The Cloud Design Box team is always excited to meet face-to-face with schools, academies and trusts as it gives us a deeper insight into their challenges and successes with blended learning,” Customer Success Manager Joanne Harkin-Arro explains.  

“Personally, I love seeing those “ah-ha!” moments when we demonstrate how our product can help them with the stuff taking up a lot of their time and budgets.” 

Eastern Education Show

Come down to chat with Joanne and the rest of the team about accelerating digital transformation in your school, or trust with Microsoft Teams and SharePoint.  

We’ll be on hand to discuss how we can help you transform communication and collaboration across your school or MAT, as well as equip your teachers and students with Microsoft’s latest tools to facilitate hybrid learning.  

Book your free place for The Northern Education Show here. 

Book your free place for The Eastern Education Show here. 

Safeguarding Microsoft Teams in schools and MATs

As a school, MAT or college teacher, safeguarding your students from bullying and harassment is a top priority. As students spend more time online – both for education and during their leisure time – it’s more important than ever to have the tools in place to make sure they’re safe.

In this free webinar, Cloud Design Box is joined by NetSupport to discuss how schools and MATs can safeguard students with tools in Microsoft Teams.

Specialising in Microsoft Teams and SharePoint for education, Cloud Design Box is a Microsoft Partner and currently supports over 450 schools, academies, colleges and MATs.

NetSupport is a leading producer of educational and corporate software solutions, with over 33 year’s of developmental expertise and 19 million users worldwide. From IT management and remote control solutions to classroom management and online safety, we help organisations across a range of sectors to manage and maximise their technology.

During the webinar, NetSupport reveals their latest cloud-based classroom solution – Classroom.cloud, covering the following topics:

  • Safeguarding students in Microsoft Teams
  • Keyword phrase matching and monitoring
  • Whole device monitoring vs browser monitoring
  • Safeguarding students outside of the classroom

If you liked this webinar, we host regular free events aimed at schools and MATs to help them harness the full power of Microsoft 365. Check out all of our upcoming sessions on our events page.

How to set up weighted grading categories in Microsoft Teams Assignments

Weighted grading categories in Microsoft Teams Assignments provide your students with an overall percentage grade based on the different weightings and different assignments that you can set.  

For example, you can set up homework as making up 20% of a student’s grade, quizzes as 30% and in-class assignments at 50%.

Did you know that you can set up grade weighting categories in Microsoft Teams Assignments? 

In this guide, Joe shows you: 

  • How to switch grade weighting on/off. 
  • How to set up and manage your weighted grading categories. 
  • How to view weighted grade insights for your whole class.
  • How to view weighted grade insights for an individual student.

How to switch on graded weighted categories in Microsoft Teams Assignments. 

  1. Head to Assignments in your selected Class Team. 
  2. Select the Assignment settings cog in the right-hand corner. 

Weighted Grading Categories in Microsoft Teams

3. Under Grade settings, switch the Weighted grading categories toggle “on”.

grading categories

How to set up weighted graded categories in Microsoft Teams Assignments.  

  1. Head to Assignments in your selected Class Team. 
  2. Select the Assignment settings cog in the right-hand corner. 

Weighted Grading Categories in Microsoft Teams

3. Under Grade settings, switch the Weighted grading categories toggle “on”. A window will open for you to manage your grading categories.

Weighted grading cats

4. Tap Add grading category. 


5. Type a category name (e.g. Homework) and select a percentage (e.g. 30%). This would mean 30% of the student’s overall grade is made up of their homework grades.  

Weighted Grading Categories in Microsoft Teams


Percentages must add up to 100%.

6. Tap Save to save your grading categories.  

7. Next time you create a new assignment in Teams, you can select a Grading category. 

MS Teams weighted grading


If you wish to set an assignment that doesn’t go towards a student’s final grade, leave the Points section blank when you’re creating the assignment in Teams.


How to edit weighted graded categories in Microsoft Teams Assignments.

  1. Head to Assignments in your selected Class Team.
  2. Select the Assignment settings cog in the right-hand corner. 

Weighted Grading Categories in Microsoft Teams

3. Under Grade settings, select Manage grading categories next to Weighted grading categories. A window will open for you to manage your grading categories. 

4. From here, you can alter the names and percentages of your grading categories, as well as add and remove categories.  

5. Tap Save to save these grading categories.  

View weighted grading insights for assignments for your whole class. 

  1. Go to Insights in your Class Team. 
  2. Select Assignments.

Cat in teams

3. Scroll down to Average grade and select Grading categories. 

As you can see from this example, this class did slightly better overall on the quiz than on the homework.  

Weighted Grading Categories in Microsoft Teams

View weighted grade insights for an individual student. 

  1.  Go to Insights in your Class Team. 
  2. Select Assignments. 
  3. Use the search bar to search for the name of your student. 

From here, you can see the student’s grades compared with the rest of the class, their average grade and their weighted grading categories.  

In this example, this student did slightly better in their homework than the quiz, and their overall grade is 75.4%.  

Weighted Grading Categories in Microsoft Teams

If you’d like to find more content like this, subscribe to our YouTube channel. We post new content on Microsoft Teams and SharePoint every week. 

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The power of formative assessment in teaching and learning

Formative’s Ryan Clark discusses the power of real-time assessments in the classroom and how this data empowers teachers to recognise learning opportunities at an earlier stage while giving students agency in their own development.  

Ryan Clark joins Darren Hemming on the Cloud Design Box podcast to talk about this new approach to teaching and how Formative’s technology is supporting teachers to gather important data about class comprehension in and outside of the classroom.  

“Formative is a future-focused EdTech company that leverages the power of formative assessments to build the perfect tool for school districts and classrooms,” Ryan explains. 

“By creating real-time assessments, Formative hopes to give educators the tools and data to guide instructional decisions throughout the classroom.” 

Craig Jones, the CEO of Formative, created the concept while working as a middle school Science teacher. He believed that seeing growth in real-time was the most effective way to help students improve their learning and used a mixture of different tools to track student progress and get feedback from his class.  

Instruct, assess, engage and analyse.  

The Formative platform offers the ability to track students’ work in real-time, allowing teachers to monitor student understanding of their lesson and adapt the lesson/assignment if the class isn’t fully understanding the subject or questions.  

“The idea is to bring assessment into the instruction part of the lesson, rather than teaching a lesson and assessing the students at a later stage,” says Ryan. 

“Teachers can catch any misconceptions or misunderstandings individual students – or the whole class – might be making. So rather than teaching a lesson on Monday, then finding out on Thursday the students didn’t understand the lesson, you can recognise this on Monday with the data captured with the Formative tools.” 

Formative example

Instant insights into your teaching. 

Formative allows you to look at whole class trends and drill down into individual students, so you can see who understands the lesson and who may need additional support. 

The teacher dashboard allows you to see student answers coming in in real-time and you can even change up your assessment while students are still answering questions. 


You can modify assessments so that students receive marks instantly and can go through their answers straight away. Or alternatively, you can set up delayed feedback so everyone receives it at the same time, which is handy if you want to go through the answers as a class.  

teams embed formativeFor more in-depth assignments and answers, teachers can offer individual feedback for students or select multiple students to offer feedback to.  

Saving teachers time.  

Formative connects to Microsoft 365 and Teams, meaning you can skip all the administrative tasks like uploading your classes to the Formative platform. From Teams, you can automatically transfer classes and resources over.  

Ryan demonstrates how to quickly create an engaging and interactive worksheet in Formative from a Word Document. 

What’s more, you can share your Formatives in Microsoft Teams so that everything your students need is all in one place.  

Share teams

And, if you’re a Cloud Design Box customer, all of your classes in Teams are synced with your school or trust’s MIS data, meaning everything is there for you waiting – you simply turn up and teach. 

If you want to know more about Cloud Design Box and how we can help your school or MAT harness the full power of Microsoft Teams and SharePoint, book a free demo today.  

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

We’re partnering with Easy4u – a 1:1 device scheme for schools  

Cloud Design Box has partnered with Easy4u, a scheme provided by Class Technology Solutions to provide accessible, affordable digital education for everyone.   

Through working with many schools, MATs and colleges that have adopted a 1:1 device scheme, we’ve seen first-hand the benefits of placing a laptop or tablet in the hands of every student. However, it’s not always possible for some schools to introduce a 1:1 device scheme, whether it’s down to logistics or budget constraints.   

Title image for Cloud Design Box partners with Easy4u

FCA-approved, Easy4u facilitates the rental or purchase of devices directly with parents for students through a customised portal. The scheme helps educational professionals reduce financial risk and widen accessibility.   


Easy4u partnership event

The webinar will cover a comprehensive overview of how 1:1 devices and Microsoft Teams can be used to break down barriers to learning.   

You can also expect tips on getting better usage of Microsoft learning tools both in and outside of the classroom.  

“There are so many benefits of 1:1 devices in schools, from increased engagement to collaboration with classmates” says Cloud Design Box Founder and CEO Tony Phillips.   

“In this webinar, we really want to highlight how Microsoft Teams can be leveraged to create a more inclusive learning environment.”   

The webinar is free for schools and MATs to attend and takes place on Wednesday 10 May 2023 at 3:30 BST. Sign up here. 

Never lose an important email again – How to save attachments directly from an email into SharePoint

In this guide, we show you how you can save attachments from an email directly out of Outlook into SharePoint.  

We’ve all wasted a lot of time scouring our inboxes, hunting for files in email threads. Get into a good habit of saving your important emails and their attachments in SharePoint so you can easily find them whenever you need them.  

It’s as easy as dragging and dropping your attachments from Outlook and into SharePoint.


How to save attachments from an email in SharePoint.  

  1. In SharePoint, create or open a folder where you wish to save your email attachments to.
  2. In Outlook, open an email with attachments you want to save directly into SharePoint. 
  3. Drag and drop the attachments into the folder in SharePoint. These attachments can then be opened at a later date.  

How to save attachments directly from an email into SharePoint

How to save an email in SharePoint  

  1. In SharePoint, create or open a folder where you wish to save your email attachments to. 
  2. In Outlook, find an email with attachments you want to save directly into SharePoint.  
  3. Click on the email and hold your mouse down, dragging it into your SharePoint folder. This will upload the whole email into SharePoint, and you can open it later to view its contents and download the attachments. 

 Easily save outlook emails to sharepoint


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The key digital transformation challenges facing MATs in 2023

We’re thrilled to reveal that Cloud Design Box attended this year’s MAT Digital Acceleration Programme, hosted by Microsoft at the stunning Microsoft Experience Centre in Oxford Circus.  

Aimed at multi academy trusts (MATs) in the UK, the event centred around the challenges and successes of digital transformation in education.  

Team photo from the MAT Digital Transformation Programme Microsoft

“A highlight of the event for us was the opportunity to speak with MATs in-depth about digital transformation and hear their struggles and successes. Conversations like this always inform how we consider their use of our product and how we can best support them in their digital transformation,” says Sophie Allen, one of our Onboarding Leads who also attended the event. 

Some of the challenges we discussed with trust CIOs and CEOs included:

  • CPD
  • Sustainability (travelling between schools and paper)
  • Teams-enabled hybrid meetings
  • Wellbeing
  • Workload
  • Funding

A key challenge mentioned by several of the SLTs was their limited time to train staff and students in new technologies: 

“We’ve also recognised this when working with schools and trusts over the years. Time is limited and many staff who aren’t traditionally ‘tech savvy’ get left behind. That’s why we developed our onboarding process to include long-term support and designed our CPD-certified courses to fit around busy schedules and give staff the confidence they need to embrace a new way of working,” explains Tony.  

We also discussed how – as Microsoft Partners – we have developed a product that eases communication and collaboration across trusts, facilitating digital transformation.  

Microsoft Oxford Circus

Another struggle many MAT Senior Leaders face is creating a successful digital transformation strategy.  

“For us, this event confirmed that digital transformation is very much individualised to the specific needs of schools and trusts and comes with its own unique challenges and successes,” Sophie adds.  

“It was great to catch up with some of our customers face-to-face, including Rodillian Academy, Bridge Academy Trust, Bishop Bewick Catholic Education Trust and Leodis Academies Trust, as well as see some new faces.”  


Interestingly, we heard from one trust who are working to be more sustainable and cut its CO2 and waste:

“This trust explained that by using Teams they were not only saving paper but also cutting down travel between sites for trust-wide meetings. While they still do some in-person meetings, they can be optionally hybrid,” Tony points out.

Overall, the day was a fantastic experience, and our team enjoyed getting an even deeper insight into MATs and their digital transformation experiences.  

We’d particularly like to thank Tablet Academy’s Philemon Burney, Anthony Martin from Exeter College and Matt McDermott from The Multi-Academy Trust Association for their inspiring presentations, as well as Microsoft’s Jennifer King for organising the event.

Cloud Design Box celebrates another year at Bett Show 2023

In March, we were thrilled to be exhibiting again at Bett Show 2023. Here’s a roundup of what we got up to.

“This is our seventh year attending Bett Show and our fifth year exhibiting. The show is a highlight in our calendar every year and it’s great to be back. It’s an extremely busy but exciting week for the whole team,” enthuses Tony Phillips, Founder and CEO of Cloud Design Box.

Tony Phillips at Bett show

“Bett gives us the unique opportunity of speaking with education leaders from MATs and schools about the challenges they face, as well as catching up with current customers and our partner companies.”

We were thrilled to share a stand with our long-term partners SalamanderSoft, as well as Which MIS? who run an online publication for schools and multi academy trusts, presenting a balanced view of the MIS landscape in the UK.

“This year, there was a lot of talk about Artificial Intelligence, and we’re excited for our customers to try some of the Microsoft co-pilot tools when they become available,” Tony adds.

Cloud Design Box Team at Bett 2023

In the days leading up to Bett Show, some members of the Cloud Design Box team attended the pre-Bett Partner meeting and presented to partners with the Microsoft SDS team. We also attended the Microsoft workshop on SDS (School Data Sync) and OEA (Open Education Analytics), which revealed some of the latest exciting updates coming to Teams.

We’d like to say a huge thank you to everyone who came along to see us at our shared stand with Which MIS? and SalamanderSoft.

Bett show with Cloud Design Box and SalamanderSoft

If you missed us at Bett or couldn’t attend, you can still book a chat with our team. Give us a call on 01482 688890.

How to add an eye-catching Call To Action on SharePoint

The Call To Action SharePoint Web Part is a Cloud Design Box exclusive feature that allows you to quickly create professional-looking and eye-catching call to actions on your SharePoint sites. 

call to action web part in SharePoint

This guide shows you how to add a Call To Action to your SharePoint sites.  

How to add a Call To Action Web part to a SharePoint site 

  1. Head to the site you wish to add a Call To Action to and select Edit in the top-right corner of the screen. 
  2. Hover over the section to which you wish to add a call to action and hit the round plus button.   new web part in SharePoint

Tip: To create a new section, hit the plus button on the left-hand side of the SharePoint site.  

3. Add CDB Call To Action. Use the search bar to save scrolling.  

4. A Call To Action template will be generated, including an image, headline, description and button. 

Add an eye-catching Call To Action to your SharePoint site

5. Select Edit web part (pencil icon) to customize your call to action.   

The CDB Call To Action Web Part offers many customisation options while retaining the look and feel of your brand.  

You can: 

  • Turn on/off the button. 
  • Change the size and position of the background image. 
  • Choose a dark background. 
  • Change the padding and font size.  
  • Hide the background image in small sections.

create call to action

The CDB Call To Action web part for SharePoint is only available to Cloud Design Box customers. 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, MAT or business, book a free demo today.