Tag Archives: Darren Hemming

Moving from a single Microsoft 365 tenant to a central trust tenancy with Sacred Heart Catholic High School

In this podcast episode, we spoke with Martin Edworthy, eLearning Coordinator at Sacred Heart Catholic High School about how they moved from their school’s Microsoft 365 tenant to a centralised tenancy for their trust (The Bishop Bewick Catholic Education Trust). 

“Working between two tenancies was becoming unnecessarily complex as our members of staff needed multiple logins to access the resources they need,” Martin tells us.  

“We made the decision to move to the central trust tenancy to make life easier in the long run. As the trust grows, new members of staff will be able to join and instantly have access to resources with a minimum amount of effort.”  



 

The challenges of migrating from one tenancy to another. 

Sacred Heart was already using SharePoint and Teams for teaching and learning; storing learning resources in SharePoint and setting work and assignments in Teams.  

“We had gradually moved departmental resources from our network drives into SharePoint. And during lockdown, there was a massive uptake in Teams as teachers used it to deliver live lessons and teach their classes,” he explains. 

“So, when it came to migrating everything across to the trust tenancy, it required a bit of thinking to make sure everything was moved across seamlessly and permissions and access was set up correctly.”  

As our Operations Manager Darren Hemming explains, SharePoint permissions can quickly get messy if it’s done on an individual basis: 

“We recommend using groups instead (that’s security groups, not distribution lists). For example, ‘All staff’, ‘All students’, ‘Senior Leadership’. This makes it a lot easier to manage permissions and access to files,” Darren describes.  

“The shift in how permissions are managed took time to get our heads around, but we are seeing the benefits of this now. One example where having groups is useful is if a new teacher joins a department and needs to change something on a site, we can just drop them into an appropriate group,” Martin acknowledges. 

Teaching and learning with Microsoft 365.  

Equally, Martin is impressed with how easy it is for teachers to be able to find and share resources now they’re all centralised in SharePoint: 

“One thing that’s caught my eye is the ability to attach resources to assignments without having to look for files in different drives,” Martin enthuses.  

“It makes it easier for both teachers and students to have all the resources in the same pool, rather than spread across different storage areas.”  

This centralised approach to resources has also given students the opportunity to take control of their own learning.  

“We’re moving in the direction of embedding learning journeys for students so they know exactly where they are in their learning. This is to help tackle lost learning due to Covid-19,” Martin continues. 

“If they need to have time off due to illness or isolation, they can easily go into SharePoint and for example go to ‘Maths, topic 3, lesson 5’ and catch up with any learning they’ve missed.” 

This has also led to keen students looking ahead at what they need to read up on and completing work before it’s even been set in the classroom: 

“One or two students have seen something before the lesson and done the work off their own backs – it’s great to see that when it happens.” 

Not only does this help students develop independence, but also instils important skills for the future – whether that’s in further education or a job.

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

Microsoft 365 user adoption tips from a large multi academy trust (MAT)

In this second podcast episode with Bridge Academy Trust (BAT), we discuss user adoption tips with Mark Fuller, IT Director and how he is supporting 12 schools to embrace the tools in Microsoft 365.



Bridge Academy Trust is a large MAT made up of four secondary schools and eight primary schools. In 2021, the Trust worked with Cloud Design Box and its partners to merge ten different Microsoft 365 tenants and roll out SharePoint and Teams to each school in the trust.

You can read the details about this merge and migration project in this blog post.

One of the key challenges when rolling out Microsoft 365 across BAT was that each school was at a very different stage in terms of blended learning.

“Some of our secondary schools were already using the full suite of tools in Microsoft for teaching and learning. Meanwhile, other schools were only using it for email and storing some files in OneDrive,” Mark explains.

“We also had a school using G Suite that we needed to migrate across and support them in using brand new blended learning tools.”

Mark describes his approach when it came to encouraging user adoption of Cloud Box in each school.

His first quick win is to set the school’s SharePoint intranet as the default homepage:

“This way, I’ve won half the battle because they’re already using it. The page contains links the staff will find useful – timetables, web applications, finance forms, HR forms, policies etc,” Mark tells us.

“When they open their computers, it’s the first thing they see – they haven’t got to start typing out the URL. It just makes navigation so much easier.”

As they roll out, Mark is working with each school to introduce them to SharePoint and Teams and support them with user adoption.

“I speak to staff and give them a brief demo of what SharePoint and Teams can do. I do live webinars and drop-in sessions using Microsoft Teams and record them so staff can watch later if they miss the live events,” he continues.

“I have also created a training site within SharePoint for staff to access. This not only has my own resources on there, but I have links to the courses created by Cloud Design Box and Microsoft. There’s no point in me re-creating what has already been done and they have saved me so much time.”

Access our free training videos here.

Mark points out that it’s important to recognise that each school, even if they are in the same trust, has very different needs and will use Microsoft 365 in different ways:

“It’s important we work with schools to create something that they will use, rather than telling them exactly how to use it. This has worked well, and we’ve had schools ask for all sorts of things, like a place to store all exam information and a site dedicated to assemblies,” Mark enthuses.

Lastly, Mark has made himself available to answer questions for any school that needs it:

“It can be a bit of information overload for some staff, so alongside the training and drop-in sessions, I have made myself available to answer questions from schools.”

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.  

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.  

Microsoft 365 User Adoption Episode 12: Saving Teacher Time With Class Notebook

Our Office 365 User Adoption Podcast highlights real-life stories from schools, academies and Multi Academy Trusts on how they’ve successfully rolled out Microsoft 365, SharePoint and Teams to staff and students.

In this podcast episode, we spoke with Rachael Howarth, Vice Principal at Bradford Girls’ Grammar School and Business Studies teacher on how they’re using Microsoft 365 to support students’ learning and save teachers’ time, whether they’re working remotely or in the classroom.




Listen on Spotify

Bradford Girls’ Grammar School started using SharePoint in March and April 2020 when UK schools were forced to close due to the Covid-19 pandemic and subsequent lockdown.

“We started out using SharePoint, but from mid-May, we’ve been using Teams to improve the interaction between teachers and students,” explains Rachael.

“Since September, it has been a government requirement that anyone absent from school has immediate access to remote learning, so we adopted Class Notebook to achieve this in an efficient way.”

Rachael explains that the school decided it would be a lot easier if teachers planned lessons via Class Notebook so that they could use the resources in the classroom, as well as distributing them to students who were not in school, as well as another cover staff who required access to them.

“It’s been working really well. Students have access whenever they need to, and can go back and revise from these resources at a later date.”

An example of this in action is a Year 13 Business lesson Rachael shows us during the podcast.

Class Notebook

“Within this lesson, I have written down some instructions for students. If the lesson was recorded, I could link the video and there wouldn’t be a need for so many words here,” Rachael demonstrates.

“I have also added in links to YouTube videos and an audio recording of myself describing how this lesson fits into the rest of the A Level Business Studies course.”

Rachael explains how using links to videos is a great way to quickly share important learning resources without having to manually upload and embed resources multiple times. You can also do this with other files from your own OneNote, such as PowerPoint.

“We structure our files so that we have a centralised resource bank for each subject, then just reference or link to them in lessons rather than embedding and uploading those files for every single class. It saves a lot of time.”

The Grammar School has been making the most of centralised resources by allowing staff members to share and collaborate when creating learning materials.

“This has significantly reduced teacher workload. Our teachers have really appreciated being able to remotely co-author documents together and save time,” she continues.

“Centralising files in this way also allows department heads to check the quality and consistency of learning resources and – as an added bonus – we can instantly give our support and cover staff access to resources without manually having to send lesson plans and resources.”

Alongside Class Notebook, the school is also using Assignments.

“We keep our Assignments and Class Notebook separate so that students have an area to upload their classwork – any work that they complete during a lesson and therefore doesn’t have to be necessarily marked by a teacher. Meanwhile, they use Assignments for more formal, graded work,” Rachael shows us.

“Forms is also a really useful way to quickly quiz students and check their progress.”

As Darren Hemming, our Teaching and Learning Consultant, points out, having an online area where students can upload classwork enables the teacher to remotely walk around the classroom and look over students’ shoulders to check everyone is on track.

“Assignments has been a great way to instantly give digital feedback to students during Covid-19, without worrying about swapping pieces of paper back and forth between teachers and their classes.”

One challenge the school has faced during the pandemic is live teaching to students who are working from home.

saving teacher time with class notebook

“We’re located in a deprived area of the country and not all of our students have easy access to devices that they can work from. We’re lending students our spare devices and working with the government to provide as many tablets and laptops as possible, but the reality is some families still have to share one device between them,” Rachael tells us.

“Because of this, live teaching would not currently be possible if we had another school closure. Many students would be unable to attend timetabled classes and that’s why we’ve taken the approach of recording lessons and letting students access the videos and written materials at a time that suits them.”

During the beginning of lockdown, when some students only had mobile phones to work from, the school was able to work around this barrier by allowing students to take a photo of written work and upload it to Class Notebook.

“We’re now looking at setting up virtual drop-in sessions so students have access to their teacher on a regular basis to ask questions,” she points out.

“With the help of ongoing support and training, our students and staff have picked all of this up incredibly quickly. I’m looking forward to improving how we work and making it run even more smoothly.”

You can watch the full episode and the full podcast series on the Cloud Design Box YouTube channel. If you have any questions about adopting Microsoft 365, Teams and SharePoint in your school or organisation, get in touch with a member of our team right now.