Tag Archives: DfE

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.  

Wilberforce Sixth Form College Awarded Microsoft Showcase College Status (Microsoft 365 User Adoption Podcast Episode 14)

Cloud Design Box has been working with Wilberforce College, a further education Sixth Form College in Hull, to support them in moving to Microsoft Teams and SharePoint, through training and strategy sessions, as well as software set up and implementation.

Assistant Principal at Wilberforce College Jonathan Butler recently joined us on a webinar to discuss best practices in Microsoft Teams and how working with Cloud Design Box has helped the school achieve their goals with cloud-based learning.




Listen on Spotify

“If you’re thinking about moving over to Teams, you must think about how you’re going to share and store files – it should be your priority. If you don’t have a backend storage system – like SharePoint – linked with Teams, things can become a little bit messy, especially when you enter a new school year,” Jonathan explains.

“Cloud Design Box has helped us to set up Teams and SharePoint in a way that will serve us year after year, with long-term resources that can be reused for each new class you teach.”

The College was crowned a DfE EdTech Demonstrator School and are now part of the network of schools and colleges who have shown they can use technology effectively and have the capacity to help other education organisations do the same.

“We had a head start in moving across to Teams and SharePoint thanks to the long-term strategy and technology rollout implemented by Tony and the rest of team.”

Wilberforce College has witnessed a massive increase in staff engagement and enthusiasm for Microsoft 365.

“After taking part in the informative training sessions with Lloyd at Cloud Design Box, our staff have been inspired to learn more and look deeper into how we can use Teams better in the school. Around 80% of our teaching staff took it upon themselves to seek further training from Microsoft,” Jonathan adds.

“The enthusiasm and uptake of the product sort of snowballed from there. We have now been awarded Microsoft Showcase College status and are the only sixth form in the UK to be awarded this accolade.”

CPD Training Graph

Throughout the pandemic, Teams and SharePoint has transformed the way teachers and school staff collaborate at Wilberforce:

“It’s great to see so many members of staff recording quick training videos and sharing them with colleagues. At the tap of a button, this valuable content can be shared to all staff, or specific groups. For example, we recently had a teacher share a video on immersive reader,” he tells us.

“Teachers are no longer working in isolation – they’re sharing their resources, skills and knowledge. Even when the pandemic is over, we must make sure this kind of collaboration continues.”

Here’s a video featuring the staff and students at Wilberforce College, talking about how Microsoft 365 has transformed learning.