Tag Archives: Podcast

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.  

3 essential resources for educators and school leaders

In this podcast episode, we spoke to Microsoft specialist and TweetMeet lead Marjolein Hoekstra about her journey with Microsoft, TweetMeets, MVPs, MSEduCentral and much more.

She reveals three must-have resources designed especially for educators and school leaders.

Marjolein first became connected with Microsoft after diving deep into OneNote and designing an example of what features she thought OneNote should have.

“I wanted to tell them about my desires for OneNote and they were so impressed with my ideas that they asked me if I wanted to become a Microsoft Most Valuable Professional. Of course, I was honoured,” says Marjolein.

“It was around this time I discovered how often OneNote is used in education, and I started to focus my efforts to showcase features of OneNote to educators and get involved in the Microsoft Education community.”




Microsoft asked Marjolein if she would like to organise TweetMeets for Microsoft educators, which she ran successfully until 2020 and has recently started back up in 2022.

“TweetMeets are a multi-lingual conversation on Twitter between educators globally. It takes place once a month and focuses on a certain topic. For example, previous TweetMeets have discussed equity and inclusion, hybrid learning and reading fluency and literacy,” explains Marjolein.

“Every TweetMeet is led by different hosts, who are experts in that month’s topic. It’s a chance to find like-minded people from around the world and connect with other educators and school leaders.”

You can find details about the next TweetMeet via the TweetMeet Twitter account.

Marjolein has also been building a spreadsheet of ‘Frequent Edu Links for Educators‘, which is a compilation of resources centred around certain topics or Microsoft products, especially for educators.

“We have topics for multiple different products used within Microsoft education. Teams plays a major role in this because it’s the underpinning platform for so many tools nowadays, but we have resources on Microsoft Edge, Whiteboard and other tools in the Microsoft suite,” Marjolein describes.

“The spreadsheet lives in your browser, so you can open this whenever you need to and share it with others.”

Microsoft Frequent Edu Links screenshot

The spreadsheet currently has a collection of 1,300+ resources that Marjolein and her team have been collecting over the past year and a half.

“We intend to keep updating the spreadsheet and we listen to feedback from users so that we can decide which resources to include,” she continues.

The third resource Marjolein talks about is the Daily Microsoft Ed Tech Newsfeed.

“This is basically a news page with blog posts, tweets, videos and other resources from Microsoft Education. It’s a mixed bag of the latest resources that could be of interest to educators,” says Marjolein.

“We also include announcements from the Office 365 IT Admin centre, so educators who are a bit more technically inclined can prepare themselves for what’s coming in the near future.”

Daily Microsoft EdTech News screenshot

Remember, Cloud Design Box also has an extensive library of resources focusing on Microsoft 365, SharePoint and Teams for education. Access all of our videos, podcasts, blogs, guides and more here.

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.  

Assessments and Engagement with Microsoft 365 at Bradford Girls’ Grammar School

In this podcast episode, we speak with Rachael Howarth, Vice Principal of Bradford Girls’ Grammar School about how they’re using Microsoft 365 to assess and engage students in a blended in-classroom and remote learning setting.

Rachael walks us through some key ways in which they’re using Microsoft Forms, Class Notebook, Polls and Insights to increase engagement, save teacher time, give feedback and keep an eye on students’ wellbeing.

“We’ve been using Class Notebook to engage with students who have been learning from home due to self-isolating. It’s been a blend of live teaching and uploading class resources for those students who share devices and need access to content on-demand,” Rachael tells us. 

“We’ve also been teaching in school and using tools in Teams to set assignments and rubrics, run polls to get a quick measure of where students are in terms of their learning.”  



In the video, Rachael demonstrates how the teachers use polls to help students further embed their learning and see which students have understood the lesson and who may need a recap.

“We have been using self-marking quizzes quite successfully – they give the students the answers as they move along,” she explains.

“Polls are like the classroom equivalent of holding up mini whiteboards and getting everyone to hold up their answer – you can get a broad sweep of who is understanding and who isn’t.”  

This type of interactivity is carried through to providing feedback to students. Teachers at Bradford Girls’ Grammar School are adding audio files to students work to give feedback on assignments. Not only is this engaging for students to actually hear their teacher explain something to them as if they were in the classroom, but it’s also saving teacher time as they don’t need to type or format any additional words.

“We’ve also been using audio files for learning objectives – just inserting a clip into a Class Notebook that explains exactly what we want the students to do – they can listen instead of writing out learning objectives and it does save time,” she adds. 

By using Microsoft 365 in and outside of the classroom, the school has been able to collect valuable data around students’ learning and engagement.  

“Some of our students do not have access to the live lessons because they share devices. So we need to look at other metrics to see if they’re participating in other ways: Are they having conversations, are they completing assignments, are they accessing Class Notebook?” Rachael explains.  

But, the Insights dashboard goes beyond checking up to see whether students are completing their homework: 

“It’s been really useful for pastoral support. At one point, we had a large number of users who were working in the middle of the night. So we immediately put out welfare messages to staff, parents and pupils. It gives us the opportunity to have that conversation with our community.”  

Bradford Girls’ Grammar School is embracing Microsoft for the future and not simply a remedy to the pandemic:  

“We’re learning rapidly – we’ve been on a steep learning curve but we’re implementing these interactive methods of assessment into our practice as we develop as remote teachers. Week on week, we’re getting a high-level engagement on Teams – anything between 190 and 700 daily active users – it shows how useful our students and staff are finding Teams.”

If you would like to learn more about how we can help your school or trust, please contact a member of our team today.

Embracing Microsoft at the Fallibroome Trust (Microsoft 365 User Adoption Episode 15)

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.




Listen on Spotify

“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.

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.



How To Achieve More With Breakout Rooms In Microsoft Teams (Microsoft 365 User Adoption Podcast Episode 13)

Breakout rooms in Microsoft Class Teams launched in January 2021, allowing teachers to create sub-meetings within the main class meeting for students to work together in small groups and discuss their learning.

In this discussion, we’ve included everything you need to know about breakout rooms in Teams, from how to set them up to safeguarding and saving time.




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How To Set Up Breakout Rooms In Class Teams

It’s straightforward to set up breakout rooms in Class Teams.

You can set up a breakout room once the meeting is open in the desktop app by selecting the breakout room button.

start teams breakout room

We have a step-by-step guide on setting up breakout rooms in Class Teams here.

The teacher can manually allocate each student to a specific breakout room or allow Teams to decide automatically. It’s entirely your choice – many teachers prefer to manually assign students, but it might be quicker to randomly assign everyone.

Once a breakout room is open, the students are placed into the room after 10 seconds. Breakout rooms can also be renamed.

How To Save Time Setting up Breakout Rooms in Class Teams

Currently, breakout rooms cannot be pre-planned and must be created while you’re in a Class Teams meeting. However, there are several ways to get around this.

The first is to open the meeting early and set out the rooms, then exit the meeting until you need to return, i.e. at the time of the class.

The second is to create recurring meetings for your lessons. Once you set up your breakout rooms in your first recurring meeting, it’ll save those rooms and reallocate the same students to the rooms for the next lesson.

reoccurring mreeting

How To Structure Breakout Rooms in Class Teams

The structure of your breakout rooms depends largely on how you teach your class. Here are some common examples:

  • Pairs or small groups.
  • Mixed ability groups.
  • Small groups with a teaching assistant.
  • Similar ability groups – i.e. red table, yellow table.

Think about how you structure your physical classroom and how you would group together students and apply this to the online classroom.

Ideas for Breakout Rooms in Class Teams.

Like with real-life group work in schools, breakout rooms are a great way to engage students in a different way that simply listening to the lesson and completing individual tasks.

Our Teaching and Learning consultant Darren Hemming was formerly a Modern Foreign Languages Teacher and has some ideas on how he’d use breakout rooms to enhance learning:

“One way is to set up a jigsaw activity, where each group takes a specific area or topic and completes questions or a task around that topic. Each group can then be brought back into the main Class Teams lesson to present to the rest of the class,” says Darren.

“There’s also the possibility of putting students into groups to complete individual work, but the breakout room is there as a co-working space. So the students can be working on their tasks, whether that’s completing a set of questions or doing some artwork, and if they get stuck, they can ask for peer support.”

Darren also points out that breakout rooms are a great way to reduce distractions on a students’ screen. If their screen is filled with 30 people, they may be less likely to contribute and also get distracted by their whole class staring virtually back at them.

Smaller groups mean fewer distractions and a less daunting environment to ask questions and contribute.

Safeguarding Students in Class Teams Breakout Rooms.

Safeguarding issues, inappropriate behaviour and cyberbullying are common concerns among teachers and staff who are dipping their toes into the world of breakout rooms.

“Firstly, you need to set expectations and communicate with both students and parents about what type of behaviour is acceptable during online learning,” Darren adds.

“Whether students are being taught online or in the classroom, safeguarding issues crop up. But there are some ways teachers can use the technology to closely monitor what’s happening within each room, as well as encourage them to stay on task.”

Teachers can hop in and out of the breakout rooms unannounced, and by doing this regularly, you can make sure students are staying on track.

Breakout rooms can also be recorded, which may help deter students from getting distracted or behaving inappropriately. To do this, teachers need to join the breakout room and hit record, but when they leave the breakout room, Teams will continue recording.

Another step to take in terms of safeguarding is updating your online learning policy to include Class Teams and breakout rooms.

“It’s all about being clear with your students that the expectations online are exactly the same as they would be on school premises,” says Darren.

Keeping Students On Task in Class Teams Breakout Rooms.

The methods mentioned above on safeguarding in breakout rooms can also be applied to keep students on task and steer them away from distractions and off-topic conversations.

A key way to keep students on task in breakout rooms is to keep the sessions short. By injecting a bit of urgency into the breakout rooms – i.e. only opening them for a few minutes at a time, you can make sure students are focusing on the task and not getting bored, going off-topic.

“It’s difficult to discipline students if they’re behaviour isn’t appropriate when teaching an online class. But you can always take them out of a breakout room (or the main Class Teams area) and into a breakout room with only you and talk to them about their behaviour,” Darren suggests.

“Of course, if the behaviour becomes an ongoing issue, you can then decide to take it further through the usual processes of your school, whether that would be to talk to their form tutor, head of house and eventually parents/guardians.”

Other Things To Remember About Class Teams Breakout Rooms.

Here are some additional tips you need to know about breakout rooms in Class Teams:

  • When a student enters a breakout room, their mic is unmuted and they have the ability to share their screen and present. But when they re-enter the main lesson, they are muted and can no longer present.
  • Recordings of individual breakout rooms are only shared with the specific participants, not everyone in the class. The teacher can access them, if needed, via OneDrive.
  • Reminders and time warning messages can be sent by the teacher to all breakout rooms to communicate with the class.

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.

Office 365 User Adoption Episode 11: Supporting Students with SEN and EAL with Office 365

In this podcast, we spoke with James Emmet, Network Manager at Engineering UTC North Lincolnshire about how they use features in Office 365 to support students with Special Education Needs (SEN) and English as an Additional Language (EAL).




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“We have a high number of students who are EAL, SEN, dyslexic and have low reading ages. I passionately believe that – when used in the right way – ICT is one of the most crucial tools to help these students with their learning,” James tells us.

“Our school’s main intake starts from Year 9, so it’s not long after they start before, we have to start prepping them for their GCSEs. Office 365 and key tools like Immersive Reader are essential for helping these students to learn.”

Immersive Reader is a free tool built into many of the Microsoft Products, including Microsoft Word.

“Using Immersive Reader, students can change the style and appearance of the text to help with reading comprehension,” James explains.

“For example, you can change the font, text size, text spacing and even create a virtual coloured overlay.”

Meanwhile, Picture Dictionary, the Translate tool and Read Aloud are particularly handy for supporting EAL students.

Picture Dictionary allows students to select a word they may not understand and view an explainer image, while Read Aloud turns the text on the page into speech for the student to listen to.

Both of these, combined with the Translate tool, are invaluable when it comes to improving reading comprehension in the classroom.

“We have found that Immersive Reader is being used by all of our students, not only those with EAL and SEN. In fact, one of our GCSE students who is predicted a level 7 in English regularly uses Immersive Reader to break down texts and closely analyse them,” James adds.

Immersive Reader also enables students to highlight word types, such as nouns and verbs, as well as break sentences down into syllables, which both students and their teachers have found useful for English and language-focused subjects.

“Because Immersive Reader is already built into many of the Microsoft products, we have not had to spend any extra time rolling it out into classrooms,” he tells us.

“It’s really taken off in our school. For example, we demonstrated the tool to one student and by the next lesson, the rest of their class were using it.”

The great thing about Office 365 and Immersive Reader is that it works on any connected device. Of course, this capability is more important than ever before as we see many children learning from home.

“We love the fact that Office 365 can be accessed via multiple devices and actively encourage our students to use their own devices or one from our bank of iPads. It gives their learning an extra boost.”

To find out more about Office 365 for Education, get in touch with a member of our team today.