In this podcast episode on Microsoft 365 user adoption, we speak with Mark Guest, Director of Innovation at PolyMAT, a multi academy trust in Thamesmead and the surrounding areas.
Mark discusses how the trust uses SharePoint to improve communication across the schools and created dashboards with Microsoft Power Apps to save teacher time.
PolyMAT is a UK-based MAT made up of Woolwich Polytechnic School for Boys, one of the country’s largest boys’ secondary schools and its sister school Woolwich Polytechnic School for Girls.
Watch the full podcast episode here:
“My job as Director of Innovation has so many facets to it. I focus on how we can make the most of data, systems and technology in our schools to become more efficient and ensure we’re getting value for money,” Mark tells us.
PolyMAT has been working with Cloud Design Box since 2020, and they have created staff collaboration sites in SharePoint for each of the schools, plus the main one for the trust as a whole.
“Each page follows a consistent layout and includes relevant news, a calendar, announcements, Quick Links to things like policies, a class cover manager and information about room changes that are all pulled from SIMS,” Mark explains.
“We’ve also got an area where staff can ask questions and share feedback directly to the trust leadership team.”
The three calendars – one for the boys’ school, the girls’ school and trust are synced using Power Automate so that they always contain the correct, up-to-date information.
Staff can easily send out a quick announcement by filling out a form and selecting a target audience – this allows them to publish the information onto SharePoint and have the option to send an email to the right people.
“We’ve created a Senior Leadership Team (SLT) app that teachers can download to their phones. They’ll receive push notifications if a student is removed from a lesson or SLT is required.”
PolyMAT is also taking advantage of the endless possibilities of Power BI dashboards.
“Our various dashboards can be embedded into SharePoint and save teachers loads of time when they need to access information about their students quickly,” he shows us.
“An example is our Tutor Reports – they show things like attendance and punctuality, as well as the number of students who are off due to self-isolation and therefore need work to be provided while they’re learning from home.”
A specific example of the technology reducing admin time for teachers is gathering information about a particular student:
“A Head of Year may need to know who teachers an individual student. This job would typically take around 10-15 minutes to complete. Now, they simply bring up a student profile and can get the information in a couple of minutes.”
PolyMAT is committed to training and continuous development, always seeking feedback and helping teachers use the tools to save time and get back to teaching.
“Regular training is available, and we’ve got a long term plan to increase efficiency even further. For example, bring all our Power Apps into one place and relocating our resources in centralised document libraries that will get shared across the schools and trust,” he adds.
“As the trust grows and more schools join, we need to make sure that they have the same setup. During the pandemic, we’ve had a massive increase in using Teams and Microsoft 365, but if we don’t have structures in place and a long-term strategy, we won’t be able to sustain that level of usage. So we’re working with Cloud Design Box on a five-year plan to make sure we make the most out of this technology.”
If you would like to learn more about how we can help your school or trust, please contact a member of our team today.