Preston Primary Academy Trust

  • Managed IT Support
  • Hardware
  • Printix
  • Internet provision
  • Microsoft 365 – Azure, SharePoint, Teams
  • Training
  • Trust wide Hosted SIMS with customised app

The Challenge

IT was becoming an issue within the Trust with three different providers telling individual schools differing ideas and strategies for IT. There was no central management and a heavy reliance on providers fixing the same old hardware, which was affecting teaching and productivity. 

Remote access between the sites was put in place and as the trust grew, so did the risk of viruses and malware.

Individual schools were also having costly, weekly visits and the IT problems just kept reoccurring.

Individual schools’ costs were all rising and because of the lack of strategy, each school was faced with needing significant server hardware investment.

The Solution

At the start of the process, we engaged with the Executive team to define what ‘great IT’ looks like and started to develop a strategy from there. 

We visited all the schools and carried out a full IT Audit to obtain where IT currently was.

Discussing the outcomes with the Trust, we proposed a way forward for 12, 24 and 36 months. This was outcome led, not particularly technology led. After discussing the technological options and delivered proof of concepts, we developed an implementation strategy of the following solution.

It was decided to move all schools to a serverless environment using Microsoft 365 and creating a dedicated Trust Hosted SIMS solution. This enabled all Trust staff to work from any site, in fact anywhere. All the data is held with Microsoft SharePoint and Teams platform, enabling greater collaboration between the sites.

Within the first transition year, we reduced onsite visits dramatically and as we move into the new academic year, regular onsite visits will be replaced by our IT Managed Service Desk service.

We also provided onsite user adoption training and continue to develop the IT journey in line with new technologies. 

With Trust growth, it became apparent that using a variety of providers for hardware and infrastructure was not where we wanted to be. For some time we had been researching to seek a way forward to create IT solutions for educational purposes and central team effectiveness. As always in these situations, if you are not aware of the possibilities, it is difficult to make the best decisions.

Praestantia quickly got to grips with our current status, however above all, understood that our only intention was to advance the educational opportunities for our pupils and the effectiveness of the Trust. We were not open to being “driven” in any other direction.

We now feel that as a client our principles are understood and our IT systems will continue to support further growth and clear Trust development.

The Outcome

The Trust has revolutionised their whole IT setup. IT is now seen as tool to help enable Teaching and Learning and not a barrier. Equally the central and business function of the Trust has become more productive. 

Staff have become more engaged with IT and love the proactive support and now don’t see why they have needed visits every week.

By using the technology, the Trust have invested in, they are always looking at ways to become more efficient and enhance their environments.

Where needed, members of the team can easily access any SIMS database securely and go from site to site with one login.

Having moved to a serverless solution, it has reduced the schools demand and cost on IT support allowing them to have a proactive relationship rather than a constant raft of technical issues and barriers. 

The advice and support provided at the beginning of our working relationship helped us develop an IT strategy which will future proof the Trust as it grows and develops.

The ongoing support and advice has provided all staff with the reassurance that any queries and /or concerns are dealt with in a timely manner, which then enables them to continue working without delay or interruption.

The IT provision we now have in place allows all staff to work from any location in the Trust or from home which has ensured that in a period of school closures our Teachers can continue to teach and Support staff can continue to work to maintain business continuity.

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