Wigan-based Community First Academy Trust was reviewing its technical support and its strategic IT plan to modernise and revolutionise their IT systems and practice, Techminder provided the academy trust with a forward-thinking business proposal to help them achieve their business aims.
The trust and its workforce are reaping the rewards of a new Cloud-based system introduced by Techminder, which provides a secure, data-compliant system providing teachers and staff with much easier and more flexible access to files and teaching resources.
“We would recommend Techminder because their understanding of the educational environment and the challenges we face on a day-to-day basis equipped them well to design and deliver an IT solution that met our needs,” said Carol Brockbank, the trust’s Chief Financial Officer.
Community First Academy Trust, which employs 85 staff, operates Platt Bridge Community School, comprising a 150-pupil nursery and a 420-pupil primary school. It also runs Kingsbridge Teacher Training – SCITT (School Centred Initial Teacher Training), which provides graduate and apprenticeship teacher training, end point assessment services and personal development opportunities to the wider school workforce. The trust is a DfE (Department for Education) sponsor which allows it to offer school to school support services to other schools.
When Techminder approached the trust in 2021 to explain the company’s services and its risk management services, it came at an opportune moment. “We were reviewing opportunities to improve our current IT systems, with a focus on improving our cyber and e-security systems, and Techminder provided a full cloud-based solution which met with our business aim” said Chief Operating Officer Craig Holden.
“The pandemic forced us to move towards a Cloud-based system practically overnight to give staff better access and to engage with parents and we wanted to extend that further.
“Another driving factor was in support of our growth and development plans, we needed a solution which would develop with us and allow the trust to smoothly integrate other organisations which wanted to join us.”
Carol added: “We also wanted a system that would be sustainable and reflect the contemporary development in the field of IT within education and business’’.
“Techminder provided a proposal underpinned with ahigh level of knowledge required to deliver on the vision of what we wanted to achieve and Techminder were able to explain things in a way that was understandable.”
Over a period of just a few weeks during the 2021 summer holidays, Techminder rebuilt and configured the trust’s network from the ground up and introduced a Cloud-based system through Microsoft Azure. All the trust’s mobile devices and IT equipment were audited and reconfigured to ensure they would meet the latest security standards and could connect to the new system.
A training package was devised to show staff how to use the new system and two drop-in sessions were held at the start of the autumn term for anyone who needed support and guidance.
Carol said that during the entire process from Techminder, staff were present on site to ensure a smooth transition.
An ongoing support package includes a weekly visit. “We can also get in touch with the helpdesk at any time and they can access our system remotely to sort out any issues in a timely manner,” said Carol.
The benefits of the system Techminder introduced include the flexibility of staff being able to access the trust’s files and systems from anywhere, including from home.
“From a teacher’s point of view, it has made planning, preparation and assessment much easier because teachers now have access to the entire system securely from any device at any time,” said Craig.
“We are also more confident that our systems are data compliant and the security of the DfE cyber security requirements.”
The trust says Techminder are “Knowledgeable, experienced, innovative, reliable and approachable,” and would recommend their services to other trusts, schools and education providers.
THE TECHNICAL DETAILS
Thanks to the work of Techminder, Community First Academy Trust now enjoys:
- 10gbps fibre between it’s 3 network cabs
- 10gbps fibre between switches in each stack
- Gigabit wireless infrastructure
- A system that is fully managed by Microsoft Azure and Endpoint platforms
- A PaperCut MF printing solution that is integrated with Azure Active Directory
- A robust Sophos XG Firewall with Advanced Protection
- Sophos ransomware and anti-virus protection across all devices
- A network ready to receive Cyber Essentials accreditation