With a consistent environment and single sign on for both staff and students across the Trust, cross-collaboration is improved for all teaching staff and is easier for IT to manage, maintain and administer.
Bridge Academy Trust is a Multi Academy Trust based in Essex. Comprising 12 schools, this large MAT is made up of four secondary schools and eight primary phase schools accounting for around 6,400 students across the county. The Trust is dedicated to providing high quality continuity of every child’s journey through education from 3 to 19, with a strong sense of ‘community’ and a long term sustainable strategy.
“Following a merger of another large school into Bridge Academy Trust, we found ourselves managing ten different Microsoft 365 tenants across the Trust,” explains Mark Fuller, IT Director at Bridge Academy Trust. “We also had one school running a G-suite tenant and another using an onsite Exchange server: it was a complex and time consuming environment to administer that struggled to promote any kind of cross collaboration across the schools.”
The Trust quickly recognised the need to improve and optimise its IT to create a consistent environment in order to improve collaboration and productivity for both staff and students.
Working with Microsoft Gold Partner and Cloud Productivity partner, AspiraCloud, it was recommended that all 12 schools, along with the Trust’s central management team, should be merged onto one single Microsoft 365 platform.
This major migration project commenced at the end of July. Mark continues: “We are a large MAT with a lot of data, so we planned the move based on data size. Some of our larger schools had terabytes of SharePoint, Teams and OneDrive data to migrate, so it was more effective to make the move during the summer holidays.”
Between July and September, using Azure Active Directory Cloud sync, all ten Microsoft 365 tenants data, including user identities, email, SharePoint and Teams, were swiftly merged into one single Microsoft 365 platform. The schools using the G-suite tenant and onsite Exchange server were also added to the same environment.
Mark goes on: “The last school was not moved over until December as we were unfortunately hampered by some third party connectivity issues – but otherwise this project would have been completed by September – so just a three month migration project.”
“With a consistent environment and single sign on for both staff and students across the Trust, it is now so much easier for our teaching staff to collaborate,” says Mark. “And for us here in IT, it is so much easier to manage, maintain and administer.”
All SharePoint data, OneDrive, emails, and user identities are on one single tenant. There are new SharePoint sites which are ideal for remote teaching and learning and there is a central address book where each individual school has its own addresses for staff and students.
“We are now really starting to see the benefits of cross-collaboration,” reveals Mark. “Staff can work with collated timetables for the schools, and all the teachers are in now in dedicated Teams to easily share resources and information, which is creating significant time savings and increased productivity. And it’s not just teachers who are enjoying the benefits. Even the Trust’s management team are seeing how easy it is to collaborate – for example all the HR forms are now in one place, easy to access and nothing is out of date. It’s a win-win for everyone!”
“The AspiraCloud team are really knowledgeable in both Microsoft 365 and the Education sector,” Mark concludes. “They confidently gave us clear recommendations how we should approach our cloud migration project and helped us smoothly and swiftly move masses of data onto one single tenant. Nothing was too much trouble, and we are already enjoying the benefits of a consistent cloud environment.”
Based on the success of the migration project, Bridge Academy Trust will be liaising with the AspiraCloud consultancy team to understand best practices and hear their recommendations around the introduction of Microsoft Endpoint Manager and Intune to securely manage devices across the Trust.
If you want to find out more or do the same for your school, simply get in touch.