Johnathon Martin - Nov 7, 2019

Cloud Computing for Schools

Education providers in England have been encouraged by the UK government to consider moving their IT estate into the cloud. The recommendation was made by the Department for Education (DfE) in a new strategy for education technology which can be found here.

Alongside the new strategy, the government published new guidance to help education providers migrate to the cloud and address other challenges in implementing new technology.

The aim of the new strategy is to support and enable the education sector to help develop and embed technology in a way that cuts workload, fosters efficiencies, removes barriers to education and ultimately drives improvements in educational outcomes as well as to help businesses in the UK's EdTech sector provide proven, high-quality products that meet the needs of educators and foster a pipeline of fresh ideas.

The Department for Education has committed to a series of actions, including plans to speed up efforts to connect all schools in England to full-fibre broadband networks, which it said is necessary to support the adoption of new technologies, such as cloud-based solutions. It said that without the right connection to the building, education institutions will be unable to reap the potential benefits of technology. PrimaryTec partner with KCOM in Hull and the East Riding of Yorkshire to provide full fibre to the premise (FTTP) connectivity for our schools that enables solid connectivity for cloud-based solutions. We also have relationships with other telecoms organisations that can provide wireless resiliency to ensure that our schools are always connected and secure.

Ensuring fibre connectivity to the building is just the first step. The actual internet speed experienced is also affected by the technology and Wi-Fi arrangements in place within institutions. With the growing number of devices in schools and colleges, the demand for robust and reliable local networking and high-speed Wi-Fi is greater than ever before. We know that they can struggle with the interruption to teaching and the wasted time caused by buffering and slow upload, download and login times that accompany poorly implemented local networking and Wi-Fi.

At PrimaryTec we have been at the forefront of Education Technology for over 10 years and have a track record over delivering low-cost, but high-value technology solutions to primary and secondary schools as well as academy trusts.

We saw the potential for ‘schools in the cloud’ some time ago and developed our unique PTCloud offering to drive savings, collaboration and improved ways of working several years ago.

Technology works best in education when strategically introduced by skilled, and confident staff. The best leaders place a strong focus on how technology can improve processes and teaching, they build digital capability amongst their staff and achieve good value for money through their procurement. We know however that many leaders can struggle to know where to start with technology; they may be experts in education but are often not experts in digital technology. The same is true for teachers – we know that confidence and willingness are among the main barriers to adopting digital technologies, and that ensuring teachers have adequate training available is often the biggest challenge.

PrimaryTec offer free training as part of our PTCloud deployment and are always on hand to support teaching and technical staff to get the most from our deployments of PTCloud.

Many headteachers and governors are rightly concerned about the privacy, security and safety implications that come with adopting cloud technology. Leaders will have seen the problems that can come with poor products and poor implementation. Information and cyber security are fundamentally about understanding and acknowledging risks and working through all avenues to appropriately reduce them. There are examples across public services where serious incidents have arisen from poor risk management and practice.

Security is one of the top benefits of PTCloud. As standard, PTCloud includes a powerful and fully-customisable filtering and reporting solution. Powered by Smoothwall, the biggest name in web filtering in Education in the UK, all devices are protected as standard.

Why move to the cloud?

Moving to cloud-based services can reduce costs by:

  • Reducing licence costs – leading technology providers offer free-to-use cloud services, including communication tools and core office applications
  • Using cloud only user devices – cost effective and reliable devices, designed to link directly to cloud applications, are widely available and usually cheaper than the systems they replace
  • Saving money on the energy required to run and cool on-site servers

Cloud based services could also help financial planning as you:

  • Move to predictable annual subscriptions.
  • May see a reduction in capital refresh costs - for example, reducing the need to replace old servers.
  • Do not need to replace ‘cloud only’ devices as often, and it may extend the lifespan of older devices.

How are you using the cloud already?

You should consider:

  • what cloud-based services you’re already using
  • whether staff, pupils or parents are using unofficial services, where you are not currently using a cloud-based service
  • if you’re using services to their full potential
  • your current mix of old and new systems
  • what benefits you’ve seen by using these services – such as efficiency, access, security and online safety

PTCloud has all these benefits built in, as well as a support offering that is second to none AND a 3 year device refresh policy.

We think that we are the best in the business at what we do, but we would, wouldn’t we? Take a look at our recent PT Cloud case studies to find out how we have made a difference.

We Can Help

We have deployed multiple cloud solutions for schools in the last year, but we appreciate that this may not be an easy decision for a senior decision maker or board of governors to make. We would be delighted to talk to you all about the benefits that our schools have seen implementing a cloud solution as well as the savings that can be made. Get in touch today.

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Written by Johnathon Martin

A former teacher, SLT member and IT lead, now Google Certified Trainer looking after our clients as head of the Client Success Team