With a deep commitment to fostering a nurturing and inclusive learning environment, The Willows Catholic Primary School stands as a beacon of love, care, and educational excellence. Grounded in Christian values, the school strives to empower every student, teacher, and staff member to flourish both academically and spiritually. With a clear focus on individual growth and collective respect, The Willows provides a safe, stimulating space where all members of its family can thrive.
Like all schools, technology at The Willows Catholic Primary School remains at the heart of every subject taught in class. Managing this technology, making sure it is up to date and fit for purpose, is a key and fundamental part of school life. It can also be a bugbear. With a constant hunger for innovation, the school needed to find a solution that would not only be up to date but would also help to future proof them against the ever-changing needs of the classroom. Additionally, ensuring that centrally managed data, and easy remote access to files would help the team of dedicated teachers and staff to collaborate effectively from diverse locations.
The technology infrastructure, again, common in most schools is fragmented with many suppliers involved. Getting decisions made generally involves several phone calls, ultimately delaying an efficient outcome to a fast resolution.
Finally, how could the school embrace the future using the technology platform once installed?
The team at Western, worked with the school to develop a serverless solution. This involved using technologies such as Microsoft Azure, Intune and Office 365 which would enable fast, efficient remote working and seamless collaboration. We helped the school organise the files from the old server environment so that they could easily be stored and accessed once in the “Cloud”.
There were 4 key areas to cover:
As with all our projects, our Project Management methodology was used to ensure that the transition to the new Microsoft environment would be as non-disruptive as possible. For this reason, the deployment was completed over three phases:
Bob Wylde, the IT lead and Deputy Headteacher is no stranger to technology and was involved right from the start. Our team worked with Bob to map out the project. This meant that the finished product was a system very fit for purpose. Documents created at this stage allowed everyone to see what was happening: when, where, and perhaps more importantly, who was responsible.
Build & Testing Phase
Once the new Microsoft 365 cloud environment had been built, we worked with Bob, and a few select members of his team to ensure that the deployment was thoroughly tested. This not only gave the team an opportunity to make sure that they understood what the changes meant to them, it also allowed them to feel part of the project; ensuring that buy in from the team was exceptional.
Following testing, the migration phase saw all users, and physical server-based data moved to the new Microsoft 365 environment. All end-user devices where ‘Azure-Joined’ to provide central cloud-management and security. The project lead Jay was on hand at The Willows Catholic Primary Schools, to ensure that user disruption was kept to an absolute minimum.
The Willows Catholic Primary School now enjoys a fully Microsoft Cloud-based IT service. New leisure centres are onboarded with the minimum of fuss; whilst all their staff and pupils enjoy seamless, secure collaboration and document access using the full range of Microsoft 365 A3 features.
The school have also adopted the Microsoft Power Platform and Power Automate technologies to automate one of the financial processes that would normally have taken Bob a few days to complete, reducing this to a matter of hours.
Looking to the future; Western and The Willows Catholic Primary School are working together to ensure that they fully leverage the ever-increasing range of automation, analysis, and communication tools available through Microsoft Power Platform, as part of their Microsoft 365 subscription. At the start of the project, IT was seen as an inhibitor to growth; it is now an essential part of their exciting growth plans.
“From the very beginning, Western demonstrated their expertise and professionalism in moving us into the cloud. Their team of experts meticulously assessed our existing hardware setup, understood our unique requirements, and devised a comprehensive plan to seamlessly migrate our systems.
The transition from one system to the next could not have been any better. Western ensured minimal disruption and worked with partners within Lancashire to ensure all the relevant systems talked to each other.
The benefits of moving onto the cloud have been revolutionary. Our children and staff now have the flexibility to access all their files and applications from any device whilst at school or at home.
The support from Western was, and continues to be, outstanding. Nothing is too big a problem and the team are knowledgeable enough to find a solution to any problem – or request.
In short, Western should be your only choice for IT support or moving into the cloud.”
Bob Wylde, Deputy Head Teacher, The Willows Catholic Primary School