ITEC and CSET have worked in partnership since 2010 – beginning with the successful introduction of a Managed Print service at one of the schools. Since the Multi-Academy Trust was established in 2013, the partnership has developed and ITEC has taken on a broader role, helping CSET to modernise its IT and bring to life the vision of a shared services model deployed across all the CSET schools to share back office systems and facilities.
Castle School Education Trust (CSET) was established as a Multi-Academy Trust in 2013.
CSET now consists of four secondary schools and three primary schools across a 15-mile stretch in the north Bristol area: The Castle School; Charfield Primary School; Severn Beach Primary School; Marlwood School; Mangotsfield School; Downend School; and Lyde Green Primary School.
How do you best bring the worlds of work and education together in a productive partnership?
The long-standing relationship between CSET and ITEC is an excellent example of how schools and the private sector can collaborate and build a flourishing partnership that continues to grow and develop even as requirements evolve.
One of the cornerstones of the CSET philosophy is a strong commitment to working closely with the local business community as part of a dynamic, outward facing approach. To stimulate collaboration, CSET has established an innovative Premium Partner programme – this has already helped hundreds of students enjoy the experience of working closely with the business community.
Business often complains that school doesn’t prepare students for the world of work. CSET view is that schools can’t tackle this alone and business has an integral role to play. The Premium Partner programme – of which ITEC is a member- provides business with a strategic way to engage.
The CSET-ITEC journey began when ITEC was first invited to tender for a project at Castle School in 2010 (which was before CSET was established). The school was wrestling with a challenge – it was over-spending on its fleet of printers and copiers. There was too much waste and inefficiency.
ITEC won that initial tender – it was the only company to recommend an innovative Managed Print Solution. At core, this meant ITEC put in place a flexible approach to managing the school’s complete print costs, providing project management and ongoing support. The school received a single invoice based on its actual usage.
Some of the innovation centred on the introduction of Ricoh office printers and photocopiers, alongside Papercut software that made it much easier for the school to manage its devices and to track and monitor costs. As a result, the previous waste and inefficiency were tackled head-on.
By the time the contract came up for renewal in 2013, Castle School was now part of CSET. ITEC took the opportunity to recommend a rationalisation of printing requirements across the Trust’s schools. The Managed Print model introduced efficiency across the board at all the CSET schools. From toner supply, technical servicing and regular reports, the ITEC team continues to work closely with school staff to reduce printing costs.
As the new multi-school environment took shape, IT at CSET faced new challenges. For example, the four CSET secondary schools ran disparate systems and this translated into patchwork provision where some schools inevitably lagged behind. It forced the leadership team at CSET to ask ITEC some tough questions How could the CSET schools achieve economies of scale? What’s the best way for a Multi-Academy to consolidate IT resources and boost the quality of provision? How do you effectively inter-connect multiple schools?
The partnership with ITEC expanded as a new vision took shape. At the centre there emerged the idea of a shared services model to be deployed across all the CSET schools to share back office systems and facilities.
In the words of Angus Smith, Head of IT at CSET: “Our vision has been to provide a sustainable, consistent and efficient service that will to a very high standard function for students and staff alike across multiple sites and using multiple devices.”
Innovation continued to be central to turning ideas into reality. ITEC has designed and built a private cloud in a CSET owned and operated data centre that hosts the IT infrastructure and provides a standardised platform. The addition of a secondary CSET data centre location has enabled business continuity and offsite backup capability.
Standardising on a single connected platform has raised quality across the board. Visit any of the four secondary CSET schools and the IT service is delivered to the same consistently high standard. And the new unified system is much simpler to manage and administer.
Seven years into the partnership, ITEC has continued to install and supported cutting-edge technology to support the CSET vision. Inside the data centre, for example, Nimble flash storage helps the school scale its systems as storage demands increase.
A CSET-wide wi-fi network provides connectivity. From the point of view of users, the system supports single log-in so both staff and students can move between sites and seamlessly resume their work, immediately accessing whatever educational resources they need.
Progress continues and CSET is very advanced on the journey to achieving a radical reorganisation of its IT system and resources. Beginning with a fresh look at its printing needs in 2010, CSET has maintained a partnership with ITEC that has done much to power CSET’s growing reputation as a leading force in the effective use of IT in education.
Smarter working at CSET has multiple dimensions. All CSET schools are now connected. Students get a single login that works across all schools and provides access to all required curriculum applications and material. Teachers and back office staff get a single login account that provides access to the required curriculum and/or back office systems. From the value for money perspective, we have much more efficient licencing of software and more efficient use of IT Infrastructure hardware.
We have a visionary CEO who is keen to push established boundaries. Working with ITEC, we have office technology and IT systems that give us the ability to change more easily. We can realistically look at new things without getting stuck in a rut. Agility is also about value for money – getting the most from our investment and making sure we are managing everyday tasks like printing as efficiently as possible.