Co-op Academies is a multi-academy trust sponsored by The Co-operative Group. Operating since 2010, the organisation has primary, secondary, sixth-form and special academies in Greater Manchester, West Yorkshire, Staffordshire and The Wirral.
Their objective is to bring students, parents and teachers together to strengthen communities in the north of England by providing better educational opportunities. Thanks to this work, they’ve been consistently ranked as one of the highest performing multi-academy trusts by the Government.
In 2018, the Trust received a £3.6million investment to fuel their goal of having 40 schools, with up to 40,000 students, by 2022. As part of this initiative, the organisation was looking for ways to continue growing and improving their academies and the work they do.
Following this vision, they needed a partner that would help them enable a better and more efficient and collaborative way of working and learning. The organisation wanted to move all of their academies to a new G Suite domain and empower teachers, students and admin staff to collaborate and engage with each other.
The team at CTS was tasked with migrating the Trust’s 23 academies and their central team to a new G Suite domain. Each of the academies had separate existing solutions, and these needed to be consolidated into one platform, but with each academy, securely separated from others.
After understanding the organisation’s priorities and long-term goals, it was decided that a two-phase approach would be the best fit for their needs.
First, CTS took a group of core IT staff and early adopters into G Suite. This allowed them to familiarise themselves with the technology ahead of the global rollout. After a successful migration, the rest of the teachers and staff were moved over.
In addition to the technical migration, the project involved a crucial change management element. CTS trained a group of Google Guides that would help empower staff with the right knowledge in this transition. These guides were spread across different schools and departments, and were capacitated to help colleagues make the most of G Suite’s capabilities after the move.
This approach was essential to achieve the wider objectives of the project: empowering teachers, staff and young people to work together for a better education. Now, thanks to G Suite, they’re able to share files easily, collaborate quickly and, ultimately, improve their learning experience.
Laura Mollard, IT Project Manager at Co-op, explains her experience: “From the start, it was clear that the project scope and timelines were very ambitious. The majority of the work was going to be completed during the summer holidays, where only skeleton, or in some cases no staff were available to support the project.
Under these circumstances and with the Co-op Academies IT team being brand new at the start of the project, the outcomes and the end result that have been achieved is testament to the experience, support and flexibility that have been provided by CTS.”
Dawn Boardman, Head of IT, adds: “CTS continues to be a trusted partner of Co-op Academies working closely to support the Trust growth plans with a proven and robust method for onboarding new schools into the central tenancy. The support provided by CTS is second to none with the team always on hand to help and support us.”