Gerald Haigh, Microsoft’s freelance writer,  recently spent some time with Paul Hynes, Programme Lead for New Technology at the Specialist Schools and Academies Trust (SSAT) to find out how SSAT’s work with their schools and the way they are helping schools to take advantage of IT Academy, following on from the recent post I wrote on Microsoft IT Academy at Sawtry Community College. Here’s Paul’s story..

Paul confirmed Sawtry’s views on the way Microsoft training and qualifications enhance employment skills for young people.  His emphasis on ITA as a means of providing Continued Professional Development (CPD) for the IT technical staff and many technicians have no opportunity for training or career progression, and that’s not a recipe for a lively and supportive team focussed on support for learning.

For those of us who know, visit and work with progressive, learning-centred technical teams, it’s a bleak picture that Paul paints of the position in what he estimates to be about a quarter of schools – technicians unable to keep up with latest developments, with no access to events where they can learn and share.

“Consequently you can find dysfunctional teams. They block suggestions and ideas with technical language that heads don’t understand. There’s a real need for school and network leaders to realise that the job is changing along with the technology and particularly the arrival of the Cloud.’’ says Paul. “Already in the leading schools there’s realization that the technical people need new sets of skills on top of what they already have.”

The difficulty for schools, of course, is that they cannot see their way to spending the sort of money on technical staff training and development that seems to be available in business organisations. Microsoft IT Academy can bridge that gap, because it’s affordable, particularly for schools that are members of SSAT, who have negotiated very favourable rates for their schools. The prospect opens up for a school technician to be qualified all the way up to Level 4 as a Microsoft Certified System Engineer.

‘’What’s equally important’’ says Paul ’’ is that along with increased expertise goes an awareness of the appropriate priorities – that the role of the network team is to foster teaching and learning, and that all of their technical work is directed to that end.

SSAT and the Microsoft ITA.

The partnership with Microsoft opens up a really great deal for SSAT schools. For £560 plus VAT , half of the normal cost, a school has access to the full Advanced Level membership. Once up and running they can offer high quality training and globally recognised qualifications to the whole school community to include students, teachers, support staff, administrators, parents. They’ll also be able, if they wish, to offer business-class training to local employers. Details of the SSAT’s Microsoft ITA offer can be found here

If you are an SSAT member and would like to take up this offer, please quote ‘SSAT IT Academy’ and contact:

Marc Barfoot at

023 92415534


Microsoft IT Academy at

0800 9170758 or 0800 0960137