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Brookfields School is a community special school in West Berkshire with a proven track record of providing high quality and innovative education to young people with special needs, recognised regionally, nationally and internationally. OfSTED continues to judge Brookfields School to be one of the few ‘Outstanding’ special schools on the country.

Recently my manager Tim Bush spoke to Stuart McCarthy, Microsoft Consultant Services (MCS) working with Brookfields School to get his view on how adopting SharePoint 2010 has moved the school forward and continue to be highly recognised by OfSTED.

‘’One of the school’s commitments is to raise awareness on special needs in the local community and businesses. Some people from MCS were invited to attend an open day three years ago. We wanted to do something good for the school so offered them some consultancy time during which myself and a colleague, Tom Eddings, created a public facing website in an effort to raise public awareness of the work they do. This site was based on SharePoint technology which empowered the school to keep it up to date themselves and it has been a great success both within the school and externally, with OfSTED commenting on it in their assessment.

Since creating the website, Tom and I have continued the ‘Brookfields programme’ as a showcase of MCS work and readiness for our student MACHs and interns. Last year work was completed for a secure parent portal where student documents could be held securely and delivered electronically. This is something the school has wanted to do for a long time but was held back by their current technology. The original SharePoint solution was easily adapted to enable secure logon and document storage. The school is currently running a beta of this system with parents.

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This year we are using Office 365 Beta to create a staff portal for teachers and admin staff to collaborate, share and store documents relating to the school and students. The staff currently uses a shared drive on the school’s network to store and share files which causes issues with backups, change tracking, security, remote access etc. The new system will be accessible from anywhere so teachers can see the same system at home or on any school computer. They will have access to Web Apps for working online with documents or, if they have Office installed, can access their documents or calendars with a richer client-side experience. The system also supports their process of document creation, allowing them to select a template and link it to a student when complete. They can then check this in and send it to the office for approval. During the Office 365 beta phase, the school is trialling the staff portal with 25 members of staff. ‘’

Over the next 12 months, Stuart and his team will be working to continue the work they have been doing by providing up to date technology and solutions to help maintain and develop platforms for both parents and staff to continue support in learning.