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June, 2011 - Microsoft UK Schools blog - Site Home - MSDN Blogs
The UK Schools Blog
News and views from the Microsoft UK Education Team
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June, 2011

  • Microsoft UK Schools blog

    With the summer come the festivals!




    It’s the time of year where with the summer sunshine (well some), the festival season is upon us. Ok, so I wasn’t showing off my wellies and descending down on Glastonbury trying to make my way through all the mud and find a spot for my tent,  however I did  attend The Sunday Times Festival of Education along with some of my colleagues and customers at Wellington College , Berkshire.

    This is the second year that this festival has run and is already showing popularity with attendees growing from 500 attendees last year to 2000 attendees this year, continuing to grow next year with a target of 5000.

    Dr Anthony Seldon, Master, Wellington College opened the weekend festival with his keynote speech, describing how Wellington take pride in holistic education and the development in full of each individual student through The Eight Aptitudes and encourage all students who attend Wellington;

      • To develop their full potential academically, culturally, sportingly and spiritually

      • To develop into open-hearted and open-minded young adults

      • To question, to think and to work independently

      • To respect the views and beliefs of everyone in our community and beyond

      • To serve and support others at all times

      • To be calm and purposeful in everything they do

      • To help one another achieve the most from their school years

      • To prepare themselves fully for life after school

      • To become the person that they uniquely are rather than being influenced unduly by others

      • To look after the body, emotions and mind through proper rest, relaxation and nourishment

    During his keynote, Anthony Seldon interviewed a selection of students in a ‘’Question Time’’ style to give examples of how Wellington College has given them the opportunity  to use education to help prepare them for their future, going through university and into the working world, which is constantly changing.

    Some of his students talked about The International Baccalaureate (IB), offered alongside GCSE and A 'Level's, an international education to broaden the mind, ways of thinking in the bigger world, socially and now recognised at universities world wide.

    I was quietly surprised by how ‘’grown up’’ they were and under the spotlight came across as very fine, articulate young adults demonstrating awareness that there is a bigger picture once education comes to an end in the schooling environment and they join the world of work. The qualities that they take from the IB will no doubt follow them all through their life and coming across as outstanding young citizens, will pass these qualities on.

    During the 2 day festival, those attending were able to attend varying presentations with over 150 speakers including Bob Geldof, Michael Gove, Terry Leahy, Robert Winston  as well as Microsoft with guest speakers from some of our schools.

    Ollie Bray, Musselburgh Grammar School – Why computer games change the way students learn

    Mandeep AtwalSHOUT  - Inspiration to explore, connect and make a difference

    Dan Roberts, – A climate of change and being brave

    Isobel Bryce,– School transformation through partnership

    Stuart Ball, Partners in Learning, Microsoft – Connecting teachers, connecting learners

    Jan Webb , Partners in Learning, Microsoft– A classroom without walls

    Sir Mark Grundy and Kirsty Tonks, Shireland Collegiate Academy– Outstanding school improvement through technology

    Overall the festival saw some great speakers, interesting debates and a wide and varied audience from across the country. On top of all this success,  for once instead of the typical rain clouds often seen at festivals, the weather turned out exceptional as well. No wellies needed!

  • Microsoft UK Schools blog

    Fun, Free Forum – get your free downloads here!


    I woke up this morning and immediately the first thing I thought was, I did order the lunch didn’t I? I hope so otherwise I have a lot of hungry teachers, head teachers and IT network managers at Microsoft Campus today!

    So today was our ‘’Fun, Free Forum’’ at our offices in Thames Valley Park. A day packed with quick, sharp and some amusing presentations showing off some of our solutions and software. Many people didn't (until now) know that we had so much free software that can be used to engage students and make learning more interactive and fun in the classroom.

    If you came along today, myself and my team hope you had a good time and would like to thank you for taking the time out of your school to join us. We appreciate it is hard to find cover especially as many schools are coming to the end of their school year and also have the added pressure of exam time!

    As promised, here are the links and information to the software and products we had on show today for you to download and integrate into your lessons , so if you were not able to make today, no fear – it’s all here!

    SkyDrive and Office Web Appskudo

    Get online@home


    Windows Live Movie Maker 2011

    Windows Live Photo Gallery 2011

    Bing Maps

    Bing Search

    Bing Translator

    Community Clips

    Worldwide Telescope

    Small Basic

    Partners in Learning NetworkClippy

    AutoCollage – sign up to PiL for free download!

    Office Ribbon Hero 2



    Deep Zoom Composer


    Windows Live Writer




    Mouse Mischief

    Microsoft EES Licensing

    Microsoft Learning Suite - more free downloads

    Here’s the video that we made as a group – enjoy!

    Myself and my colleagues enjoyed showing these products and solutions off today and would like to think that there will be a Kodu or a Clippy in your classroom soon!

    Oh, and I remembered the lunch!

  • Microsoft UK Schools blog

    Survival of the fittest: how Kent County Council are bucking the trend




    Mark Reynolds (Schools Business Manager) went to the Kent County Council iT11 conference last week, and found out that despite what you might have read, it’s not all doom and gloom for Local Authorities…


    There has been a lot of talk recently about the demise of the Local Authority (LA) and the new government has said a lot about giving local power to individual schools. This has typically meant that decision making on IT spend and strategy is increasingly being placed in the hands of head teachers and IT staff in schools. When I first started working in the Education market, everything from broadband, to learning platforms, to whole school building projects were funded through central pots of money that were given to the LA. Now that Academies are becoming more common and councils are often finding themselves on new ground; needing to change the way they work and in some cases change the whole structure of their organisations. They have to think, and act, more and more like commercial businesses.

    Basic RGBIt’s true that in some areas, the LA seem to have somewhat “given up”. They are making senior Education posts like Education Director, or Head of Children’s Services, redundant and I recently heard a school leader say, of their council, that “I think they’ve now lumped schools in with parks and cemeteries”. However, based on what I saw in Kent last week – the demise of the Local Authority has been greatly exaggerated. Far from shrinking in the current climate, some LA’s are seeing the changes in our public sector as an opportunity for expansion into other areas.

    Last Wednesday, I attended the Kent County Council iT11 conference in Ashford. The EIS team in Kent have been providing IT services to their schools since the early 80’s and operate as a business unit within KCC. They offer a wide range of central services from the “traditional” LA delivered SIMS support and network management, to their innovative SharePoint 2010 platform Kent Learning Zone (or KLZ). Over 350 schools buy their services and rely on them to deliver a stable, reliable platform, giving the children in Kent the best possible experience of IT at school.

    So how have Kent managed to keep their schools on-board, when some LA’s are failing to? I asked Andy Sheppard, Innovation and Strategy Manager for EIS.

    “Not all schools want to go it alone. There are things we do with KLZ that you just can't do as a single school. You can’t do everything for everyone - schools like to have choice and do what they want to do - but still ultimate aim for them is to get all schools on a single platform. That’s what we started off with 4 years ago (when KLZ was first designed). When we get to Microsoft Lync (which has just been added to KLZ) all of those collaboration and communication features become so relevant again - schools can see each other, talk to each other, share and collaborate. There is still a huge amount of value in that. I'm a realist and I know that it’s hard to get all teachers using everything we do, they are busy people - but it’s about taking simple steps and adding things when you feel confident.”

    Jamie Pla, who works in Andy’s team, added:

    “We also give schools full access to SharePoint and a management console that lets them be in control. We are not in the business of saying no, about any of our services. If a school wants us to unblock access to Twitter, then that’s their decision. We are a business and they are our customers, but I’m not sure all LA’s are yet in that mind-set.”

    KLZ was part funded by the Harnessing Technology grant money, which has now stopped. This situation seems to be signalling the collapse of some central LA “learning platform” rollouts, so again – why is this not happening in Kent? Clare Hewett is Head of the EIS business unit:

    “When the central funding stopped, we had to go out and talk to schools and ask them to renew with their own budget (so far, over 75% of Kent schools have signed up, even though they now have to fund it themselves). KLZ is the platform to deliver services to schools in the future, and is growing and developing all the time. We have to make our offering better than the other options available to them, and also continue to offer our schools great service. They know us, and trust us, and there is a lot to be said for that – especially in primary schools who can’t afford to employ IT experts themselves. KLZ is a great platform that is scalable and meets the needs of any school from large secondary’s to small primary’s”.

    The political changes in the last year have made LA’s work harder and think differently, but that is no bad thing. Kent are not the only LA I have visited who still have their schools on board and are looking at expanding their reach. In a large number of cases, the Local Authority are still providing the best service, at the best price – so when making a decision about your IT strategy, don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater. Yes, things have changed for schools and you all face some tough decisions in the next few years, but there is still a lot to be said for maintaining strong local communities and that is exactly what I saw in Kent at iT11. So keep talking to your LA, and challenge them to help you with your requirements. You might just be pleasantly surprised.

    Mark Reynolds, School Business Manager, South of England, Microsoft

  • Microsoft UK Schools blog

    Open Government – Westminster Council and Microsoft Competition to Transform Data into Apps



    Originally posted by Leighton Searle on the Microsoft UK Government Blog

    All local authorities hold significant volumes of data, from information about population to the location of parking spaces, for example. The challenge is knowing how best to use the data that is available in useful ways to improve citizen satisfaction with public services . Westminster City Council and Microsoft have teamed up to run a competition for anyone who works, lives or studies in Westminster to come up with ideas for smartphone apps or websites that use publicly available data from Westminster Council, and other sources, to innovate and contribute to improving life for residents, businesses and visitors.

    Check if you are eligible to enter, then all you have to do is simply tell us:

    • What your idea is
    • How your idea will improve life in Westminster
    • How it’s different from anything else available
    • What data your idea needs
    • Whether it would be a website, smartphone app or something else entirely?

    The closing date for entries is Monday 18th July. All applications will be considered by a judging panel from Westminster City Council and Microsoft.

    In addition to the kudos of potentially seeing your idea put into development, the winner will receive an Xbox 360 and Kinect and the Runner-up will receive an Arc keyboard and mouse.

    All entries will be winners in the respect that your contributions will help us to understand the types of data that you would find useful if it were published. The competition is part of our transparency agenda to publish information on council spending and other data that is of interest to residents, businesses and visitors.

    Full details of the Westminster City Council and Microsoft ‘Smart Data’ challenge can be found here.

    We encourage you to get your creative heads on and come up with your ideas before the competition closing date of July 18th.

  • Microsoft UK Schools blog

    Interesting Links


    We all, I am sure, come across interesting links as we surf the internet during the week. With this in mind, we thought it might be useful to share a selection of some of the content we stumble across on a weekly basis on this blog.

    While we all love those videos of piano playing cats etc, the links we share here will be focused on technology in education from both a teaching and learning and traditional IT perspective.

    To kick start this weekly series of posts, here are 5 links that caught my eye over the last week.

    Have you come across anything interesting online over the last week? If so, it would be great if you could share it in the comments below. I will then update the post with a selection of those shared.

    Have a great weekend!


  • Microsoft UK Schools blog

    MDI Networks to demo SCCM (Free Event)


    MDI Networks Ltd are demonstrating Microsoft System Centre Configuration Manager (SCCM) on Wednesday 22nd June at the Portsmouth Technopole. This workshop has been organised primarily for IT managers.

    This half day workshop will give you an opportunity to hear from Headline Speaker, Clive Donaghue of Microsoft UK, about SCCM and see a live demonstration of the product.

    You can then relax over a buffet lunch, network and enter a free prize draw for a chance of winning a HP Server + Windows Small Business Server 2011 or a copy of Windows 7 Professional.

    Who is this workshop for?

    • People who would like to know more about Microsoft System Centre Configuration Manager
    • Organisations who already have SCCM and would like to know about future updates
    • Current SMS users interested in upgrading to SCCM

    Workshop Outline

    09.30 Registration, Tea/coffee

    10.00 Introduction by Steve Voller, MDI Networks

    10.10 Introduction to Microsoft System Centre by Sean Taylor, Computer 2000

    10.45 Tea/Coffee break

    11.00 Interactive demonstration of Microsoft System Centre

    12.00 Buffet Lunch & Networking

    13.00 ‘The Future of Microsoft System Centre’ by Clive Donaghue, Solution Channel Development Manager – Virtualisation for Microsoft UK

    14.00 Close by Steve Voller. Further networking & prize draw

    If you would like to book your free place, please contact Nicola Tuppen on 0845 226 8371 or email.

  • Microsoft UK Schools blog

    West Hatch High School - becoming that step closer to being ‘’paperless’’


    Remember the days when you would organise a school trip and not just have to organise the coach, but let everyone else know that for one day, there would be a large number of students and teachers needing a packed lunch rather than hot meal in the canteen?   Collect all students permission forms to attend?  Make a note of who have or have not paid? Send a letter out to each parent? The list of admin seems endless for a day away!

    Alan Richards, Information Systems Manager at West Hatch High School, wanted to put and end to the paper admin trail that a school trip can create, and instead have all information loaded onto Microsoft SharePoint platform using forms generated by Microsoft InfoPath. This way, all information including the original request, calendar, senior leadership permissions, checklists, automatic generated e-mails to key people including parents are sent out, risk assessment forms, and finance are all kept in one place with no danger of losing anything.

    It’s a further step on the continuing ‘’Paperless School’’ project currently led by Alan and his team. They aim to reduce paper and pricing costs  as near as possible to zero making full use of the software already available in school, especially with SharePoint 2010 and InfoPath.

    Back in the Autumn, the team had a big win when they moved all the paperwork involved in the school’s Academic Review process, four pages, twice a year for each of the 1300 students onto their SharePoint learning gateway and using Infopath to create the interactive forms. They then followed up by looking for other paper empires they could capture for SharePoint. They settled on the application forms that staff use when they want to go on courses and these are now also on SharePoint. You can read the story, along with many others at the eBook Saving Money with ICT by Ray Fleming, which featured as  a key theme for Microsoft at BETT 2011.

    It’s really important not to miss the point that using SharePoint provides visibility and accountability. For each of the processes that West Hatch now has on SharePoint there’s a complete audit trail, every step recorded, dated, and signed off, and any flaws in the process show up and can be ironed out next time.

    If you want to follow Alan’s lead, he’s very carefully and generously detailed many of technical steps involved going paperless with SharePoint and Infopath on his own blog,  Education Technology Now.





    I can only imagine that if this type of technology had been available to my mum when I was at school, she would have found a lot less crumpled up school trip letters at the bottom of my rucksack.

  • Microsoft UK Schools blog

    Join Microsoft’ fun, free day for solution ideas to use in your classroom – 23rd June 2011


    As part of my role here at Microsoft I love to show off some of the products and solutions with my colleagues in the Education team, many of which are FREE to download to then use in the classroom. The Times Education Supplement have some examples with ways and examples of how these can be implemented however I also thought it would be nice to do a repeat of the Fun Free Friday days Ray Fleming organised last year – some familiar products mixed in with some new and have the kudoopportunity to meet you.

    Are you a teacher, IT coordinator, technician or adviser at a primary or secondary school? Do you want to learn about the free solutions, innovative tools and classroom software that Microsoft to improve teaching and learning and have some fun along the way?

    We are putting together a FREE day at our offices in Reading to demonstrate how our solutions can be used in a learning environment, some of the products we have to offer, and have lots of fun.

    Demonstrations  will include Mouse Mischief, Windows Live Movie Maker, Photosynth, Stamp Add-In for PowerPoint, Office Ribbon Hero 2, Montage, Kodu, Bing Maps to name just a few. Come along and see how this software can be used to enhance learning in your classroom.

    If you would like to come along, meet some of the team, see some demonstrations and have the opportunity to ask us question, you can register via here

    We have 120 spaces available, so register today to guarantee yours.

  • Microsoft UK Schools blog

    Free Webinar- Using SharePoint 2010 to create a highly developed Learning Gateway for education.

    Many of you will have heard bits of the story of Twynham School and their creation of a well-established learning platform using SharePoint. Through various case studies and presentations at conferences around the world over the last 5 years Twynham have been very fortunate to be able to show  work creating compelling custom applications and engaging students and teachers to gain high user adoption. Mike Herrity and Dave Coleman of Twynham have had quite a break from presenting and writing up  work for nearly a year and so thought it might be useful to put a free webinar on to show you some of the new and exciting things they have done with their learning platform, SharePoint 2010.

    What’s new with Twynham School SharePoint 2010-11

    In this seminar we will take you through our initial work creating a highly developed Learning Gateway from 2007-10. In the second half of the session we will break out into new code the team has written which has not been shown to anyone yet. This includes:

    · A whole new ‘My Site’ development with custom skins which allow the user to create a themed environment.

    · A fully searchable SharePoint Knowledge Base for end users, admins and developers to support them working with SharePoint 2010.

    · A CPD (Continuous Professional Development) system which removes the paper chase from work requests.

    · SharePoint Rewards system which enables teachers to instantly award points to students who can see their scores in real time.

    Mike Herrity and Dave Coleman will be presenting this webinar live at 7pm BST/2pm EDT

    If you would like to join this meeting, you can register here

  • Microsoft UK Schools blog

    My First EduGeek Conference


    Just a few weeks into my new role at Microsoft as the UK Education Marketing Manager, I received an email from Chris Byers, founder of, kindly inviting me to attend the 2011 conference in Preston.

    For those unfamiliar with the community, EduGeek is a free online peer support community and information portal for IT professionals predominantly working in the field of education. As of June 2010, EduGeek had 31,000 members and is growing rapidly due to a large number of eager new international members, most notably from the US. I will update this post when I get the confirmed current membership numbers.

    I didn’t have much involvement with EduGeek during my time at ULCC, but had heard a lot about the great community that Chris and his team has built over the last few years. With this in mind, I was excited to meet some of the community members and learn a little more about some of the challenges facing the schools sector.

    So with the SatNav programmed and enough travel sweets to keep me going for a round the world trip, I jumped in the car and headed up to Preston for what I was sure was going to be a great conference.

    The conference was held at University of Central Lancashire's Westleigh Conference Centre, which turned out to be the perfect venue for the day: picturesque grounds, ample parking and an internet connection that mostly, apart from a slight blip, held up to the demands of a tech hungry audience.

    The perfect ingredients for a great conference!

    EduGeek Conference 2011

    In terms of the content on the day, it definitely lived up to my expectations. Like many conferences, it’s the people you meet during the day that make attendance most worthwhile, but content highlights included the following:

    Rick Byers (Head of Operations @ CTI Group) - The DPA Myths and Musts

    Rick Byers, brother of Chris Byers (founder of and Head of Operations at CTI Group, gave an insightful overview of the 'Myths and Musts' associated with the Data Protection Act (DPA) and how it impacts the education sector.

    Before launching into a breakdown of these myths and musts, Rick presented some useful background on the DPA which helped build a great foundation for the content to follow. The core element of which is that the DPA is designed to allow the free transfer of personal data whilst safeguarding that data, but is not designed to stop the flow of data.

    Furthermore some countries are more stringent than others with this responsibility. The UK, for example, is often criticised in this area and could improve. Food for thought…

    So with that background in place, here are the DPA Myths and Musts.

    The Myths

    • DPA stops parents from taking photos in schools - False
    • DPA stops parents from finding out their kids exam results - False
    • Aims to protect peoples privacy - False
    • Laws across the EU provide the same level of data protection - False
    • Personal data is private information about a person -False
    • You can process data freely if its already public knowledge - False
    • Only personal data of EU residents is protected - False
    • Only EU organisations are caught by EU data protection laws - False
    • You can easily get hold of all documents an organisation holds that contain your personal data - False
    • If someone processes your personal data without your consent
      • You can get compensation - False
      • They're committing a criminal offence - False
      • You can stop others from processing your personal data if you don’t want then to - False
      • Journalists and bloggers can freely publish your personal data – False

    The Musts

    • You must obey the law
    • You (and your organisation) must be registered with the DPA

    Additionally, here are the 8 core principles of the DPA and some other useful references by Rick.


    So to conclude, the DPA Summary is here to protect us, not hinder, and that we all benefit from its remit. We are, however, all bound by the act so folks can't simply opt-out at will. The taxman will have a few things to say about this, I am sure!

    Tom Newton @ Smoothwall

    Rather than present a deck on Smoothwall's range of web filtering and firewall technologies, Tom gave an amusing presentation on a selection of his favourite free web apps that the EduGeek community might find useful.

    I will take some time over the weekend to check out some of these in more detail.

    The other sessions by Adobe, LUNS, AEG and DELL were also very interesting, but these 2 session stood out for me in particular.

    As I mentioned in the opening to this post, I really enjoyed my first EduGeek Conference and look forward to attending the 2012 event. The content was great, but it was the community members that really made the event for me.

    Thanks again to Chris for inviting me and for the EduGeek members for making me feel so welcome!




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