LEIGH ACADEMIES TRUST

Leigh Academies Trust (LAT) was formed in 2008 to support and assist schools to build on their strengths and achieve rapid educational transformation. LAT is a not-for-profit charity and as a multi-academy trust (MAT) they benefit from greater flexibility to shape the curriculum and control their finances. LAT operates centralised services for Finance, HR, facilities, I.T. and business functions and all LAT schools work closely together to deliver their educational goals.

The Trust now encompasses 18,000 students in 28 primary, secondary, and special academy schools. Their goals set out in ‘Vision 2025’ include their strategy for developing students who can ‘harness the power of digital technology’ and a ‘focus on STEM and employer links’.

Cloud services supported innovation

Flexible IT infrastructure enabled agility

Shared skills and expertise and pro-active support

Challenges

LAT had adopted a cloud strategy to provide much greater flexibility and agility. Covid-19 highlighted to LAT, just how important that strategy was, because it meant they were able to quickly support remote teaching and learning.

Stephane Vernoux, IT Director commented

“Covid has highlighted how important our cloud strategy is because it has meant we have been able to ensure all our IT services have remained operational.”

 

Amongst their Vision 2025 goals, LAT aims to provide a device to 90% of students by 2025. At the start of Covid-19 pandemic, they were able to react very quickly and accelerate this strategy by purchasing additional Chromebooks and leveraging the DfE laptop scheme to enable students to study from home. Stephane added, “This was only possible because we already had in place the entire infrastructure to make that happen.”

As part of the LAT cloud strategy, LAT wanted to achieve the following:

  • Move to cloud services – IT infrastructure was 40% cloud, 60% on-premises in 2020. LAT’s goal is to increase use of cloud services to 90% by 2025 and to reduce Capex expenditure, ownership of assets and on-site costs
  • Centralise core services – to be able to access a single repository of data at their Farnborough data centre for all their back-office functions across their 28 academies
  • Increase security – to reduce exposure to attack by reducing on-premises infrastructure
  • Access skills and expertise – to work with a managed services provider who could play an active role in helping them pursue their cloud strategy and help them to streamline and replace on-premises infrastructure with managed cloud services
  • Support and intelligence – 24/7 support from a partner who could monitor cloud services and provide early intelligence to alert them to potential problems
  • Solution design and innovation – LAT wanted a partner with an accessible team who had a broad and deep knowledge of cloud solutions which they could leverage to help them to design new solutions and keep them informed of new technologies.
Redcentric has played an important role in helping us to design and develop our infrastructure and have helped us set up our cloud-based services, which provide the foundation for us to be flexible and innovative and support different ways of delivering education for students. At the start of Covid, we already had the IT infrastructure in place to ensure we could make remote learning possible, securely and efficiently.

How Redcentric helped:

Redcentric provides a management service for the LAT IT infrastructure that provides support, monitoring, patching and break fix contracts for various devices across the LAT estate at 32 sites, including their Farnborough data centre.

“Being a multi-academy trust gives us more freedom to deliver education in a different way. Our cloud strategy plays an important part in helping us to achieve this goal.”

Services which Redcentric have provided include:

  • Connectivity – for accessing and management of the services for LATs back office functions, including data storage at the LAT Farnborough data centre
  • Intelligence – remotely monitoring of the internet across the LAT estate to ensure communication upstream and downstream from the DC to their sites is assured
  • Pro-active support – monitoring provides early alerts about potential problems for the LAT on-site team to address as well as remote support when its needed
  • Telephony support – for existing VoIP telephony across 80% of school sites, using SIP trunks
  • Private cloud and VDi – virtual desktops provide STEM students with a virtual environment to learn to use demanding graphic applications or experiment with coding in a secure sandbox without risk to core infrastructure
  • Problem solving – direct line to support which enables specific problems to be resolved
Redcentric is the intelligence, and the proactive and reactive support for our IT infrastructure, our relationship with them is paramount, because they are looking after the infrastructure which is at the core of how we are delivering remote education to our students at the moment.

Benefits

Agility – We took the decision to move to the cloud 5 years ago, so at the start of Covid, thanks to our cloud strategy and the services and support Redcentric provide, we were ready to work from home. In terms of the actions, for us to take, it was an acceleration not a revolution.

Flexibility – Cloud services allow us to innovate and support new ways of delivering certain types of teaching, for example, enabling students to access STEM subjects in different ways which creates excitement and ignites the sparks which fire a student’s interest in those subjects.

Value for money – Moving away from on-premises services reduces my ownership of assets and instead of Capex renewal, I can reduce my on-site costs.

Expertise – Our relationship with Redcentric adds value to us because they openly and willingly share their skills and experience. Experience, which comes from providing lots of different solutions to lots of different enterprise customers. Redcentric gives us that time and that macro injection of skills to help us to design our infrastructure and then to maintain it. Even when it’s not part of their product development roadmap, we know we can draw on their breadth of experience to help us to find the best way to achieve our objectives. Our relationship allows us to draw on that expertise, with Redcentric bringing new ideas to the table.

Support – We want to focus on achieving our educational objectives. What is important to us, is the pro-active help we get from Redcentric who are analysing the data and providing us with intelligence. They alert us when there is a problem and advise us on how to fix it, then assist us when we need help to resolve it. We do know the team at Redcentric very well now. When something goes wrong, we make a call and it’s sorted.

 

“By outsourcing management and support for our services I don’t need to invest in every skill or try and keep abreast of every new technology. I can rely on the Redcentric team to take ownership of the problems and to keep me up to date with new technologies.”

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