Using cloud technology to provide internet services to schools

I am passionate about the opportunities offered by the cloud. And that’s because it has transformed the world. If you think of the modern experience of shopping, travel, and services like Uber, these are only possible because of the cloud.

It has enabled us to disrupt society and provide services that weren’t possible before. The rate of change is huge, and there is continual improvement. It’s this ethos that we’re bringing into education.

LGfL is actually going national. We cover a number of schools across the UK, including some in Liverpool, Sandwell and Hastings, as well as the Midlands, so it’s now more of a National Grid for Learning if you like.

If you think about things that excite children – AR, VR, things like Minecraft-all these things use cloud. So in order to get children invested in education, it’s likely cloud will be used.

Money is also an issue. Because of the economies of scale, cloud is easy for institutions to support. And it’s fundamentally changing school processes. LGfL’s ‘Let’s get digital’ programme has a strategy that is overtly driven by getting cloud to work in schools. We’re re-engineering connectivity for cloud.

Bundling services is also a huge cost-saver. You don’t have to be an LGfL customer to use our savings calculator. Schools can put in how many students they have, and how many devices, and the calculator will work out how much money they could be saving with bundles.

Providing EdTech is important, but educators often need continued support in implementing it to its full effect

LGfL has a team of educationists -former headteachers, educators, etc – that advise on the training and support that LGfl offers to schools. We also hold conferences, attended by hundreds of schools, that allows the community to share best practice, and to hear from leading practitioners from many different areas. For example recently we heard from Microsoft about security.

We also have curriculum consultants that go out to schools. They’re not there to sell, but to say “What do you want to do with this technology? How can we help?”

At the moment, as well, we’re developing a digital strategy toolkit for schools. It’s not quite ready, but we’re piloting it with MATs in London and Birmingham, so they’re letting us know what they need.

Our content portal is also a good resource to help schools engage in an immediate and easy way with what LGfL are doing. There are case studies and testimonials, as well as content within categories such as safeguarding, which schools can use to help understand how things work with an LGfL subscription.

We’ve also got a number of initiatives that help with different elements of digital transformation in schools. For example, the TechSquad empowers the tech side of schools and their support organisations to make the most of technology in the cloud. We’ve signed agreements with many SMEs across London and the Home Counties, plugging them into the best practice in education.

They’re the ones creating the edtech and supporting schools, so they need to be on the same page. We’re aiming to create a fantastic support network, through traditional support systems such as a helpdesk, but also through our on line video content, and these partnerships.

Barriers to schools adopting and successfully implementing EdTech

A good way to illustrate the two main issues here, is via the image of an iceberg. Above the water is what I call adoption, and below the water is absorption.

Lots of organisations buy tech because it’s easy, there’s kit everywhere in schools. But what many don’t do so well is to absorb it.

First things first, there need to be clear priorities and focus.

It sounds obvious, but a lot of schools don’t have a straightforward, clean strategy. Look at what you want to do, and how tech can help you achieve that.

Secondly, senior management need to be aligned with your goals.

The top-ranking people in the institution need to model this behaviour. On top of this, of course, needs to be continued professional development. Staff need to be up-to-date and comfortable using the tech at their disposal. A little bit of top-down implementation is important, but everyone involved needs to feel like they’re part of the change. Don’t forget to ensure that all staff have a say in what is happening. The trusted interface of a ‘digital champion’, or a couple of champions in bigger schools, can make a big difference. It allows people to be really involved, and to relay ideas and concerns from their colleagues in a streamlined way.

Finally, of course, finances need to be in order.

It’s all about execution here. Schools need to take a good look at their budget and see where they can be creative.

On top of these points, a big issue for many schools is the use of legacy systems.

A lot of systems schools are still using were designed for the dinosaur age, and can’t simply be ‘lifted and shifted’ into the cloud. It’s also important to remember that any digital tramformation will take time, and that not everything has to be in the cloud. Hybrid systems can work when executed well.

Regulation and standardisation

One of my more controversial thoughts is that, as we have industry regulators for electricity, TV, etc, we ought to have one for EdTech.

There is certainly a role for it, and although I have the advantage of being able to stand on my soapbox a little bit due to running a charity, not a profit-making FTSE 100 company or something, I have seen some behaviour in the sector that disappoints me. Regulation and standardisation could be very helpful.

The big cloud players need to be a part of the conversation, too. They don’t always make it easy to run their products on other platforms. Of course they want to protect their own ecosystems, but there could be more cross-fertilisation I think.

John Jackson, CEO, LGfL a registered charity

You may also be interested in these articles:

Sponsored Video


Upcoming FE Events

Advertiser Skyscrapers

Newsroom Activity

Kirklees College added a new event 1 hour

Kirklees College 16-18 Virtual Open Days

Open to Year 11 students, parents and carers and applicants, the Virtual Open Days will take place over two days on Tuesday 29 June and Wednesday 30...

  • Tuesday, 29 June 2021 05:00 PM
  • Kirklees College
Alicia has published a new article: How to Keep Your Hybrid Workforce Engaged 16 hours 48 minutes ago

Latest Education News

Further Education News

The FE News Channel gives you the latest education news and updates on emerging education strategies and the #FutureofEducation and the #FutureofWork.

Providing trustworthy and positive Further Education news and views since 2003, we are a digital news channel with a mixture of written word articles, podcasts and videos. Our specialisation is providing you with a mixture of the latest education news, our stance is always positive, sector building and sharing different perspectives and views from thought leaders, to provide you with a think tank of new ideas and solutions to bring the education sector together and come up with new innovative solutions and ideas.

FE News publish exclusive peer to peer thought leadership articles from our feature writers, as well as user generated content across our network of over 3000 Newsrooms, offering multiple sources of the latest education news across the Education and Employability sectors.

FE News also broadcast live events, podcasts with leading experts and thought leaders, webinars, video interviews and Further Education news bulletins so you receive the latest developments in Skills News and across the Apprenticeship, Further Education and Employability sectors.

Every week FE News has over 200 articles and new pieces of content per week. We are a news channel providing the latest Further Education News, giving insight from multiple sources on the latest education policy developments, latest strategies, through to our thought leaders who provide blue sky thinking strategy, best practice and innovation to help look into the future developments for education and the future of work.

In Jan 2021, FE News had over 173,000 unique visitors according to Google Analytics and over 200 new pieces of news content every week, from thought leadership articles, to the latest education news via written word, podcasts, video to press releases from across the sector, putting us in the top 2,000 websites in the UK.

We thought it would be helpful to explain how we tier our latest education news content and how you can get involved and understand how you can read the latest daily Further Education news and how we structure our FE Week of content:

Main Features

Our main features are exclusive and are thought leadership articles and blue sky thinking with experts writing peer to peer news articles about the future of education and the future of work. The focus is solution led thought leadership, sharing best practice, innovation and emerging strategy. These are often articles about the future of education and the future of work, they often then create future education news articles. We limit our main features to a maximum of 20 per week, as they are often about new concepts and new thought processes. Our main features are also exclusive articles responding to the latest education news, maybe an insight from an expert into a policy announcement or response to an education think tank report or a white paper.

FE Voices

FE Voices was originally set up as a section on FE News to give a voice back to the sector. As we now have over 3,000 newsrooms and contributors, FE Voices are usually thought leadership articles, they don’t necessarily have to be exclusive, but usually are, they are slightly shorter than Main Features. FE Voices can include more mixed media with the Further Education News articles, such as embedded podcasts and videos. Our sector response articles asking for different comments and opinions to education policy announcements or responding to a report of white paper are usually held in the FE Voices section. If we have a live podcast in an evening or a radio show such as SkillsWorldLive radio show, the next morning we place the FE podcast recording in the FE Voices section.

Sector News

In sector news we have a blend of content from Press Releases, education resources, reports, education research, white papers from a range of contributors. We have a lot of positive education news articles from colleges, awarding organisations and Apprenticeship Training Providers, press releases from DfE to Think Tanks giving the overview of a report, through to helpful resources to help you with delivering education strategies to your learners and students.


We have a range of education podcasts on FE News, from hour long full production FE podcasts such as SkillsWorldLive in conjunction with the Federation of Awarding Bodies, to weekly podcasts from experts and thought leaders, providing advice and guidance to leaders. FE News also record podcasts at conferences and events, giving you one on one podcasts with education and skills experts on the latest strategies and developments.

We have over 150 education podcasts on FE News, ranging from EdTech podcasts with experts discussing Education 4.0 and how technology is complimenting and transforming education, to podcasts with experts discussing education research, the future of work, how to develop skills systems for jobs of the future to interviews with the Apprenticeship and Skills Minister.

We record our own exclusive FE News podcasts, work in conjunction with sector partners such as FAB to create weekly podcasts and daily education podcasts, through to working with sector leaders creating exclusive education news podcasts.

Education Video Interviews

FE News have over 700 FE Video interviews and have been recording education video interviews with experts for over 12 years. These are usually vox pop video interviews with experts across education and work, discussing blue sky thinking ideas and views about the future of education and work.


FE News has a free events calendar to check out the latest conferences, webinars and events to keep up to date with the latest education news and strategies.

FE Newsrooms

The FE Newsroom is home to your content if you are a FE News contributor. It also help the audience develop relationship with either you as an individual or your organisation as they can click through and ‘box set’ consume all of your previous thought leadership articles, latest education news press releases, videos and education podcasts.

Do you want to contribute, share your ideas or vision or share a press release?

If you want to write a thought leadership article, share your ideas and vision for the future of education or the future of work, write a press release sharing the latest education news or contribute to a podcast, first of all you need to set up a FE Newsroom login (which is free): once the team have approved your newsroom (all content, newsrooms are all approved by a member of the FE News team- no robots are used in this process!), you can then start adding content (again all articles, videos and podcasts are all approved by the FE News editorial team before they go live on FE News). As all newsrooms and content are approved by the FE News team, there will be a slight delay on the team being able to review and approve content.

 RSS IconRSS Feed Selection Page