A Digital Strategy For MATs: What You Need To Know | Cantium
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There’s no doubt that technology is helping to transform the way education is delivered. Yet, without strategic direction, can Multi-Academy Trusts ensure they’ll be using tech to enhance teaching, learning and increase operational efficiency? Cantium’s Education Lead, Mark Hodges, explains how implementing a whole trust digital strategy can help MATs keep the end goal in mind.

The adoption of a digital strategy is pivotal for Multi-Academy Trusts (MATs) to navigate the intricacies of contemporary education. Rolling out any digital strategy requires careful planning over a significant period, but at a MAT, the process can be even more complex.  

Running several schools simultaneously does come with some unique challenges. Each school is different, with its own needs and diverse age range of pupils. This means that MATs are likely to need to implement different technology-change projects in parallel across multiple schools. 

Many MAT IT teams still have the daunting challenge of merging IT infrastructure, replacing legacy technology, centralising services, and bringing about a whole realm of technical change. So, what should schools be thinking about when they want to consolidate all their IT? 

Find your starting point

A great way to start building your strategy is to conduct an IT audit or discovery – a comprehensive examination of a school or MATs’ current IT systems, infrastructure, policies, and procedures. The goal is to assess the effectiveness, security, and efficiency of the school’s existing IT environment and to identify areas for improvement.  

An audit will also review and assess network architecture, including; hardware, software, and connectivity, and look to discover digital strategy targets, timelines and limitations.

One goal, one network

Think about having one network across all schools. MATs often choose this for several reasons. It simplifies processes, reduces duplication, makes cross-institutional collaboration easier, and can significantly decrease costs. It can also provide a solid foundation for the long-term digital transformation and success. One network also means improved governance – you can ensure the right people have the right access to the right information, at all times.  

Short term benefits include shared resources, cost savings, security benefits. One network often means that you can roll out new devices with ease – simply turn the device on, connect to the Wi-Fi, and all policies, security features and apps can be downloaded in one simple step.  

In the long term, schools can utilise collaboration.  A MAT-wide intranet means schools can work together to share best practice, lesson plans, feedback, reduce workload and increase efficiency.

Adopt a phased approach

By taking a phased approach, MATs can manage the complexities of implementing a digital strategy, minimise disruptions, and ensure that the entire trust can adapt and benefit from digital changes over time.  

An IT partner will help develop a phased roadmap based on priority areas and will break down the roadmap into manageable milestones, and clearly define the objectives and expected outcomes for each phase. By dividing the project into manageable phases, it becomes easier to allocate resources, manage risks, and track progress. 

 Implementing a digital strategy across a Multi-Academy Trust is not just a technological necessity but a critical step towards fostering adaptability in today’s educational landscape., The DfE’s vision is for a fully-trust led system, with all schools part of a MAT by 2030, in order to make the education system more dynamic, competitive, and stronger. Having a well-structured digital strategy will empower MATs to streamline administrative processes, and enhance communication among staff, parents and students, helping to enrich teaching and learning experiences.  

A digital strategy will position MATs to stay abreast of evolving educational technologies, ensuring they remain competitive and responsive to the dynamic needs of students and educators, today and in years to come.  

For more information on how Cantium could help your school create or drive your digital strategy, contact a member of our team today.