EdIS Newsletter Autumn 2023

Welcome to the latest EdIS Programme Newsletter. Our project teams have kept busy during the summer period to bring further developments in our transformational journey.

EdIS News Introduction

We have released a new video series of EdIS News Updates, in which EdIS team members will bring you regular updates on individual projects as rollouts continue. Stay tuned!

Strategic Partner and School Management System

We are pleased to announce that the EdIS project team are in the final evaluation stages of the procurement process to deliver digital services to schools. The outcome of this tender process will be announced this winter. 

The new service will deliver a bespoke, modern solution to schools that incorporates innovative technologies, tools, services and practices. This will include a new School Management System to replace the current provision. Representatives from schools will be part of the design process, to ensure the solution meets the needs of schools.

Walk the Walls

To date the EdIS Programme have rolled out 11 Walk the Walls events, a series of visual overview sessions to increase understanding of the EdIS Programme. Across Belfast, Portadown, Omagh and North West we welcomed over 350 attendees representing a range of stakeholders in the Education Community including School Leaders, EA staff, sectoral bodies and trade unions. We sincerely thank everyone who has attended a session so far and provided meaningful feedback and engagement to support future development.

Due to high demand, we have announced three final dates for schools leaders which are currently open for registration: EdIS Engagement Events

EA Connect

We continue to simplify processes linking EA, Schools and Parents through developments on EA Connect; with school admissions applications, SEN annual reviews and Further Education transport applications now accessible through this portal.

Since launching on 14th August 4,582 FE Transport applications have been processed.

EA Connect has streamlined the annual reviews processing, introducing digital submissions of SEN Annual Reviews last year.  Over 90% of schools prefer to complete Annual Reviews on EA Connect with a positive welcome from schools:

“I found the portal easy to navigate and a lot more efficient than the paper-based returns”.

“Great improvement. Excellent system. Has made the process so much easier.”

To date, 40% of all schools are registered and use EA Connect to submit digital SEN Annual reviews. Working directly with stakeholders, further system developments have enhanced scheduling functionality and user experience.

Online training sessions will commence 17 October 2023 for schools and further resources can be accessed by visiting SEN Annual Reviews (Schools)

We kindly request that schools keep us informed of any staff access changes required (both removal and addition of access) by emailing [email protected]

Nursery School and Nursery Unit Connectivity

Work is continuing to ensure that all 93 Statutory Nursery Schools have access to a reliable high-speed broadband for improved performance and connectivity, which will enable all schools to access a wide range of C2k/EdIS products and services. Over 60 nursery schools have now been provided with new cabling infrastructure and more than 30 with their broadband installed, awaiting the installation of their new Cisco Meraki Wi-Fi which is being rolled out across the entire school estate.

Each school's installation will follow the process below with all sites receiving new broadband by March 2024, and new Wi-Fi by June 2024:

New EA IT cabling   >   BT Broadband Delivery    >   BT Router Installation    >   CAPITA IT Switch Installation    >   BT Wi-Fi Installation  

Nursery Units are currently being surveyed to identify connection options to their Primary School and will be contacted by EdIS staff in the coming months.

Wireless Project

The deployment of a new state of the art wireless provision is rapidly expanding with 500 schools and more than 12,000 WiFi access points now installed throughout the estate.

Major strides were made in delivering the EdIS Wireless Project during the summer break, resulting in over 2100 Meraki Wireless Access Points being installed within 68 schools which provided unrivalled wireless access in time for the new academic year. We are extremely grateful to all schools who worked with us to allow access during the school closure period.  The majority of Post-Primary schools will have received their completed wireless installations by the end of March 2024 as we proudly work to deliver the biggest Cisco Meraki Wi-fi rollout across Europe.

NAACE

Last term we announced that the NAACE Self Review Framework was now available at no cost to schools until May 2028 and we wish to remind schools that they can now register to use the platform via C2k Exchange. This powerful school improvement tool helps schools to maximise their adoption of technology. Please be aware that the system has recently undergone a rebrand and is now known as the NAACE EdTEch Review Framework. If you are interested in this opportunity and would like further support, the Principal can contact their C2k eLearning Consultant or School Improvement Professional.

C2k

Back to School TPL in Digital Skills

‘It has given me some great ideas to help move my school into more of the digital age and get more use from my surface pro.’

C2K delivered a series of Back-to-School events in August, which were attended by over 1,000 Principals and teachers leading up to the start of the new academic year. Events focused on digital skills development using many of the applications available on the C2k platform to maximise use of allocated Microsoft Surface Pro 7 devices. Each event provided opportunities to attend a variety of focused areas, including sessions led by partners such as C2k Newsdesk, Just2Easy and the Amma Centre.

Successful sessions were also led by members of the Microsoft Surface Pro Teacher Working Groups formed over the previous year, aiding teacher-to-teacher sharing of best practice. Teachers from Nursery to Post-Primary schools benefitted from the events, with content tailored to suit each sector.

C2k is extremely grateful to each school that generously worked with them to host an event, enabling many more teachers to avail of enriched digital TPL.

Data Cleansing

As part of the Data Cleansing project, support is being provided to schools to ensure pupil and staff data is being held in accordance with current DE and C2k Acceptable Use Policies.  This process will also assist with migration to the new Strategic Partner and SMS solution and will help to keep schools compliant with GDPR regulations.

Key ongoing areas:

  • SIMS Data Cleansing: C2k Officers are continuing to contact schools to make arrangements to support SIMS pupil and staff data cleansing processes. 
  • School File Server Data Cleansing: Communications were issued last academic year requesting schools to remove data which is no longer required from within the following folders - Users’ Home Folders, Shared Resources, Private folders and Staff folders. Schools are asked to highlight the importance of these cleansing tasks to their staff to ensure GDPR compliance and remove any data that is no longer required, including data that should not be stored on the C2k network.

MIS, eLearning & Applications School Training

The C2k 2022-2023 calendar of training events came to completion with a total of 197 sessions delivered to over 3500 participants.

The full training programme for academic year 2023-2024 to support school administration & management is being planned for school leaders, teachers and administrative staff. In the first term this includes training for New C2k Managers, New Exams Officers, DENI Census overviews, SIMS CEFR Assessment and SIMS training for new administrators. Training in the use of eLearning applications such as Google Workspace, Office 365 and Just2Easy will be delivered to support TPL and enhance classroom practice.

Devices to support ‘A Fair Start’

By the end of September 2023, over 9000 devices will have been rolled out to more than 250 schools through all phases of A Fair Start.

Security in schools

  1. Password Security: an updated password policy was deployed in June 2023 to increase the password complexity level for all teaching and non-teaching staff.  This enhancement protects C2k accounts, and the data stored within.
  2. 100% of all school servers have been upgraded to the Windows Server 2019 Operating System, providing improved performance and security features.  Work is ongoing to complete upgrades in all Data Centres by end Oct 2023.   
  1. An extra layer of security is being added to the wireless solution in schools to prevent unfiltered internet access via 3rd Party VPN apps.  This not only protects the network but will provide an added layer of safeguarding within the wireless solution.

Have your say

Input from schools is essential to support and shape the new and enhanced EdIS services. If you are interested in joining current or future focus groups or in sharing your feedback and suggestions please register here EA's EdIS Programme Focus Groups.

EdIS Quarterly Newsletter - Autumn 2023

Last updated: 05/10/2023