Finding opportunity in the midst of the pandemic
Bringing together dozens of far-flung schools—large and small, rural and urban—under Academies Enterprise Trust presents many challenges. Several of the schools joining the trust have a history of under-performance, and one-third are in areas most affected by child poverty. The trust’s mission to improve the performance of these schools, with technology playing a key role. In 2011, the trust began its Google adoption journey, adopting Google Workspace for Education Fundamentals as the single system for email, document storage, and document collaboration for all schools. The trust added Google Classroom in 2014.
“For us, Google is the great equalizer,” says Richard Sparks, e-learning strategy manager for Academies Enterprise Trust. “Everyone knows how to use Google, so it’s an easy leap to make. It reduces the complexity for people who aren’t technical. It was the only platform that could scale with us if we added schools to the trust, without difficult implementation or high costs.”
In early 2020, when the COVID-19 pandemic forced school closures around the world, the trust’s IT leaders saw another opportunity to add Google tools that would help teaching and learning continue. With Google Workspace for Education Plus, Academies Enterprise Trust not only added new capabilities that fostered remote learning, but also positioned its schools to broaden access to education content in the future.
A few months into the pandemic, the trust took advantage of limited-time free features in Education Fundamentals, and eventually upgraded to Education Plus. The enhanced features in Google Meet, including the ability to record meetings and to stream video to larger numbers of viewers, played a key role in the trust’s decision to upgrade to Education Plus.