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Derby IT company launches new podcast and shares top tips to help city schools become more tech-savvy

Derby IT company launches new podcast and shares top tips to help city schools become more tech-savvy

A Derby IT firm has launched a new podcast in which experts share their top tips in a bid to help city schools become more tech savvy.

L.E.A.D. IT Services, which is based in Victoria Street, Derby, work with several schools and multi academy trusts in the UK including Embark Federation, Kingsmead, Da Vinci Academy and Royal School for the Deaf.

During the pandemic, they were inundated with requests from schools as they moved from in-person teaching to virtual teaching.

And now senior technician Dan Houghton has created a podcast for school leaders where he shares tips on how to create interactive newsletters for staff and parents.

Dan, who is also a Microsoft Innovative Educator Expert, meaning that he has undertaken additional training and sat a formal exam with the IT giants, said:

“Covid taught us all so much about what is important across our school communities.

“We all had to adjust quite quickly to a new way of learning – pupils, teachers, parents and carers – and there was a massive adoption and investment seen in the UK with regards education technology.

“It was an extremely busy time for everyone at L.E.A.D. IT Service, as we saw an increase in need for equipment which as well as being fit for purpose, was also installed with the necessary security software.

“Covid is still causing disruption in schools, and most have since embraced a hybrid way of working. With this new way of operating, though, comes the need to educate and inform teachers of technology and software available to them, which can make life a lot simpler.

“That’s where the podcast, where we share top tips with educators across the world, can help.”

Paul Burgess, head teacher at Charnock Hall Primary Academy, said:

“I had been looking for an alternative way of creating school newsletters for a while. I spoke with headteacher friends and colleagues and then spoke to Dan, to see what was available.

“We previously used Microsoft Word, which is a format to share the necessary information, but it was very basic.

“During the pandemic, written communication between school and home became even more important. Additionally, I wanted the newsletter to become engaging, easily accessible method of sharing news.

“Sway is so simple to use and Dan has been so helpful throughout. It looks professional and we’ve had some great comments from parents, who have been impressed with the new-look newsletter. We have also seen an increase in parental engagement with the newsletter, which we can monitor, which has increased.”

Embark Federation, which oversees 12 schools across Derbyshire, have also been using Microsoft Sway. Deputy Trust Leader Anna Upton said:

“Dan was brilliant; he created templates for Embark which mean that, now we’re up and running with Sway, we can simply edit those for future use.

“We have used the Sway templates to issue updates on school matters and to send out the results of recent wellbeing and parent questionnaires.

“You can also continually update Sway, making it a live document. If you make a mistake, it’s easy to edit and there are no printing costs involved.”

L.E.A.D. IT Services director Lee Jepson was recently named one of the top 50 influential people in education technology by EdTech magazine.

The former Noel-Baker Academy pupil said: “The coronavirus pandemic saw many schools – both primary and secondary – move to online learning with Microsoft Teams and the Government’s Oak National Academy enabling learning to continue during the national lockdowns we have had.

“This has ultimately led to a trend of extended learning and technology which can make new-age learning and time in the classroom more interesting and interactive.

“There has been a huge increase in demands for interactive white boards within the schools we work with, and teachers have been asking if we can help provide a ‘how to’ guide for them, too.

“Dan has been great in helping school leaders to successfully use Microsoft Sway and our technicians have also undertaken tasks such as installing web cameras into a few of our schools, including Da Vinci Academy, after they brought in duck eggs to give pupils the opportunity to learn about how they hatch.

“The school didn’t want large numbers congregating around the incubators, so technician Dom Fearn installed equipment so that everyone could enjoy the experience remotely on laptops and mobile phones.

“It was so popular, being viewed by more than 2,000 people with log-ins from many countries abroad including Australia, France and Mexico. It is great that so many schools are embracing technology in this way.”

To listen to the podcast, visit

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