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Derby IT firm L.E.A.D. IT Services commended for going ‘above and beyond’ to keep city youngsters safe online

Derby IT firm L.E.A.D. IT Services commended for going ‘above and beyond’ to keep city youngsters safe online

L.E.A.D. IT Services, who are based in Victoria Street, Derby, worked hundreds of hours during the pandemic to ensure that school pupils could access their school lessons online, ensuring a smooth transition from the classroom to home when schools closed to all youngsters except those whose parents were keyworkers.

They also helped to source laptops and dongles for schoolchildren and, most importantly, they made sure that these devices were safe for use.

And now two city schools – Portway Juniors and Asterdale Primary School – have praised the efforts of their technicians, who provide valuable support to their schools.

David Evans, headteacher of Asterdale Primary School in Spondon, is particularly pleased with the help he’s received from L.E.A.D and their technician, Jo Fearn.

Jo spends five half days on-site at Asterdale Primary School and David says she is a ‘valuable member of the team’. She was integral in helping to install a three-tier security software which earned the school praise during a recent visit from Government inspectors, Ofsted.

David said:

“Jo is a fantastic ambassador for L.E.A.D. IT Services and no task is a problem for her. We value her experience, her diligence and, as a result of Jo being with us, we’re now aware of services provided by L.E.A.D. that we didn’t know of before.

“When Ofsted inspectors visited school, they asked me to fetch them a laptop which would be used by a pupil. The inspector then did a Google search for ‘how to make a pipe bomb’ to test the security on the laptop and, thanks to the software installed by L.E.A.D., this showed no results.

“Jo has also helped to get staff at Asterdale Primary School using Microsoft Sharepoint which is making writing the end-of-year reports an absolute breeze! We can all access the reports via the cloud, meaning that two people can work on the same document at the same time.”

At Christmas, when a covid outbreak meant that Asterdale reluctantly told parents that they couldn’t come into school to watch the annual nativity, Jo and technicians at L.E.A.D. helped to record a the production for parents and grandparents to enjoy at home.

“Knowing that staff could focus on helping produce the best nativity they could, without having to worry about videoing the performance for parents, took all of the stress away,” added David, “and turned a negative situation – I really didn’t want parents not to see the Christmas performance – into a positive one.”

Dan Houghton is Senior Information Technology Support Officer for L.E.A.D. IT Services and works with Portway Junior School in Allestree. He is also a Microsoft Innovative Educator Expert, meaning that he has undertaken additional training and sat a formal exam with the IT giants.

Dan said:

“Covid has changed the way we work and even how our children are taught. Some schools still use a hybrid way of learning now and I know of many schools who offer virtual or in-person appointments with a teacher.

“Part of my job at Portway was to upskill the staff, helping them to get to grips with Microsoft Teams during lockdown for class assemblies. Because they had knowledge of how Teams works before Covid hit, the move from in-person teaching to virtual was relatively seamless.”

Emma Wilkinson, Head of School at Portway Junior School, praised Dan’s contribution to school, calling him ‘a gem’.

She said:

“Dan has been working with us at Portway for almost six years and he’s honestly worth his weight in gold.

“He was just brilliant during lockdown and ensured that everyone felt confident using Microsoft Teams for lessons and assemblies. Dan empowered staff and was always there if there were any hitches. 

“He’s so much more than IT support, though; Dan is a valued member of the team and a gem. He’s even been known to clean out the fish tank!”

Emma explains that Dan’s knowledge and systems he had installed at Portway put them ahead of other schools when it came to a recent safeguarding audit conducted by external organisation Anchored, on behalf of the Odyssey Trust who have both Portway Juniors and Asterdale Primary School on their books.

“Dan explained to the auditor just how secure our systems are,” said Emma, “he explained of our three-tier security system and how we use online cloud platform Senso efficiently, tracking online activity and flagging up any issues.

“He impressed the auditors and the feedback we received was so positive.”

L.E.A.D. IT Services, founded by director Lee Jepson – who was named one of the 50 most influential people in education technology by EdTech magazine earlier this year - specialise in working with schools and multi-academy trusts.

As well as working closely with the L.E.A.D. Academy - which includes Da Vinci Academy in Breadsall and Noel-Baker Academy - they work with East Midlands-based Reach2 and Embark Federation trusts.

Lee Jepson said:

“I’d like to say thank you to both Jo and Dan for their hard-work and being such integral members of the team. It’s great to hear from David and Emma and to know that the service they’re providing is so valuable.”

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