Supporting Cloud-Based Learning During a Global Pandemic With Automation

Excalibur Academies Trust

SalamanderSoft has partnered with Excalibur Academies Trust to automate the management of staff and pupil data in Active Directory and create and manage Microsoft Teams through Azure Active Directory. This has saved the Academy an enormous amount of time and money, as well as supporting learning throughout the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Customer

Founded in 2012, Excalibur Academies Trust is made up of 13 schools in four local authorities, stretching from Bristol to Reading. The multi-academy trust provides education to almost 5,000 children aged 2 to 18, priding itself on delivering a special blend of independence and collaboration.

Salamander is supporting the trust continue to ensure every student achieves and enjoys success by automating the creation of Class Teams in Microsoft Teams and enabling students to access everything they need to develop and learn.

The Challenge

Prior to working with Salamander, Excalibur managed Active Directory manually, which was not only time consuming, but also resulted in the data becoming untidy and unmanageable.

“One of the first things I did when joining the school was set up our partnership with Salamander,” Matt Evans, IT Manager at Excalibur, explains.

Matt had worked with Salamander during his previous role at Hardenhuish School, a secondary academy, in Wiltshire.

“Consistency is integral when it comes to things like creating and managing users and groups in Active Directory, especially when there are different schools within the academy, each with their own user groups and permissions that we need to manage.”

The Solution

Currently, five schools within Excalibur are using Salamander, with a view to provision each of Excalibur’s eight other primary, secondary and academy status schools.

“Salamander has also done a fantastic job of creating and managing our Class Teams in Microsoft Teams,” Matt explains.

The team has worked with Excalibur to set up and manage School Data Sync and Microsoft’s Azure Active Directory, meaning that all classes are set up automatically for teachers in Teams, ready for learning to begin.

“This saves hours of organisation and management; all our teachers need to do is log in and all of their classes are there ready.”

Class Teams was set up before the Covid-19 pandemic, however, cloud-based learning became crucial for Excalibur during the UK school closures of 2020.

The Results

“Without Salamander, the implementation of Class Teams and online learning during the pandemic would have never been possible. Managing users is a mammoth challenge and having a system in place to do it automatically makes it a breeze,” Matt adds.

Automatically managing users in Active Directory has also had an additional benefit for Excalibur as they have synced it with their electronic door security system. With each member of staff needing a keycard to access the school buildings, managing who had access was a time-consuming and tedious task for admins.

However, once the system had been integrated with Active Directory, adding and removing users as members of staff joined and left the school became a lot more straightforward, as well as more secure.

Comments from Excalibur Academies Trust

Thanks to Salamander, our schools have been able to continue to deliver learning outside of the classroom during the pandemic, while our staff concentrate on what matters most, instead of spending time on lengthy admin tasks

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