Cabot Learning Federation is a multi-academy trust based in Bristol who operate over 20 different education provisions across The South West. Comprising primary, secondary, post-16 and alternative provision, CLF supports more than 12,500 children and young people aged 3 to 19 in a diverse array of settings along with more than 2,000 employees.
As the Federation has become more successful, they have expanded and taken on more schools across the region. Whilst this growth represents a positive story overall, for the IT department, this has meant taking on the challenge of inheriting legacy IT and telephony systems in the various schools that join the trust. When CLF first approached Gradwell, these systems were still in place, meaning that across their academies there was a wide variety of different phone systems, some of which were still operating via ISDN and some on varying VoIP phone systems.
Erin Teucher, Deputy Head of IT at CLF, said: “Whilst our ISDN systems were low-cost, they could not compete with the benefits of VoIP phone systems, and due to the upcoming switch-off, they would shortly become obsolete.” One of the key features that CLF needed from its new phone system was to provide schools with the ability to search for each other within a centralised system and then easily get in contact with them. The previous set up meant that communication across locations was ineffective and migrating all the varying legacy systems across to VoIP would have been too expensive to do.
A colleague in CLF’s IT team had used 3CX before and recommended it as a potential solution. When comparing providers, Gradwell’s credentials within the 3CX field stood out to CLF’s IT team. Gradwell are one of the largest 3CX providers in the UK, together with The Technology Group, so this gave CLF the confidence that Gradwell has the experience and the technical expertise to deliver this complex project successfully.
“3CX offered the modern VoIP solution that we were looking for and Gradwell could provide the cost-effective option of scaling the system based on SIP lines rather than physical handset” added Teucher. This meant that they no longer had to deal with each school having a different system, they were able to enjoy the benefits of a consistent, VoIP-based, communication system across the organisation whilst maintaining the cost-effectiveness of the ISDN systems.
The migration over to 3CX has meant that as well as being a cost-effective solution, all communications across all academies have been centralised and all are searchable. This means that each academy can quickly and easily communicate from within the same system, saving staff time and effort when they need to route enquiries and effectively handle calls.
It has also meant that at one of the schools, the staff are no longer relying on their personal mobile phones for work-related communications. Teachers were often using their personal devices to make calls out to parents at the end of each school day. They weren’t able to remedy this, as with their previous solution they were billed per handset so adding more would have only increased the cost. As soon as 3CX was installed, they were able to roll out handsets into each classroom allowing better communication between academies, parents, and carers.