A Monmouthshire business that delivers continuing professional development training courses for teachers and other staff in primary schools across Wales, is now in the position to expand after replacing its traditional IT systems and with up to date digital innovations to drive productivity.
Faced with the prospect of non-compliance with the new European regulations for data protection (GDPR), a major issue for companies working in the education sector, Collective Learning joined the Welsh Government’s Superfast Business Wales programme. 18 months later and the company has successfully secured its customer data in the cloud, enhanced data security and made significant efficiency savings across the business.
Collective Learning Ltd was set up by Colette Pitts and Newport City Council curriculum adviser Karen Mills in 2010 and runs around 100 training courses and conferences every year, engaging with more than 1,400 delegates. Through a network of specialist trainers and partners, the business offers curriculum-specific courses, as well as training in areas like educational technology, leadership skills and special needs teaching.
“Our business adviser was brilliant at explaining the technology in ways we could understand as lay people”
Although GDPR compliance was the key driver for change, the business has seen a range of additional benefits from its investment in digital technology. It has completed a major overhaul of its website, which now offers online bookings with a full e-commerce capability, enhanced its email marketing and improved engagement on social media. Since implementing the new IT system, the team is already making significant time savings that have freed up the firm’s directors to focus their efforts on areas like strategy and business planning.
“Our business adviser was brilliant at explaining the technology in ways we could understand as lay people,” said Collective Learning director Colette Pitts. “She broke down the options available to us and presented it in a clear way we could understand. After we developed an IT action plan, she also helped with specific advice and by signposting other areas of support that we could access.”
“We’re starting to get our heads around areas like web analytics and search engine optimisation”
Over a period of 18 months, Collective Learning migrated its core IT systems to G-suite, Google’s cloud-based business management software platform. The change not only ensured the company was GDPR compliant but also ‘future-proofed’ security and improved the way information can be shared between the central team and its network of delegates, trainers and partners.
Although she admits it has been a “steep learning curve”, Colette feels that the business is now reaping the rewards of its investment.
“We spent a lot of time thinking about the user journey, as well as implementing robust security measures and a user-friendly content management system that allows us to do frequent updates. We’re starting to get our heads around areas like web analytics and search engine optimisation, to the point that we can train up other members of the team and get them involved. This allows us to focus on developing new courses and materials, including the teaching of STEM content as part of the new primary curriculum and programmes that support the mental health of school pupils.”