Thank you, Lourdes IT

Published by Matt Setchell on

On January 1st, I start in my new role at Concero, after 9 years and 9 months of my previous role at Lourdes IT and it’s predecessors, I wanted to share what a fantastic time I have had since starting the role – with a little bit of history and a few thank yous.

The beginning

3 weeks before my daughter was born, I was interviewed for a Network Managers role at St Bede’s by (1) Dr Heery🙋‍♂️ (@DrHeery) / Twitter – and was offered the role. I cheekly, as it was the same point I was currently on, but an extra 30 minute drive, asked to be put on the next grade point, assuming that the extra £40pm would cover the fuel!

I was excited to start a new role as the network manager, Dr Heery was a newly installed head teacher and after 6 years working as a technician under a network manager – I got the chance to make the decisions.

I don’t, it seems, have any pictures about the small office that was to be my first home. It was the comms cabinet, the server room, and storage room all in one. It did have a window (only to the corridor) and no ventilation!

On my first day, when I started, I was informed that the flashing server lights were due to a faulty hard drive, and the beeping was the UPS battery that had failed.

Within weeks, Dr Heery and I agreed to replace the network. What took me months of planning, ten years later the team and I could do in 2 weeks at much larger schools!

So we rebuilt the network, and all kinds of services that came with it – the old network (all in the handy cage below) was replaced and we had failover cluster and all the exciting kit that came with it, and still works to this day. I replaced all the PCs and put in 400 tablets, new Wi-Fi, projectors, biometrics for lunch and registration, implemented parent pay and online systems for parents to update details and see reports etc all online. I took the school onto social media ensuring parents could engage positively with the school, all before many others trusted it.

We invested in 3D printers, we rebuilt IT “spaces” to become dedicated IT rooms. We even got an office built, as there was now a technician to assist! From sports days and Mass on the field, to whole school outside discos, school shows, open evenings, a whole school radio station broadcast, and streaming the World Cup to classrooms, the 4 years at St Bede’s has some fantastic memories.

St Bede’s Catholic Middle school was an amazing place to build and implement transformative IT, the staff on the whole were receptive and excited about the changes and that IT was embedded into all the schools plans thanks to the leadership of Dr Heery, Mrs Woods and later Mr Roberts and Mr Payton as well as many other staff. Not every project was a success, but with the great team, we worked to find the best solutions throughout the school.

From communications, websites, online systems, behaviour, attendance, assessment, safeguarding, security, remote access and devices were changed. This impacted everyone and everything. It was a very exciting time.

Whilst at Bede’s I went through a divorce, and a custody battle – the school were incredibly supportive of me, and I will be forever grateful for the kindness and support shown.

As our work within St Bede’s started to be recognised, we began supporting other schools less then a year after I started – this allowed us to increase the size of our team, but we were still primarily based in the middle school.

As the team grew, so did the need for space, and we moved into the old caretakers bungalow from our previously built office within the school – where the growing team began supporting even more schools. A grand total of 8. During this time, the Our Lady of Lourdes MAC was formed, and we joined their central team, supporting all schools within our MAC pretty much.

The Middle

The St Bede’s IT Support Team was rebranded Lourdes IT, and with the exceptional support of the MAC Board and the COFO, we grew rapidly – including supporting all schools within the MAC. Externally we began supporting tens of schools throughout Worcestershire, including launching our own broadband service, MIS Support service and several other wrap around services.

Our Team continued to grow, and existing team members worked up through the ranks.

As the MAC, and our team outgrew the bungalow, we were extremely lucky to move to The Oaks office space in Redditch. Fully fitted out by the MACs own teams, this space allowed us to put on some fantastic events for our schools and our team for training, and allowed further growth.

At this point, we were big enough to split our team, and develop internal teams that could meet our schools needs, a dedicated onsite team and help desk team, alongside a project team were able to meet our growing customer bases unique needs.

Within 6 months of moving, and covid hitting, the team were able to use the facilities to push out thousands of devices to users across all schools and be able to work in a safe space to support schools through their biggest ever challenges over the last couple of years.

The End

In the end, we had around 51 Schools that we supported, with many having multiple products with us. The team, at it’s largest was 23 people dedicated to Lourdes IT, with many more supporting from within the MAC.

In the Summer of 21, the team helped the Magnificat MAC establish itself as it joined Lourdes MAC and Holy Family MAC together to follow the dioceses growth plans. Within 9 months from January 21, our team had brought together all 12 schools to one system, rolled out hundreds of devices, and reimaged thousands to Intune, migrated every school within the MAC to the cloud and implemented Bromcom across 12 schools. Ensuring some were now serverless, and that the MAC can now expand rapidly and easily to meet future plans.

External to the MAC, we continued to grow – and we helped operationally and strategically for schools to move their provision forward, both before the pandemic and during, with many adopting cloud quickly and easily thanks to the community of schools sharing best practice and success and our knowledge allowing swift deployments of known solutions delivered by a talented team of focused professionals.

Across the 9, nearly 10 years I have worked with this team, we have focused on simply providing reliable IT, that is exceptionally supported. We have moved schools and entire trusts to new systems, platforms, devices – each time making a positive impact. I strongly believe the work we carried out, in our not for profit ethos, has allowed schools to use IT systems that would not have otherwise been implemented or affordable.

In Summary

The credit for every success of Lourdes IT and its predecessors goes to those who have worked within the team, past and present. Everyone has played their part in the journey. I am immensely proud of the work they have achieved. Personally, after employing every member of the team – I owe a thanks to all for their contribution to the teams success.

Of course, without the faith of the schools and their staff that allowed us to support them – from when we first started out and as we grew (and, we only had 1 school leave us over the 9 years to join a MAT) – we wouldn’t have been able to provide the service we did. Many recommended us to other schools and were fundamentally important in our success. A huge personal thanks from me to all schools I have had the pleasure of working with over the years.

I have really enjoyed the opportunities that I have been given in my time, from Dr Heery allowing me to rebuild the first network and beyond. The Governors, Directors and Senior Leadership throughout have been incredibly supportive, and have allowed us to support so many – letting education help education.

Personally, I am extremely lucky to have worked with great team members, but also great support and trust from my line managers. I am very grateful for my time working with every colleague.

Excitingly, my new role offers me the opportunity to build on the success of my time with Lourdes IT. But more on that in the new year.

To the future!

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