As schools return after a much-needed summer break, we are entering a very different environment. Never before has the role of technology been recognised so widely within an education setting, and we hope that this newsletter goes some way to help you in the essential job that you perform for your school, your teachers and the pupils that you support.
Schools return – despite 99% of schools re-opening at the start of term, DfE statistics suggest that as many as 400,000 pupils have not returned, although they claim that this is not just for COVID-related reasons. However as the first few weeks of term commence, more and more year groups across the country are forced to send classes home to support self-isolation. Also reports that many teachers are forced to self-isolate due to possible cases within their household.
Contingency planning –The Government issue new guidance for the full opening of schools, advising that all schools must have some form of capability for remote education in the event of local lockdowns. We are one of the DfE’s approved partners – working with schools to help them implement such a remote learning platform – such as Microsoft Teams or Google Classroom. If you are yet to put something in place, review our DFE Scheme information page, and read Case Studies of how other schools have embraced this.
New laptop scheme for disadvantaged children – the DfE have announced a new scheme providing 150,000 free laptops to schools for children in Years 3 to 11 from September (on top of 200,000 for Year 10 only, launched in April)
News from RM
Business as usual – All of our engineers have been working remotely since late-March – and many still are. Over the summer we have been busy installing new technology, updating hardware and software, and carrying out maintenance and essential seasonal checks of all of your IT equipment, so that you were able to hit the ground running from the very first day of term.
Case Studies – We have been interviewing a number of schools to understand how they coped with the Covid-19 lockdown and the lessons they learnt that may be useful to you and your colleagues. Bookmark our blog, as more are added each week. If you would like to tell your story and be added to this library, let us know.
Office 365 Pro Plus now available on CC4 networks
Microsoft Office 365 ProPlus integration pack is now available for all CC4 customers. This product is the cloud version of the Microsoft Office Suite and the integration pack provides an easy way to install the desktop apps onto your CC4 network. The package uses the “install on demand” approach (so the software is downloaded to a share on a chosen server and then deployed to the computers from there). You need appropriate licensing for your users (A1 Plus or above) and the default mode used is “shared computer” activation for O365. Multiple users can log on to the version of Office installed, but each must use their own, licensed account to do so. For further details, visit the Microsoft site..
Microsoft Teams package for CC4 We released an updated version of the Teams package for CC4 customers prior to the summer. This allows the application to self-update as well as fixing the plug-in for Outlook. Please see TEC7109139 for more details.
This remote access tool is now at end of life. We recommend that any customers still using this, move to a Cloud platform (e.g. Microsoft or Google) to facilitate this remote work access. The DfE initiative allows schools without a Cloud presence to get funding to help with this. For example, working with Microsoft O365 you would use OneDrive for user data (and remember that CC4 customers can use the CC4 OneDrive Mapper to help show this data when users are in school). Microsoft Teams could then be used for shared data (either in public or private Teams).
Important Security Updates
The DfE in association with the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) – part of GCHQ – recently wrote to all schools following an increase in ransomware attacks since lockdown began – as ever our main advice on this can be found in the following article: NWS5073225. Continue to be vigilant against these attacks and ensure that your backups are running and valid.
DNS 'wormable flaw' and Netlogon vulnerabilities
In July (DNS) and August (Netlogon) we saw two critical advisories released from Microsoft relating to the DNS and Netlogon technologies. For these types of vulnerabilities, particularly if they need to be patched quickly, we create support articles:
NWS7394520 - ‘Wormable’ DNS server vulnerability (July 2020)
NWS7429012 - Netlogon 'elevation of privilege' vulnerability (August 2020)
The DNS patches should have rolled out and your servers should be protected – please check the article and your server status should you be concerned. The Netlogon vulnerability has two phases (initial patches that are released and an enforcement phase due in February 2021). Bookmark this article for further advice from us about this change in coming months.
Technical Hints and Tips
Crucial updates for networks, CC4, RM Unify, Cloud, O365 and Google