Prior to the unprecedented events of 2020, digital transformation was already taking place across primary and secondary establishments. The main aims were to drive efficiencies, raise standards and improve security, with activity focused on capturing and analysing data more effectively to digitise student records and measure performance. Then the pandemic struck resulting in national school and college closures, which have vividly highlighted the critical need for better connectivity and remote collaboration tools to provide improved and continued access to education for all.

To address this issue, the UK Government has introduced a legislation – Remote Education Temporary Continuity Direction – requiring schools to provide remote learning. This means that it is now the responsibility of education establishments and their teachers to ensure teaching can take place remotely when necessary, with schools assessed on their performance in the same way they would be in the classroom. To help schools accelerate effective remote learning, the Department for Education (DfE) is offering funding to implement one of two free-to-use digital education platforms – Google G Suite for Education or Microsoft Office 365 Education – using an accredited technology partner. However, the new remote learning imperative has seen some schools rapidly adopting a variety of additional solutions in a rush to meet the UK Government directive as quickly as possible. It’s now important to rationalise these and ensure maximum use and benefit is being derived from the free-to-use platforms to raise performance levels, safeguard children and save costs.

A number of key challenges have also been uncovered, which the sector has the opportunity to address in order to create an environment that supports and promotes ongoing innovation to continually improve teaching and learning standards, and future proof education. These challenges include:

  • Optimising budget spend
  • Accessing the expert knowledge to select appropriate solutions
  • Reducing current platform and solution complexities
  • Deploying digital learning technology to best effect
  • Maximising adoption and, therefore, effectiveness
  • Keeping data and systems secure
  • Addressing digital exclusion

The aim of this guide, which draws on Softcat’s extensive experience and expertise in digital transformation within the education sector, is to provide key insight to help you meet the above challenges and ensure you make the most of this important opportunity. We recommend focusing on the following key areas:


Now we’ve moved into 2021, it’s clear that the combination of the pandemic and the resulting accelerated digital transformation is changing education forever. At the time of writing (January 2021), the UK Government remains committed to its programme to fund the set up of the designated free-to-use digital platforms, which it wants to benefit at least 10,000 schools. With only half this number having taken advantage of the initiative by the end of 2020, the scheme remains in place, enabling eligible primaries to receive £1,500 and eligible secondaries £2,000. Funding for academies in trusts is capped at £1,000 per school. If you haven’t already taken advantage of this support, you may still be able to – if you want to find out more information, contact your Softcat Account Manager.