CEO of capital-based not-for-profit trust that helps schools to get the most out of technology discusses plans to expand into the education space outside London and the wider public sector
London Grid for Learning (LGfL) is looking to expand beyond the capital and work with schools in other parts of the UK, as well as the wider public sector.
The not-for-profit organisation was established by London’s 33 local-authority districts in 2000 to allow schools to access high-quality connectivity services at the kind of price only achievable via aggregated demand. Some 93% of the city’s state schools – a total of 3,000 establishments – are now subscribers. This allows them to access full-fibre broadband services provided via the network infrastructure of Virgin Media Business.
Over the last 18 years, LGfL has also expanded into a number of other area and, in addition to connectivity, now also helps London’s schools with cybersecurity, safeguarding, cloud computing, digital services, training and, most recently, procurement. Formally launched last month, LGfL’s SmartBuy initiative is, essentially, a purchasing organisation that has already agreed major deals with the likes of Sophos, Malwarebytes, and Cisco.
These have all added to the running total of £300m in cost savings that LGfL claims to have helped schools achieve since its inception.
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The organisation also provides services to 70 local authorities across the UK. Over the next couple of years, LGfL has ambitions to expand further into local government, and the wider public sector.
And, where the presence of fibre-to-the-premises network infrastructure allows, it also aims to add hundreds more schools to its network – primarily in the Midlands and the north of England, the organisation’s chief executive John Jackson told PublicTechnology.
He said: “If you take London, it is pretty much unheard of for an organisation to have retained its customers for this amount of time – we started in 2000, and we are now in 2018, and pretty much all the schools have stayed with LGfL. We have also heard from the Department for Education that there is a difference between schools supported by LGfL, and those that are not.”
Jackson added: “I am now targeting expanding by 1,000 schools in the next 18 months. If you want to transform teaching and learning, you really do need fibre. What is coming down the line – augmented and virtual reality, and streaming – you are not going to be able to do those things on copper. But a lot of schools outside London are still on fibre-to-the-cabinet.”
Keep an eye on PublicTechnology in the coming days for a full write-up of our discussion with the London Grid for Learning chief, with lots more insight into its expanding work in the areas of cyber safeguarding and procurement – including details of the world’s biggest ever rollout of one vendor’s networking technology.