Sixth-form college wins national award for making virtual lessons a reality with MS Lync


Cambridge independent sixth-form college CCSS (Cambridge Centre for Sixth-form Studies) has won a national award for an initiative that is bringing virtual lessons to schools across the world.

The standard of entries in the IT category was really high, but the submission from CCSS really was outstanding.
- Angie Shatford of the ISA

The college’s Cambridge-e won the IT Innovation category in the first ever awards from the ISA (Independent Schools Association), the professional body for independent school headteachers. Cambridge-e is a liveonline teaching programme that brings an additional range of GCSE options to other schools via a virtual classroom with teacher and pupils sharing real-time fully interactive lessons.

The online teaching programme provides interactive teaching using Microsoft Lync. It also uses Microsoft cloud services to enable students to access, edit and share GCSE course information wherever and whenever they want it.

Microsoft Lync was first implemented in CCSS in 2012. Having taken the decision to invest in a more modern and efficient telephony system, CCSS’s Principal, Stuart Nicholson, asked 1Plex to investigate appropriate options. 1Plex personnel have been involved in implementing Information Technology and Communications (ITC) at CCSS for many years and are specialists in Unified Communications. 1Plex evaluated a number of options, before recommending Microsoft Lync Server 2010.

As well as providing numerous capabilities such as instant messaging, presence awareness, file transfer, desktop sharing, peer-to-peer and multiparty voice and video calling, and audio, video and web conferencing, it has also made the virtual classroom a reality.

The CCSS entry stood out in what was a very strong category said the judges. “The standard of entries in the IT category was really high, but the submission from CCSS really was outstanding,” said Angie Shatford of the ISA. “Their Cambridge-e initiative is ground-breaking, and offers a fantastic opportunity for collaborative working with other schools.”

Says CCSS Principal Stuart Nicholson: “We began the pilot programme just 20 months ago, and after just a year of teaching we had our first successes, with two pupils from St Nicholas School in Harlow securing an A and A* in GCSE psychology. In the current academic year we have pupils taking maths, geography, English, and computing, in addition to psychology – and our most distant pupils are in Omsk, in Siberia! We are delighted that ISA have recognised the ground-breaking initiative that we’re taking, and we’re proud that it is coming from one of the world’s premier academic locations. It’s a real vote of confidence in CCSS and in its partner schools that have established Cambridge-e.”

Says Terry Ayres, Deputy Head at Saint Nicholas School: “Cambridge-e has offered my most able pupils the opportunity not only to study an additional GCSE but to also develop their independent learning skills. The online nature of the course offers a unique learning experience where each pupil feels they can develop at their own rate. I have been so impressed with both the high-calibre of teaching and the excellent teacher-student relationships that have been forged throughout the academic year. I truly believe that Cambridge-e gives schools the opportunity to not only gain excellent additional GCSE results but also an avenue to extend their most gifted students.”



1plex is a certified Microsoft Gold Partner with the aim to be the provider of choice for the design, implementation and support of Microsoft Teams Platform and Poly audio/video solutions. Our focus is on delivering fully integrated solutions to ensure that our customers obtain the maximum benefit from Unified Communications.

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