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Microsoft renews schools agreement, focus on boosting cybersecurity

By Shannon Williams, Thu 30 Sep 21

Microsoft New Zealand has welcomed the three-year renewal of its schools agreement with the Ministry of Education, with a new focus on boosting cybersecurity.

The agreement will provide all state and state-integrated schools with free A3 licences for core Microsoft software such as Microsoft 365, Minecraft: Education Edition and Windows 10 and above.

Microsoft Teams, OneNote, Forms and other applications allow teachers to build a collaborative hybrid classroom that empowers learners to work together and access resources, and for teachers to quickly assess their learning and provide individualised feedback.

In addition, schools who have already adopted cloud security and protection technologies can apply for fully-funded A5 licences that provide more intensive security management and advanced compliance on all school-owned devices, with additional analytics tools (through Power BI). 

The A5 licences include Microsoft Defender for Endpoint, a cloud-based solution designed to help school networks prevent, detect, investigate and respond to advanced threats.

The renewed Microsoft schools agreement takes effect from 1 January 2022, running until 31 December 2024. However, the Defender for Endpoint security features is available to eligible schools now.

Microsoft is also working with the Ministry to provide free security training and certifications to its technology partners, to help schools roll out enhanced cybersecurity faster.

“Throughout our long relationship with the Ministry of Education, we’ve worked together to identify the issues that matter most to schools and teachers and provide the tools they need to deliver the best educational outcomes," says Lydia Kronawetter, Education Industry Executive at Microsoft New Zealand.

"With today’s online and blended learning models, security is a top priority," she says.

"It’s vital to ensure not only that digital education is useful and engaging, but that schools’ data is protected and teaching continues to happen in a safe and secure environment."

Dedicated online sessions are planned to update school IT administrators and leaders, as well as sessions for school IT service providers and integrators. These sessions will focus on the details of the new agreement, with an opportunity to ask questions and find out what support is provided.

IT service providers are invited to attend the first free webinar on 1 October.

Emma Barrett, Public Sector Director at Microsoft New Zealand, said she was delighted to be renewing Microsoft’s relationship with the Ministry of Education and empowering schools to provide safe, trusted online learning.

“This agreement paves the way for every state and state-integrated school in the country to enjoy world-class, enterprise-level security on every device," Barrett says.

"As more schools and kura across Aotearoa embrace secure cloud platforms and new technologies such as cloud telephony over the next few years, that’s going to give educators even more confidence to innovate in the digital space," she says. 

"That’s great news for teachers, for students, and for the future of New Zealand."

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