St. Bede CE Primary Academy, Bolton

Securing and safeguarding St. Bede's IT estate using Sophos solutions

The Solution deployed?
We built an entire security solution for St. Bede's, implementing Sophos Central Intercept X, Sophos Central Server with Sophos XG Firewalls, Sophos Mobile and Sophos UTM with RED boxes.

Years Working Together

Response Rate
within agreed SLAs

Increase in
School Security

Projects Customer
Satisfaction Score

Students & Staff Safeguarded

About St. Bede's

As the name would suggest, St. Bede CE Primary Academy is a Church of England Academy for 3-11 year-olds. The mixed gender school in Morris Green, Bolton is rated Outstanding by Ofsted and is a well-established part of the community, as well as being the lead school in a small Multi Academy Trust.

St. Bede is constantly over-subscribed, they pride themselves on striving for a high academic standard, appropriate to each child’s ability and as a faith school underpin that with Christianity. Their mission statement is Learning, Caring, Growing Together because of their passion to provide their pupils with firm foundations and the conditions in which to blossom and flourish.

St. Bede CE Primary School exterior
St. Bede CE Primary School interior


Following Microsoft Forefront being discontinued in 2015, St. Bede’s were concerned about their system flexibility and reliability, but mostly they were concerned about security risks. There was also fears that a new solution could easily become costly due to their lack of specialist knowledge.

Their first step was to employ a new Head of IT, Karl Denton, who would start the search for a new IT security solution. There was very little in the way of IT security when Karl started, back in 2015. The Primary Academy’s concern about security due to Forefront’s discontinuation were well founded; there was no filtering, firewalls or antivirus. As the new Head of IT, Karl was facing a huge security challenge.

Karl set about researching and rationalising the needs of the school against the products available. He was also on the look out for an IT partner who could support the deployment and delivery of a new security system.

Working with Virtue’s to find a solution

Soon after starting at St. Bede Primary Academy, Karl attended a local networking event that Virtue Technologies were supporting, Karl approached them, and a useful conversation was the start of a long-term partnership.

Soon after the event, the school and the team at Virtue both began to investigate the most suitable IT security options for the schools and nurseries in St. Bede’s Multi-Academy Trust. Karl worked with us to trial and tested a range of products from various vendors.

Following their extensive research, the IT team at St. Bede Primary Academy decided Sophos was the perfect solution for them. The quality of the product, price point and Virtue’s expertise in deployment as a Sophos Platinum partner all factored into Karl’s decision making.


Virtue provided the expertise, experience and buying power
to maximise budgets and achieve effective IT solutions.

We spoke with Karl and the St. Bede decision makers to understand their needs and expectations for IT security. Following this, we recommended, and they opted to deploy, a range of Sophos IT security products to ensure staff, devices and pupils would be kept safe.

We then engaged with Sophos to begin implementation across the schools and nurseries in their Multi-Academy Trust, St. Bede CE Primary MAT. We carried out the full installation and trained the St. Bede’s IT Team, so they could easily manage and maintain their new Sophos estate.

The comprehensive Sophos solution deployed consisted of Sophos Central Intercept X, Sophos Central Server, Sophos XG Firewalls, Sophos Mobile and Sophos UTM with RED boxes.

Karl confirms that he made the right decisions throughout the entire onboarding and deployment process. Not only is he sure that all the products the school needs are now in place, but that he chose Virtue as the school’s IT partner through the process. “The security stack we now have is fantastic,” he says. “It all does what it says on the tin”.

St. Bede CE Primary School Sophos solution

The Sophos solution in more depth

Sophos Central is a cloud-based console and, as the name suggests, it manages all Sophos products. Intercept X protects against unknown malware, exploits and ransomware. The Sophos Central Server protects virtual and physical servers, it doesn't impede their performance and has a one-click Server Lockdown feature.

Sophos XG Firewalls expose hidden risks, block unknown threats, and automatically respond to incidents. Sophos Mobile is a Unified Endpoint Management and Mobile Threat Defense solution. For St. Bede it secures their 90 iPads and removes a lot of the admin from managing them, enabling the IT staff to spend their time and effort in more valuable areas.

Finally, the deployment of Sophos UTM used with RED boxes means the school was able to build a secure distributed network with the other organisations in the MAT.

“There are cheaper solutions available, but Sophos does much, much more. Sophos deploys apps and manages restrictions. It blocks apps and websites – it just keeps us safe.” Karl Denton, Head of IT, St Bede Primary Academy

The challenges the school faced, combined with how Virtue and Sophos worked together to help solve them is the reason why Karl is now a huge Virtue advocate and a complete Sophos convert.

Karl was so impressed with Sophos Mobile, that he now works with the Sophos Education Team to help them advise other schools on the uptake on Sophos Mobile. When it comes to Virtue, Karl still works with us today and has recommended our solutions and support to several colleagues in the education sector, who we now also work with.

The Benefits

  • Steadfast support and advice from Virtue Technologies
  • Continual Sophos upgrades with no IT team input required
  • Centrally managed security with an all-in-one place view
  • A small product footprint to avoid any negative impact on users
  • Easy-to-manage school IT safety and security
  • Effective blocking of viruses and dangerous websites
  • 1 contract and a single renewal date for the MAT
  • Costs that were within budget and maximised

The Virtue difference

St. Bede Primary Academy initially struggled with flexibility, Virtue were able to use their experience to improve network speed, working with Sophos to also improve the network security. The Virtue team’s experience connecting multiple site capabilities and data sharing with multiple users across sites also proved invaluable to St. Bede as we worked with them to deploy Sophos solutions across their entire Multi-Academy Trust.

The platform agility that Virtue have provided has given teachers the flexibility needed to really enhance and support learning. It continues the Virtue reputation for delivering joined-up strategies and cost-effective solutions.

Virtue provided the expertise, experience and buying power
to maximise budgets and achieve effective IT solutions.

Virtue Sales Director, Philip McNair said “We have a great relationship with St. Bede’s that’s been built over many years. We’re proud of the fact that our customers trust us; our advice, support and delivery.” He continues “Karl knows that if he has a problem, he can pick up the phone and we’ll develop and deliver a fit-for purpose solutions designed for the St. Bede Primary Academy and the St. Bede CE Primary MAT.”

We worked with Karl in order to ensure St. Bede Primary Academy have the level of Virtue IT support they require. This means they’ve adopted our Gold-level Internet Support and Silver Core Services Support. This means they receive a maximum 4hr response time and get the ongoing support of our in-house IT team structure which includes a help desk, technical support and team management, providing 100% class support.

Throughout the installation and ongoing, St. Bede’s have benefited from having a single point of contact our installation and support expertise. They continue to receive our continual whole school support with rapid response time and speedy problem resolution.

“We’ve come a long way and thanks to Sophos and Virtue Technologies we now have everything we need.” Karl Denton, Head of IT, St. Bede Primary Academy
St. Bede CE Primary School exterior new building

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