Use Office 365 as your Free VLE

Office 365 Groups in Schools

What are Office 365 Groups
Office 365 Groups connect Users, Content and Conversations across Office 365, providing an integrated experience that links together file storage, calendar event management and email conversations.

  • Files – File storage for Office 365 Groups is accessed through OneDrive for Business, using a dedicated document library connected to the Group.
  • Calendar – Office 365 Groups help you to track all your group events in one place, visible to everyone in the group.
  • Conversations – Group conversations are stored in a single mailbox, separate from individual users’ mailboxes. You can easily start a new conversation with Group members or reply inline to a

Issue for Schools
The creation and maintenance of Office 365 Groups is a manual process, considerably restricting adoption by schools, especially at Class level, due to the significant volume and regularity of the required updates.

Ruler Connect can automatically create and maintain Office 365 Groups down to Class level, using the information already held in Capita SIMS.

Schools can utilise the powerful collaboration tools of Office 365 Groups, without worrying about the security and user access.

More Information

Connecting Office 365 with Capita SIMS

Case Study: Connecting Office 365 with Capita SIMS to improve security, accuracy and efficiency


Holmfirth High School is a large secondary school supporting 1,300 pupils in Holmfirth, West Yorkshire.


Office 365 offers a full range of features and the familiar Microsoft Office applications accessible from any internet connected device. Holmfirth High wanted to access the rich feature set of Office 365 and was needing to automatically create users, assign licences and populate email distribution lists and calendar timetables with the data it already held within its existing Capita SIMS management information system.

Holmfirth High had already identified that there were significant problems manually administering elements of these processes and were keen to explore the opportunity of integrating with Capita SIMS to provide a fully automated solution to maximise security, accuracy and efficiency.


Microsoft Education Partner and Capita SIMS Technical Partner, Ruler, who specialise in Connecting Office 365 with Capita SIMS worked closely with Holmfirth High to understand the schools specific requirements and recommended their Ruler Connect product, which can be downloaded and installed in minutes.


Office 365 means teachers and students can choose when and where they work and from which device. From a school point of view, it provides a leading edge platform, while achieving a substantial reduction in costs, from licensing to implementation and maintenance.

Ensuring that each staff member and each student is automatically synchronised and has the appropriate security rights in Office 365, is a major step towards a more secure, integrated and collaborative way of working.

Chris Langstaff, the VLE Administrator at Holmfirth High explains:

“The integration and automation of the processes using Ruler Connect significantly increases productivity especially at the beginning of the academic year, when we need to register all the new students and assign Office 365 licenses”.

“We also wanted the ability to automate the creation and management of our email distribution lists in Office 365, specifically at the year group and class level, which we were struggling to undertake effectively manually”

“These lists were always out of date, with emails regularly being sent to users who were either no longer in the relevant group or not received by users who had recently joined the group.”

“The Ruler Connect product keeps these lists automatically up to date and also provides us with the ability to schedule when and for who these lists are created, putting us in complete control”.

“We also wanted accurate online calendars for each staff member and student showing their individual timetable, lunch, and break times, to achieve better internal efficiency and full transparency, so that everyone could manage their day in a more effective and efficient manner”.

“We chose Office 365 because the suite was familiar to our users, which made it much easier to adopt and use on a daily basis and again, the Ruler Connect product puts us in complete control, allowing us to configure when, for who and for what period the timetables are produced”.

“Ruler Connect comes with a range of additional features which we will also be considering in due course, including the ability to automatically create and maintain SharePoint groups, allowing us to secure SharePoint sites down to class level, as well as the ability to create and maintain the new Office 365 Groups, which are ideal for class collaboration, with each group having its own dedicated storage, shared calendar and mailbox”.

“The different elements which make up Office 365 creates an environment for improved collaboration between teachers and students, more effective communications and the way in which materials are distributed”.

“Using Ruler Connect has allowed us to automate users, groups and elements of the security, saving us a considerable amount of time and effort and maximising the adoption and subsequent benefits of Office 365”.

More Information