Collab365 Q&A

277 viewsMigrationmigration SPOnline

#firstpost #SPOnewbie


I am learning SP, almost from scratch, at an alarming rate, but there is one area of Information architecture which I cannot get my head around, and I’m hoping to fine some guidance from some lovely people…

I work for a group of secondary schools in the UK – each have their own way of doing things, but they also each have shared documents on a file server which I want them to move to SharePoint.

I want each school to have their own space to properly upload and organise their teaching resources in such a way that:

  • The school who ‘owns’ the resource are the only school who can edit in situ
  • Other schools can easily search for and view resources which other schools have created.

From here, I am unsure how to best create the layout. From what I can tell, my options are as follows:

  1. Each school has its own site collection, and each department within the school has its own site
  2. There is one overall site collection, each school has its own subsite, and each of those are split into departmental subsites
  3. Same as 2, but each department has their own document library, not a subsite
  4. Same as 2, but departments are split into folders

There may be an entirely different taxonomy approach which I have yet to consider, but my brain is pickled – if anyone can throw any wisdom my way, I would be very grateful.

Thank you for reading this far. I hope someone is able to help me make more sense of this.


Multiple ways to do this. But I agree with option 1 as your best option. Not only does it handle permissions easier, but it will scale better than trying to keep everything under 1 site collection.

Each school should should get it’s own site collection, and each department will have its own site under the site collection. The number of document libraries can be determined by that department or by the school.

I would configure an Enterprise Search Center, which would allow other schools to search against other school’s site collections.


Hi Jonathan,

We’ve done a lot with the whole moving schools storage to the cloud from student and teachers personal drives to OneDrive and then whole shared storage to SharePoint Site Collections.

Before the recent update to increase storage from 1TB per site collection to 25TB, we were creating a site collection per subject per stakeholder(staff and open).  We have one customer who has approached this by cutting down their staff area so only their school can see it while all other areas are open for the multiple schools in the same tenant (and of course searchable through Delve).

Another factor to bring in is Office 365 Groups.  Could the staff areas be a group instead so they get a DL, mailbox, calendar and of course a document library.  Doesn’t work for students are they have write permission to the document library but may be an option to help improve the collaboration within the departments.

I’ve posted an example of the look and feel we promote with the schools to help them moving their data to the cloud.



You may find this checklist of reasons to consider one document library or many useful. I also created this a few years ago (which is still largely valid), it explains what you can control at what level.


You’re all amazing…thank you for your time.

There’s so much to think about – @alex-pearce I take your point about Groups (maybe Teams now it’s released to Education customers) and I think that would definitely be good for teachers; not so good for managing and governing shared documents.

Sidenote: it’s a shame you can’t manage the creation of Teams and associate them with an existing SPO document library…

We have since considered the following topology: individual site collections for departments cross-trust with document libraries or subsites for each school…thus bringing teachers of the same subject closer, potentially, but perhaps over-complicates the design…?

@collab365com thank you for those links – I’m not entirely sure what I do with them yet, but I shall investigate!


Thank you so much @beau-cameron and @collab365com.

Mark, do you agree that the best approach is option 1 – a site collection for each school, and sub-sites for each department?