Located in a beautiful 120-year-old Victorian red brick building in South East London, Conway Primary School is a vibrant multi-cultural school where pupils speak over 42 different languages.
The school uses SIMS extensively to track pupil achievement and ensure every child gets the support they need to make good progress in their learning.
However, the data staff used to make decisions about how to best help students was only accessible within school. This meant teachers often had to stay late to update assessment scores or carry out key tasks such as looking at the impact a drop in attendance might be having on the achievement of an individual child or group.
Staff responsible for admissions would have to come into school over the summer just to make sure accurate details of the new pupil intake were available on the system before children arrived in September.
The school wanted to give staff more choice in how and where they could work by enabling anytime, anywhere access to the latest pupil data in SIMS, so the decision was made to introduce SIMS Connected.
“Before, everyone who needed to access the data in SIMS to do their jobs was tied to the school,” Keith Robertson, the School Business Manager at Conway Primary, explains.
“We wanted to support staff wellbeing and promote a healthy work-life balance by giving teachers the option to work from home if they needed to. It meant they could find a quiet place to focus on lesson planning, or quickly check last terms’ attendance figures from their mobile phone outside of school if they wanted.
The move from on-site servers to accessing SIMS in the cloud via SIMS Connected was carefully planned so that teachers could still use the system when they needed to.
“The switch was seamless. Visually, teachers had access to exactly the same system and data they were already familiar with so there was no need for any additional training. The only difference was they could view and record pupil information remotely from any device,” Kieth adds.
“Even those staff members who were nervous about the change were surprised by how easy it was and there’s only been two minutes of downtime since we went live almost a year ago.”
Teachers can now leave in time to pick up their own children from school and then access the latest information on their pupils’ attendance or behaviour simply and securely from home, or wherever they want to.
“One staff member who had been struggling to manage laborious tasks such as data analysis during the busy school day no longer has to stay in school after hours to catch up,” says Keith.
“This has been transformational, saving around five hours a term that they previously had to spend in school after a long day teaching.”
Data can be viewed and recorded into SIMS from a mobile phone too, and as Keith explains, this helps with safeguarding.
“Teachers can take the register on their phone at key points during a school trip and the data is instantly updated onto the system in real time. SIMS is always there and always working.”
The business team can now process the pupil census from home, where there is less distraction from the typical school day. There has also been a positive impact on workloads in the school office.
“Teachers can now access key data such as pupils’ health information and parents’ contact details quickly and easily wherever they happen to be. They can run data analysis reports too without having to request them from the school office. This alone saves at least seven working hours every week.
Boosting job satisfaction
Time savings have allowed staff to divert more of their working day to other tasks which has contributed to job satisfaction.
“One of our administrators has more time to tap into their creative side and is working with teaching assistants to improve our internal and external displays,” says Keith.
“Another part-time member of our business team who also has a real interest in teaching has been able to free up three hours every day to work alongside staff supporting our early years children. This would not have been possible before as their main job took up all the time available.”
Cost savings have been achieved as the school no longer has on-site servers that need to be managed and maintained.
“We’ve saved £4.5K on IT upkeep, repairs and updates plus many thousands of pounds we were paying each year for external IT support.
“With SIMS Connected I only have to pick up the phone to the SIMS support team if there’s something I can’t do myself – I haven’t had to call them yet.”
1. Gives teachers the freedom to access SIMS anywhere, from any device
2. Real-time information instantly updated on the system
3. Boosts efficiency
4. No need for additional training
5. Cuts the cost of maintaining on-site servers