Holly Trees is a primary school which opened in 2003 and has 414 pupils on roll. It is based in the Clements Park area of Brentwood. In the school’s most recent Ofsted inspection, Holly Trees was rated as a Good school with Outstanding Behaviour and Safety.
The school has traditionally sent letters home to parents and has only just begun to use electronic communications. Holly Trees has been using the online parent payment system SIMS Agora since June 2015. The school also uses SIMS Financial Management System (FMS) and school meal management tool SIMS Dinner Money which both integrate with Agora, allowing the school to consolidate payments. On first implementing Agora, Holly Trees made it optional for parents to use the system for their payments – from September last year, SIMS Agora is now the only way that parents pay for school trips, meals and breakfast club.
Lucy Wicker, School Business Manager at Holly Trees, was key to its implementation and made the decision to choose SIMS Agora over other providers. "We looked at other online payments but the school were swayed to choose Agora because of its links to SIMS FMS – the reconciliation would have been so much simpler than going with any of the other providers. Lucy explains that the school was also experiencing issues where parents would claim they had paid for an item but there was no record of their payment in the school office. Thanks to Agora, these types of incidents no longer occur.