/ Matt Bramley
Before joining the company early this year, I recalled hearing from schools that Bromcom was in constant development mode, pushing its products to their absolute limit. I’ve now worked here for 8 months and I can see how this is achieved through the Agile Software Development Methodology, alongside close engagement with our user community. Due to my primary assessment background at OTrack I was fortunate enough to be asked to contribute to the development of Bromcom’s new Primary Tracker product. Alongside ongoing dialogue with a number of participant MATs and leading primary users, I have also engaged in regular review meetings over the past few months. This week I was asked to take a look at the developments so far and I have to say I was extremely pleased with the outcome.
Here is a summary of my findings and a full critique of the software to date:
Bromcom have created a very user-friendly setup wizard for Early Years, Formative and Summative assessment. They’re easy to follow and take you through a logical process of setting up your assessment codes, subjects, teaching groups and Age-Related Expectations.
We have already talked about target setting and the facility to automatically generate targets on a given baseline (for example KS1 outcomes or previous summer assessment). Before the removal of levels and points a school could target pupils with say 3 points progress a year. If they are using Point in Time Assessment (which is very popular now) there is no way to do this, but the target generator fills that gap. I feel that this feature in the Primary Tracker product will be welcome by the users.
The setup wizard will also handle test scores (PIRA/PUMA etc), further enhancing the strength of the tracker and allowing schools to show full triangulation of their data.
Now that we have the system in place, work has commenced on bringing the primary tracker together within the Bromcom MIS. In essence this means you’ll only need to visit one area for setting it up, entering assessments or targets, and running reports.
The data entry screens are laid out in a logical way that make it easy for the user to evaluate their data as it goes into the system. More enhancements are on the way to make even more primary friendly and with the addition of test scores and target setting it’s really taking shape.
The marksheets have adopted the same appearance as the primary register, which I like. This shows consistency and flow through the system and gives it a familiar feel for primary schools. The icons at the top right-hand side of the marksheet are obvious in terms of their function, and if you hover over them the thumbnail appears. I like the feature to toggle colour view on and off as some users might find the marksheets too ‘busy’ once they start filling them in. The ability to add and remove additional columns for contextual data is a nice feature and I’m pleased that the ‘flip view’ option has been used. This is especially useful in say the formative marksheet where you can swap your rows and columns based on personal preference. The option to bring through earlier marksheet data is a very good tool and I think teachers will use this a lot.
The reports are being added through our continued engagement with our user base. We will be careful not to develop too many reports, and instead adapt what we have wherever possible. One complaint that schools tend to have with tracking systems is that there are too many reports that often tell you the same thing, but in a slightly different format. Here are a couple of highlights:
Attainment Overview –This is an excellent report and Richard King, the product owner, has added some great features to make it really interactive. I like the fact you can add subgroups, additional columns and interim assessments.
Subject Triangulation – This is essentially a Venn diagram where you can pull through any number of subjects into one report to look at combined attainment. It has some really nice features such as being able to drill-through when you click on the numbers in the Venn, and also a summary table at the bottom.
Prior Attainment Map – This report enables you to choose any baseline and any other assessment, plotted on a mapping grid, which is an excellent way of demonstrating progress with the modern curriculum.
The reports already have an Excel export and we plan to give you the ability to export to PDF as well.
The software team have really captured the spirit and imagination of our users’ vision and I can see the product really coming to life in all its glory. Certainly, I can see that the Bromcom Primary Tracker is already ahead of any other tracking software that I have seen over recent years. I can guarantee we won’t stand still, as is the case with all areas of the Bromcom MIS.
We already have primary schools and MATs contributing to the development, specifically Hamwic Education Trust with 29 primaries adapting the Primary Tracker to replace Target Tracker. We’d love to add more people to that community. If you’d like to find out more, please feel free to drop me an email on firstname.lastname@example.org