School MIS Systems – An Overview
And just like that, we’re nearly at the beginning of a new academic year. One which will hopefully bring some semblance of normality back to children’s education. However, it would be remiss to not acknowledged that things have changed, considerably. The schooling landscape has shifted and, with different methods of teaching and assessment introduced, who knows what kind of hybrid system will be adopted post-pandemic.
While many have adapted and become flexible during these uncertain times, it’s fair to say that some MIS providers have not been up to task. Their rigidity and historic dependence on in-house servers has led to difficulties obtaining data and often, teachers have been left stranded with outdated information or, in many cases, nothing to go on at all.
So, is it time to change your MIS provider? Well, you wouldn’t be the only one…
SIMS still hold the lion’s share of the market. The legacy SIMS MIS system works effectively with traditional IT systems in schools which has placed them at the forefront of the field for decades.
Yet their previous monopoly on the market is dwindling and adaptability is at the heart of the reason why.
SIMS Software for Schools
SIMS market share in the MIS market peaked in 2012 at 84%. Joshua Perry has written a series of articles on SIMS and their competitors and has calculated that SIMS now sits at below 70%. This study is supported by Schools Week who suggest that churn within the sector is increasing. In 2012, at the peak of their powers, SIMS lost just 0.1% of their arsenal, yet in 2019 alone, this had risen to 3.6% (or 609 schools).
The market is ever changing with providers looking to become more agile and refine their systems; it seems SIMS is failing to respond. Despite changes in leadership many updates that have been promised, including SIMS Primary, have not come to fruition. Their dependence on school servers has meant that, in a time of crisis, SIMS schools have been limited in the amount of content they have been able to provide and have had significant delays in creating a covid-friendly alternative. It would be remiss to not acknowledge that SIMS have made strides in making their information more accessible but, in the current climate, they remain streets behind their Cloud MIS competitors.
So how are their competitors making waves in the industry? Well, look no further than Bromcom.
Cloud-Based MIS Storage and Security
Firstly, security. It is something we all covet nowadays and with cyber-attacks threatening schools on a near daily basis, it is vital that school data is protected. With a legacy system, SIMS school data is held on local servers on-premises meaning it is far more susceptible to data breaches.
Bromcom hosts numerous servers meaning that, should one fail, the distribution of information across other servers means no data is lost and downtime is avoided. Relying on one burdened school SIMS system and one already overworked IT manager means that high performance is rarely guaranteed and the threat of losing information is ever-present. A cloud-based MIS, such as Bromcom provides better storage and more space, ensuring inhouse applications and software can run as effectively as possible. This is coupled with a dedicated team of industry experts who are on hand to ensure your data is never compromised.
The cloud also welcomes flexibility. Teachers, Learning Assistants, SENCOs, and the whole school community can now access their data anywhere, anytime and do not have to worry about remote VPNs being set up at home to access necessary information. Our servers permit you to work at home with Bromcom as if you were sat at your desk, losing no functionality in the process.
And when it comes to Multi-Academy Trusts, we also have it covered. While a SIMS school or MAT has to deploy new software, often at additional cost, to each individual school server, we can implement changes from Bromcom HQ with a few clicks of a button.
Cloud-Based MIS Pricing
Secondly, cost. Those of us fortunate enough to work in education know that almost everything has to be done on a shoestring budget and is scrutinised to the nth degree. This can prove problematic.
With SIMS school software, you are forced to contend with numerous bolt-on packages which are not part of their core services. While initial costs for licenses may be less than many cloud-based MIS providers, a SIMS system additional budgeting is required for training, lines of support for technical issues and regular updates to software and hardware.
With numerous financial commitments, from catering contracts to textbooks, having the additional burden of updating your tech throughout the school is not only labour intensive but incredibly costly.
Bromcom provides total cost ownership of a complete and comprehensive system. Be it, bolt-ons, ongoing training and support, hosting costs or our financial package, we are totally transparent with an all-encompassing price for your school or trust’s needs. This one-stop-shop means peace of mind and allows you to focus your budget on other essentials required to help with school maintenance and improvement.
The advantages of our one-stop-shop do not end there. With many schools operating multiple packages and systems to accommodate budgets, assessment, attendance and parent/teacher communication, Bromcom offers a holistic service meaning you are not having to rely on several different pieces of software to complete your work. One provider, one central platform and one ready-made solution.
The Importance of Data in Schools
Finally, data. Data is at the centre of every decision a school makes. So, data needs to be accessed readily, presented clearly and analysed easily.
At Bromcom, this is our modus operandi. Having collaborated with schools we have created a user-friendly programme that analyses both quantitative and qualitative data in a way that is accessible for everyone across the school. Our powerful dashboards and Microsoft BI capabilities provide you with accurate live data at your fingertips, any time of day.
These dashboards with in-built drill down capabilities enable data to be interpreted more efficiently and provide visual and textual detail to help justify decisions to school leaders or governors. This data is truly malleable and different criteria can be combined to create a report specific to your school’s needs.
Jo De-Vries, a School Business Manager at Thanet Primary School said of SIMS for schools:
‘I often found myself frustrated with the SIMS reporting package. I would have to create several reports and then I would create my own report from the information that the system provided – there must have been easier ways, but the system just was not intuitive enough for an everyday user to access the information needed.’
With Bromcom, all the information is in one centralised programme removing the possibility of user error when combining reports manually. This plug and play technology has you informed in an instant.
When it comes to Multi-Academy Trusts, MAT Vision has got you sorted. While, with a SIMS school system, data would have to be collated school by school and sent to a central party for alignment, our platform allows for data comparison and data aggregation across all of your schools with just a few clicks. All your MIS data held across multiple schools can be compared to highlight areas of strengths and weakness. This, in turn, can be compared with national averages, all in one easy-to-use database.
MIS Personalisation for Schools
Above all, at Bromcom we realise every school community is different. While SIMS in schools has largely stayed the course and has not readily changed its platform to allow bespoke customisation, we have. Programmes like SIMS InTouch have certainly added to their repertoire, but this approach is still not specialised to meet the different needs of different institutions.
With the return to school imminent for children across country, tailored programmes and assessment will need to be created to ensure children are all on a level footing, moving forward.
Our dashboards and analytics can be customised to fit your school’s particular needs, from accommodating pupil premium data to addressing EAL needs. This data can be analysed side-by-side or independently to ensure interventions are placed accurately and school outcomes are ultimately improved.
With Bromcom’s functionality, you can examine individual children against your own approved metrics, ensuring you support the needs of the many, as well as the needs of the few.
With a greater MIS provider comes greater autonomy to improve your school or trust’s outcomes. Bromcom can help you on this journey.