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In Conversation With: Cramlington Learning Village

/ Rory Haynes

Cramlington Learning Village is an Ofsted-rated ‘good’ school located in Northumberland. With a cohort of over 2000 students, they are a community built on respect, where individual strengths are nurtured, allowing every student to thrive.

We checked in with Data Manager, Richard Majer, to discuss the school’s implementation of Bromcom and how it has supported the redressing of a suitable work-life balance.

Background – migrating at scale

We’re a little over 2000 students here at Cramlington with a combined secondary and sixth-form provision. Our status is that of a SAT (Single-Academy Trust) and we’re one of the biggest providers in the North East, that aren’t part of a Multi-Academy Trust.

With so many staff and students on roll, it was vital that any kind of migration was managed effectively to reduce upheaval.

We went live with Bromcom in 2021. This was after an extended migratory period of about six or seven months, where our talented web designers helped to re-create everything from our previous intranet, linking to our new cloud-based solution.

My role as Data Manager means I am involved in all things Bromcom. From timetabling to staff additions and removals, I was heavily involved in the process to ensure everything was ready to go when we pushed Bromcom live to our staff.

Choosing Bromcom – the established provider

The change management process for Cramlington began about two years to 18 months before the end of a five-year contract with our previous provider. Our experience had been purely hosted systems and we were interested at the prospect of the cloud.

During the procurement process, we had several demos from different providers, including Bromcom. We were really impressed by what was out there, in truth. One of our main caveats, though, was that the software we chose had a web client, so staff could access information off-site.

This instantly ruled out a ‘side-step’ to another hosted solution, such as SIMS and it seemed clear that cloud-based MIS providers would be the eventual winner.

For us, we were impressed with how established Bromcom were in the secondary market.

Additionally, we had numerous conversations with schools in the surrounding area. Many had already made the switch to Bromcom, and we were confident there would be a community of support both from fellow providers and the local authority, who had recently become accredited with the product. We thought it would be enormously beneficial to pick up the phone to a school down the road and know that the same system was in play.

In the end, Bromcom was the clear choice.

Bromcom benefits – access for all

When we were with our previous provider, there were very few staff who actually accessed the MIS. With Bromcom being all front-end, everyone now has access to the MIS, and we have been able to tailor permissions to ensure staff only need to see what they require to complete their day-to-day work.

Our senior leaders have really benefitted from the Bromcom dashboards.

Having student information at your fingertips is a real bonus. This was particularly the case during Covid, with our management team having total visibility over attendance from one central location. The ability to drill down to specific focus groups is there, meaning targeted intervention can take place, wherever necessary.

The implementation of Bromcom has allowed SLT to have informed discussions with HoDs and subject leaders. There can be constructive conversation based on Bromcom data about areas for improvement. With both parties having access to the data, it means all parties are more informed, increasing the likelihood of positive change.

Circling back briefly to attendance, with a school of our size it is vital that comprehensive attendance policies and practices are in place. Previously, it was difficult to keep a handle on all of this data, but this isn’t the case with Bromcom.

Within the MIS we can now send out absence alerts, with automatic notifications directed to relevant staff. If any student is missing, action can be taken immediately. This process was far slower in the past. Decision-making can be done instantaneously which is of huge benefit to everyone, particularly our pastoral team.

Work-Life balance – improving teachers’ capacity to teach

I’ve had multiple conversations with teachers across the school who have been singing the praises of Bromcom. Naturally, there were some teachers who were nervous with the change in system. Now, with increased accessibility and speed of task completion, more and more are on board.

The MIS really is responsive, the same could not be said for our previous MIS.

During directed CPD time, we would often ask teachers to input their assessment data. This directed time ended up being slow-loading screens with teachers waiting for their opportunity to enter grades after waiting for access. As Bromcom is web-based this is not the case anymore. There are no crashes, no resetting, the MIS is responsive and it means teachers can complete tasks accurately and efficiently.

In general, Bromcom is just far more reliable.

Timesaving and communication – the data is all there!

The bulk editing functionality with Bromcom is brilliant. Even something such as adding email addresses which used to take five hours now takes five minutes. I can export all the data within Bromcom into a CSV, do some quick lookups and simple as that, the task is complete.

This time saving extends to communication with home. We used to use a third-party provider for our parental emails, which had flaws when it came to pulling relevant data. For example, if wanted to send an email to Year 7 SEN families, we would have to manually identify all of the students and group them. Conversely, with Bromcom, the data is ready to go from the off and we can filter at the most granular level to send bespoke communications. If it’s business students in Year 10, I can just select the group and send the relevant information in an instant.

Other USPs with Bromcom – Easy timetabling

Obviously, with a lot of students, timetabling can be a bit of a labyrinth. Whether it’s options, students moving classes, or new students moving up from Primary to Secondary, there are a lot of variables to account for.

The ability within Bromcom to select a group of students here, and a group of classes there, set up some simple formulas, and create an entire subject timetable is a huge advantage.

The final verdict – would you recommend Bromcom?

Yes, I’d definitely recommend Bromcom.

I’ve already had quite a few conversations with local schools and have even given a brief demo to a local provider to showcase what Bromcom can do. In fact, they even ended up signing with Bromcom so that shows what I think of the product and how the demo was received!