Assessing the needs of a school with unique requirements
Foxwood Academy is an all-through school catered to children with SEND. Their mission is to educate their pupils, celebrate their achievements and give them the tools to be as independent as possible.
It is Foxwood’s goal that all of their 112 students can play an active role in society.
We sat down with Deputy Headteacher, Lindsey Norton, to better understand the impact Bromcom has had on their school’s processes. From attendance to a bespoke assessment model, it’s fair to say that data really has had a transformative effect on this academy.
We’ve been with Bromcom for about six years now. Previously, our Local Authority’s main source of support centred around SIMS. This meant many of our neighbouring schools used their MIS as their operating system. As a foundation school, we had been using CMIS so already a little isolated when it came to the world of Management Information Systems.
When we were entertaining the prospect of change, we invited four providers to showcase their products. Our panel comprised of senior leaders, IT professionals, teachers, and teaching assistants to ensure we had a complete representation of the school eco-system. Immediately, it was clear to all of us that SIMS and CMIS were not fit for purpose. They were nowhere near as bespoke as we required, and this was particularly the case with assessment. Their metrics were exclusively ‘working towards’ and ‘working below’ and this did not track with the platform we wanted to create.
We were already using Behaviour Watch and were happy with the way it operated but really, we were intrigued about this relative unknown called Bromcom…
Having watched all the demonstrations, it was evident that Bromcom was the preferred option for all. Their flexibility and ease of use were clear differentiators between the competing pack.
If I’m honest, it almost seemed a bit too good to be true. The idea that we could create and manage our own assessment scheme did not seem feasible, particularly with our old system. Fortunately, Bromcom has come up with the goods!
The Complete Picture
We do everything with Bromcom really. As I mentioned, we were content with what Behaviour Watch could do in that capacity alone, but now we do everything within the MIS. It’s great having a system which documents everything about a child in a central location. Previously we were using disparate systems and Excel spreadsheets to complete tasks. We were still able to manipulate and report on the data, but this was a manual process. If we wanted to see the entire profile of a child, we had to switch between several pieces of information and the picture was not as clear as we would have liked.
This complete view of the child has really supported a lot of our day-to-day work, including attendance.
We operate the attendance dashboard like any other school. We do not need anything bespoke as this is simply about our children turning up in the morning.
It’s fair to say that Bromcom has had a big impact on improving attendance. One of our phase leaders has the responsibility for monitoring this metric, where previously it was simply completed as an administrative task. There was no analysis of who was in, when, and what blockers may have been in place to prevent unnecessary absences. Now, a Bromcom report is generated in seconds and dialogues can be had internally and with parents at home. This has paid dividends in getting as many pupils as possible through the doors, Monday to Friday.
That’s the beauty of Bromcom. It’s so simple and the data is so consistent, meaning it is easier to identify trends and make positive changes across the school.
Assessment – The Foundations
Assessment was one of the central reasons for choosing Bromcom. With their support, we have developed a system which works exclusively for our children and their needs.
We currently have three phases across the school: primary, KS3 and 14-19. Within each of these, we have three pathways.
Pathway one centres around preverbal and sensory learning, each phase has a pathway one class.
At the other end of the continuum, pathway three mirrors more of a traditional curriculum for students who aren’t quite mainstream-ready.
In pathway three we have some GCSE results this year which is a fantastic achievement for some of our pupils!
Within each of the phases and pathways, we have worked with Bromcom to create a series of key stage endpoints. These key stage end points span 17 different subjects, all with their own unique criteria which has been created by the subject lead. Clearly, this is a far cry from the ‘working towards’ and ‘working below’ with CMIS!
Throughout the process, Bromcom have been supportive. No one more so than Chad who is just brilliant. We still book time with him each year. It’s an additional cost but when people leave, they often take skills with them. Chad can get the team back up to scratch, ensuring we maximise the parts of the system we need.
All this information is housed in the MIS. This is only our third year with the fully refined model. We have two great sets of data from the previous two years, so we’ll be able to do some meaningful comparisons to inform future planning. As we are such a unique school, it is very difficult to benchmark against other schools in the Local Authority.
Assessment – The Impact
Bromcom has made a massive difference to our assessment practices, both in terms of ownership but also understanding. Teachers can now own their data and endpoints, adapting their teaching to achieve outcomes.
From an SLT perspective, we have seen this data being used when we conduct learning walks. The Head will have the existing endpoint progress to hand and can have discussions with teachers and pupils regarding targets, which are not being met. Phase leaders also report on their cohort during a monthly SLT meeting. There, we discuss action points and required interventions for those students who are exceeding expectations and those who require additional support. With Bromcom, we’re actually using data effectively.
Our assessment data allows us to conduct targeted parent’s evenings in the autumn and spring terms. Rather than have aimless conversations with parents, we now use the information stored in the MIS to set practical targets for development. It is far more tailored and is therefore of benefit to everyone across the school community. If intervention can occur at school and at home, we give our pupils the best chance at success.
Finally, the specific criteria ascribed to each of our endpoints means that report writing is a thing of the past. Instead, teachers can use the pre-approved statements for progress across each of our 17 subjects and download a Bromcom report. This report contains all the information parents need regarding their child’s achievements throughout the academic year. Now, our teachers don’t have to use their precious PPA writing lengthy documents detailing every one of their pupils’ learning journeys. It’s all there, with the click of a button.
Throughout the entire process, we’ve had the teacher in mind. We realise how difficult their roles are and we want to ensure they can maximise their data efficiently. Gone are the days of late nights over an Excel spreadsheet! Change is always difficult, but our considered approach has meant that everyone stands to gain from using Bromcom.
Spreading the word
We would absolutely recommend Bromcom to anyone looking to procure a new MIS and would be happy discussing the benefits with them.
At the end of the day, it’s so bespoke and aligns exactly with what we need!