Making the switch from Pupil Asset to Bromcom
Fulbridge Academy is a large four-form entry Primary school in Peterborough and one of 4 schools within the Four C’s Multi-Academy trust. The aim of the school is to support their culturally diverse community by striving for excellence, and enabling the children to achieve their highest creative, social, emotional and academic potential. As the former Vice Principal of the school, Scott Biggs explains the transition from a fairly basic MIS to a more advanced, intuitive system that provided a comprehensive solution for all areas.
There comes a time in which an analysis of the current systems becomes necessary to improve the service. Having reviewed the existing processes and MIS system in use (Pupil Asset), we have decided to review what other MIS systems are available and if an alternative MIS can serve us better, I I went through a tender process in the Spring of (?) 2019 whereby I ensured I looked at all of the MIS systems on the market and compared their features and functionality. Pupil Asset was known for the assessment tracker and analysis, and at that moment in time they fulfilled the needs and requirements of my school. However, when I began to investigate the other opportunities, I found that they were not the only system that could provide the assessment I was looking for. Management Information Systems have developed significantly and have started to provide more services to their users and provide them with a toolkit to aid the continual school improvement with pace and purpose. Looking at different systems raised my awareness of how an MIS can change the role of individuals; how it can influence the decisions leaders make and their plans for the future. The system is so much more than a space to input data. In the Summer of 2019, as a trust, we made the move from Pupil Asset to Bromcom.
So, I wanted to explain my reasons for the move from Pupil Asset to Bromcom and why I feel that the Bromcom system can meet the requirements for many schools with its capability to be inclusive for all educational key stages and school types. First and foremost, I will look at assessment, because that was the reason we had chosen Pupil Asset previously. I will explain how the Bromcom system meets the current needs and requirements and I will then explain some of the other areas that benefited when joining Bromcom.
The key driver for the change – assessment
DIAGNOSTIC | Diagnostic assessment is crucial when beginning new content for children. The Education Endowment Fund explains that, ‘Diagnostic assessment is a crucial tool in a teacher’s toolkit to help understand the specific areas of strength and weakness in learning, especially before teaching of a particular topic or unit begins’. This type of assessment enables the teacher to plan the unit or learning objective with the knowledge of how well the children have performed. It should highlight common misconceptions and areas for development from the previous teaching. Often this type of assessment is done by using a question level analysis tool. Within the Bromcom system, there is the ability to use the Standardised Test Tracker. The tracker enables the members of staff to gain an analysis of the pupil performance but also to understand areas which would require further development and teaching. Bromcom has the ability to use the universal standards provided by Rising Stars for their PIRA and PUMA tests, however, the real benefit is that the user can create their own tests for question level analysis that meets the needs of their children. This therefore allows the schools to continue being autonomous in their delivery of their bespoke curriculum and allows them to create their own tests.
Standardised Test Tracker – QLA Input
Standardised Test Tracker – QLA Analysis
FORMATIVE | Formative Assessment takes place daily during the delivery of lessons within a school. This assessment is often observational and relies on the regular recording of information. Formative assessment has the main advantage in being instant with its feedback. Often staff will be provided with several statements and asked to ensure the children can meet those standards within the practice that they show. There is a danger of going too granular with assessment and providing too many statements that in practice a skilled teacher will be able to define from their judgements. The NFER explains the different forms that formative assessments can also be supplied as. ‘ Formative assessments may be questions, tasks, quizzes or more formal assessments. Often formative assessments may not be recorded at all, except perhaps in the lesson plans drawn up to address the next steps indicated.’ Formative assessment is vital to understand the progress of all children, in particular to those children that are not working at age related expectations. The progression that these children will show will be minor in the case of age expectation but will be major to the individual and their needs. An area of the school that continues to be driven by formative assessment is the Early Years Classrooms. The EYFS framework has been developed to ensure that members of staff can witness the different statements that make up Age Related Expectation. Evidence collection for the different statements is really important to some schools and the creation of portfolios have been ‘a go to’ outcome that can drive the curriculum delivery and assessment of the student.
Bromcom is able to support this type of solution within the system. If the needs of the user is to have curriculum statements that require the teachers to comment, evidence or level; Bromcom provides a tracker that enables the calculation of how many pupils are working at an Age-Related Expectations. The analysis of how many statements can also be created within a summative score. The use of mobile technology has enabled staff to collect data and create an evidence bank within the system that can create the popular portfolios.
Primary Tracker – Formative
Depth of knowledge overview with drill down to knowledge statements
SUMMATIVE | Summative Assessment has been seen as the complete opposite to the formative assessment. These tests seem to be more formal and create a performance snapshot of the pupil. The test is not likely to inform the teaching and learning of the individual child, but to attain their progress nationally and to see if they have learnt the content that has been delivered. Summative tests often come at the end of the unit of work to track the retention of the learning and to provide a view for the next term or teacher that they will meet. The real benefit of summative assessment is the analysis of the different trends that can inform decision making at a class, cohort and school level. Assessment at a leadership level often focuses on summative and the teacher can apply the reasoning behind the level using their formative assessment.
Bromcom offers a summative tracker that can have bespoke mark sets, grade sets and age related expectations. The Bromcom system can enable the user to analyse the performance at different levels. The company has now developed unique dashboards that can allow drill down to student level to ensure the reasons behind trends and patterns can be found. The patterns and trends from the summative assessment and expectation also develops the targets that will be set for the students.
Primary Tracker – Summative
Attainment overview to track progress
KS4 Dashboard Analytics
MAT LEVEL | The changing climate of education has led to the development of the assessment at a Multi-Academy Trust level. The influence of MATs is the standardisation of the different marksets and gradesets, which therefore takes away some of the autonomy. It is really important for the centralised team to manage and analyse the school level data. The need to deploy resources to the schools within the MATs is incredibly important so the school community continues to close the gap.
Bromcom continues to support the school community. The MAT Vision product amalgamates the trust data and allows the centralised team to analyse the performance, attendance and behaviour of both staff and pupils. By using alongside the financial solution, the budgeting and the allocation of resources can be swift and effective.
Vision – Attendance
It is also important to note that we had a school within the trust that still had some time left to run on their Pupil Asset and other third party contracts. Bromcom offers a solution for a centralised platform of data analysis regardless of the MIS in use. Vision X is a platform that can aggregate student data from any MIS and place them into one database for analysis and comparison. So, while the contracts were running in the other school and they were waiting for the right time for them to migrate across, the centralised trust team could still analyse the data quickly and easily.
Userability, looks and feel: interface
The interface is something that all members of staff will interact with, and it needs to be clean and clear for them individuals to do their jobs. Pupil Asset has an interface that groups the functionality into pupils, results, analysis, messaging, website and help. The Bromcom MIS has a clear dashboard that provides great accessibility. It has been designed to bring the most important functionality straight to the user. The interface is intuitive by design. A wide variety of tasks are extremely easy to access via the global search tool or the main dashboard. Most users will not need to use menus as a wide variety of tasks can be accessed via the global search tool. I found that in many cases a user can do all their work without touching the menu system. I was able to search for their class, pupils, staff and even rooms or equipment using the same tool. It was fast and easy to view the results I wanted. Not only does this increase accessibility to the required features, it speeds up tasks by removing interim steps.
It is really important to have clear defined roles within a school to ensure the accountability of the different individuals. The Pupil Asset system had levels of accessibility built in. The struggle was how to gain the information from the system. The Bromcom MIS system supports office managers, attendance officers, pastoral care and finance. An Administration Module, Attendance Module, Dinner Module, Finance Module and MCAS (Parent Portal) are all built into the system to ensure there is one space for the different job roles. By providing a menu of modules, it allows the user to gain the information they require quicker. Roles and Permissions can be set to provide clarity of areas that allows the individuals to specialise and use a clean system that only has their requirements. The impact of the compartmentalising of the Administration is a cleaner workflow.
PARENTAL ENGAGEMENT | A really important area of the MIS system was the development of communication with parents. I personally found the messaging to parents from Pupil Asset was not at the same level as that of Bromcom. There was basic functionality but not to the level required. Both companies have a parent App which is crucial to communicate with one another. Pupil Asset App allows parents to communicate with the school easily, view achievement, view attendance, view behaviour, send and receive messages to school as well as pay for school trips and meals. The Bromcom App surpasses the capability of Pupil Asset. Several different areas can be shared with the parents subject to the school’s needs; assessment, attendance, behaviour, clubs/trips, dinner money, exams, homework, on report, online payments, parental consents, parents evenings, reports, student and contact details and timetable are all placed with differing functionality. The communication of the data through this app has saved money and time and has enabled the school to go cashless and paperless.
MCAS (Parent Portal) Dashboard
STUDENT ENGAGEMENT | It is really important to plan in accessibility to education for those who cannot attend school. Interaction between students and the school outside of school time is really important. To ensure that there is a good relationship between home and school a student portal has been developed. This enables for home learning to happen and assignments to continue. The different functions within the student portal include the sharing of assessment, attendance, behaviour, bookmark, calendar, exam, forum, homework, lessons, news, quiz, reports, resources, subject and timetable. Just like the Parent portal, this is all configurable to suit the school’s needs. This is all to ensure that the student is aware of their education and performance. Some of the features interact with the parent portal to ensure the work is completed.
SAFEGUARDING | An integrated safeguarding solution allows the recording of the different incidents within the same system. Pupil Asset does not have the system and requires a third party product to solve this. Bromcom does have its own safeguarding software. The software enables staff to record incidents and actions. A user friendly dashboard allows the safeguarding practitioners to record and report the incidents to the relevant outside agencies if required. Staff are notified within the Staff APP to support the needs of the children.
Safeguarding in Child Profile (NB will only be accessed by safeguarding practitioners)
Safeguarding Dashboard (NB will only be accessed by safeguarding practitioners)
WRAPAROUND CARE | An important role within the school is offering children the opportunity to access wraparound care. The clubs before and after school provide a small income for the school as well as relief for the parents of the most vulnerable. Bromcom has the function to support wraparound care by allowing the parents to book a slot using the MCAS App, and managing any membership limits. It allows the school to monitor numbers and ensure staffing and all medical requirements can be adhered to.
Wraparound Care with a running balance
We decided to move away from Pupil Asset to upgrade our user experience and provide more time for developing the teaching and learning within the school. We found the Bromcom system to be fresh, quick and intuitive. Despite being worried about moving from a solution that I perceived as from an assessment specialist, all my needs have been met by the Bromcom suite as it allows for the bespoke creation of the package we designed. The other elements of the system have streamlined and made the organisation of the school efficient and new routines and habits have been formed to ensure that the school can focus on the priority of school improvement and not administrative tasks. The school is now cashless and paperless. The savings that can be made by using the technology are astonishing and in hindsight, we wished I had made the switch sooner.