/ Rory Haynes
Haberdashers’ Adams is a prestigious Grammar School located in Newport, Shropshire. With state boarding options they operate an ethos of traditional values with a modern approach.
Bromcom sat down with their Inclusions Officer, Tom Hurst, to understand the transition from a bespoke hosted system to a cloud-based operator, and how this has improved processes throughout the school.
I’m currently in my third year with Haberdashers’ Adams but the school have been with Bromcom since 2014.
Our relationship with the MIS is slightly different to a conventional one. Originally, we had a bespoke system designed by the Deputy Head using Microsoft Access. This was essentially a hosted one-stop-shop which gave staff everything they needed on a day-to-day basis. The Deputy Head was incredibly technically savvy and would edit the source code to provide updates as needed.
The reason that Bromcom was introduced in the first instance was that we needed an MIS provider as dictated by the DfE. We really didn’t use it for anything other than statutory returns.
Now, the Deputy Head is retiring, and the Access system is unsustainable. Fortunately for us, we had Bromcom in place, so it is now my responsibility to move from the outdated technology we have been using. While it has served its purpose, due to its nature, staff would have to remote in from home and these processes were long-winded and added more time on to the day.
I’m now in a process of going module by module, organising a slow migratory procedure so everything can eventually be done with Bromcom.
If I’m honest, I hadn’t experienced Bromcom before. My previous work with MIS providers had been exclusively with SIMS and Access.
This process is going really well and I’m thoroughly impressed with the efficiencies that Bromcom are able to provide the school. I’m still learning as I go but the academic accommodations we use as our behaviour system (both positive and negative) are now really easy to record and share.
Previously, when setting these up with Access, we had to go through several steps and open up multiple parts of the database to action. Now, it’s automated and can all be found from one behaviour dashboard. This is huge when it comes to timesaving for teachers, who are not having to dip in and out of several platforms to get their reporting done.
Reduction in workload is one of the key benefits of Bromcom.
One of our key philosophies here is to allow teachers to get on with their teaching. There’s autonomy in place for educators to run classrooms the way they wish, the only thing we would like to do is expedite different functions for them, so they have the capacity to teach in the classroom and not be concerned about administrative tasks.
This has been a hard sell to some, who have been using Access as far back as 2009. Thankfully, people are realising the benefits that can be had with this ‘new’ cloud-based system. This is particularly the case for our middle leaders, who can now schedule reports with information automatically distributed to parents. There’s still work to be done but in reality, there are so many things that we can do more effectively in Bromcom.
One of the best features of Bromcom is accessibility, and the ability to retrieve all the information you need with a small number of clicks. For the majority of staff, all the information they need is located on one dashboard. There’s a complete profile detailing the classes they are teaching, attendance, behaviour, and more. With our previous system, this was across several different windows.
We also use MyChildAtSchool (MCAS) a lot.
MCAS has been a game-changer when it comes to communication with home. Parents now have a complete overview of their child’s performance. There is no need to send numerous emails to inboxes which may go unread. Instead, we can use push notifications with bespoke reporting for students using user-defined fields. We’re not sending out unnecessary messages, they are all completely relevant to the parent in question. I think this is absolutely brilliant!
Our next step is to introduce half-termly grades. This may require a little tinkering on our side, but the intention is to keep parents as informed as possible.
Ultimately, this is all in the interest of streamlining our communications. There’s less of a burden on our admin staff with reports and behaviour events automatically sent home. This frees up time to focus on other work.
Teachers have even taken it upon themselves to use Bromcom to send home their own communications. We’re seeing the transition gather pace and teachers now realise they can deliver information home without having to go through the process of reporting to the admin team and waiting for them to action.
The Bromcom Community is great.
Migrating an MIS is no mean feat, and it requires a lot of questioning.
The success of the Community is that it takes a lot of pressure from the Bromcom Support team. You have a series of established Bromcom experts who can answer simple questions in an instant. For more complex questions I will typically raise a ticket, but there have been many instances where I have gone to the community looking for answers and they have been forthcoming almost as quickly as I ask the question.
Outside the community, the support I’ve had from Bromcom has been really comprehensive, especially with Wayne Middleton.
When I’ve been perplexed with something I haven’t encountered before, Wayne either comes back with a set of instructions, a solution, or both. As an example, I needed help with a matrix report, Wayne designed a report for me and left it in the repository so I could access at any time. I can now reverse engineer using his work and find a solution for myself.
Overall, the support on offer from Bromcom is great.