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Leigh Academies Trust

/ Rory Haynes

Communication across the Community: How Bromcom’s Power BI and MCAS capabilities have transformed a Trust’s ability to distribute and analyse information

Leigh Academies Trust is one of the largest and most-established MATs with 30 schools spanning the Kent, Medway and South East London regions.

We sat down with Trust Data Manager, Elaine Harper, who explained how Bromcom has revolutionised their communication with all stakeholders across the Trust and the added security and financial benefits of a marketing-leading cloud-based MIS.

How has Bromcom enhanced the decision-making process for senior leaders?

The beauty of Bromcom’s MAT package means we can cascade a lot of crucial information to schools from a central hub. Immediately, our Trust management team knows that the same material is being distributed to all of our schools. This promotes uniformity across our academies.

It works reciprocally too. The information the management team receives is consistent as we have instilled this, via Bromcom, throughout the Trust. Consistent data means quality data, which makes assessing it all the more easy.

For senior leaders within schools, Bromcom’s dashboards offer great little snapshots into crucial data, without the need for complicated filters or additional systems. This is particularly the case with the KS4 dashboard. Leadership across our secondaries have digestible statistics which can be used to support instant  and longer-term intervention.

Across all our schools, Bromcom’s dashboards have expedited the decision-making process. In general, schools can now make swift, educated decisions with all the data they need right in front of them.

This decision-making process has also been improved by Bromcom’s integrated Power BI dashboards.

Whether it’s pupil demographics or breakdown of key groups such as SEN, PP, or EAL, Power BI has just been amazing.

Our senior leaders now have the ability to go in, analyse this information, and use the results to make judgments which benefit the entire Trust. It’s so good we’ve even extended this functionality to department heads and classroom teachers. Now everyone is singing from the same hymn sheet and there is total visibility over the decisions being made to improve student outcomes.

How have you developed your Safeguarding provision with Bromcom?

In the first instance, we wanted safeguarding in-house and knowing that we wouldn’t have to dip in and out with an alternative provider was a real selling point of Bromcom’s.

This is also crucial when it comes to data protection, as everything is housed and secure within the cloud.

I liked the Bromcom Safeguarding Module from the off and it has come-on leaps and bounds since then. Features like the body map are great and allow us to report sensitive information accurately.

We are currently rolling out Bromcom Safeguarding Module across all of our academies. This will allow us to conduct a complete overview of our pinch points and identify where extra resources may need to be deployed.

The dashboard is fantastic for Designated Safeguarding Leads, Headteachers, and anyone else allowed access. It’s straight in there, identify the issue, and find a solution.

Housing our safeguarding information electronically has been a huge stepping stone for data security. Previously, you could be scrabbling around for a sheet of paper, whereas now staff can log information digitally which is only seen by those who need to see it.

What benefits have teachers experienced with Bromcom?

In my role as Trust Data Manager I don’t experience the day-to-day usage of Bromcom in the same way a classroom teacher does.

However, I do know that there has been unanimous approval for the Seating Plan Module in secondary schools. It’s another example of a snapshot with the exact information you need and readily accessible. There’s the ability to go in and make instant changes if the current class dynamic is not working, with all the relevant information required to create a productive layout.

It’s also great for learning walks. With student profiles attached, senior leaders can go in and access this data from a smart device or laptop. No need to get an old sheet of paper out of a folder, there’s a digital record. They can instantly identify low or high achievers and have conversations that are relevant to that particular child.

This seating plan advantage also extends to cover supervisors. They can teach the class knowing everyone is in their correct seats and not using it as an opportunity to go and sit with their friends!

Why has your Trust chosen to adopt MyChildAtSchool (MCAS)?

I absolutely love MCAS.

It’s an absolute no-brainer for all Bromcom schools. Almost the entire parent demographic across our Trusts has a smartphone, so they are able to access information about their child, in the palm of their hand, at any time.

Email and letter fatigue is certainly a problem in schools. There are too many communications that are lengthy and do not present information in a clear fashion.

MCAS allows you to send short sharp messages which grab parent’s attention and encourage engagement.

You can send targeted messages securely. If you need parents to update personal information, digitally sign a consent form, or approve a trip this can all be done without the need of an email or letter. Data breaches are far more likely via these methods, so MCAS keeps our Trust safe with encrypted information throughout.

In truth, I really had to sell the benefits in the first instance. There is often a reluctance to embrace change in schools and modifying the way we communicate was certainly met with doubts.

When I explained the advantages we could gain from using MCAS, it was far easier getting staff signed up!

What are the advantages of using MCAS?

Firstly, saving money.

Rather than sending out 300 bits of paper and receiving 20 back, parents are prompted to fill in information on their phones. We have found they are much more responsive when being asked to do this via MCAS. With the advancements in technology, most people are going to be far more inclined to fill in a form on their phone than with a pen and paper!

Immediately you’ve saved on printing costs, toner costs, envelope costs, and so on. And when the information you are getting back is richer than it would have been with a more costly exercise, there really is no contest.

Another example of cost saving is digital reports.

The CEO wanted all 30 schools to send their reports to parents via MCAS rather than producing a printed document. The printing costs alone would have been huge here. In the end, we only had to print a small number of copies across all our schools for parents who could not access this information electronically. That’s a massive saving and we have the added bonus of knowing that the reports land firmly in the parents’ MCAS inbox (and not get lost in the post).

Secondly, saving time.

I’ve recently had a forum with my Primary Office Managers where I’ve requested they double-check the personal information of all parents and students. Now, instead of chasing around for months at the start of the year, this request can be processed via MCAS and push notifications can be sent out when details are outstanding. Transferring and confirming information is made so much easier with Bromcom.

The process of sending a notification compared with a letter is incomparable. Teachers can send notifications directly from their classroom and give parents an instant view of whether their child is behaving or misbehaving. Communication is available in seconds, and it means the relationship between home and school can only be improved. These quick wins really have been brilliant, and people are now seeing how Bromcom’s technology can have a positive impact across the Trust.

Overall, I just love the way it supports our community. The Year 6’s do a residential trip each year in our primary schools. Now we can use MCAS to clarify information on clothing, spending money and timings for drop-off and collection. The itinerary can be pinned on the app so all relevant parents can see what their child is doing at any one time. When the trip is finished, this data can all be removed with a click of a button. There’s no need to trawl through emails or send multiple letters, the process is handled completely in MCAS.

What are some of the other wins you experience with Bromcom?

Being able to dip into all of our different schools is a real positive. If a member of staff calls me and asks to look into something at a particular academy, I can access that information through Bromcom in an instant.

Favourites is another favourite! Being able to bookmark the pages that you use most is great for all staff in the Trust. They can identify the information they need frequently, and have easy access to those locations at all times.

There are lots of wins, really. School summary report for Primaries, the dashboards (attendance and behaviour), PowerBI, and the newly introduced KS5 interface. It all helps us take better control of our data and make decisions that benefit the Trust. It’s so easy to navigate and is a far cry from previous providers on the market.

Would you recommend Bromcom to other Trusts?

Absolutely! The advantages of using Bromcom are enormous.