How Bromcom made a positive impact at The Reading School
The Reading School is a selective state day and boarding academy for boys aged 11-18. The vision for the Reading School is to create a flourishing world-leading institution that develops academic excellence and builds good men through a powerhouse of sustained high performance, advancing knowledge and championing character. We spoke to Gareth Sellwood, Network Manager at the Reading School for feedback on his working practice.
For over 15 years the Reading school had its network and Management Information System(MIS) locally hosted. Capita SIMS was the MIS provider and the school faced the burden of maintaining both the software and hardware infrastructure. Gareth explained that the local server and database solution worked well 10 years ago, but now it felt outdated when compared to its modern cloud-based rivals.
Gareth recalled the need for constant updates and patches which would need to be manually applied by the school. Whilst the school appreciated that any MIS needs continual development, the updates became a hinderance to the productivity of Gareth and his team.
“It was not a reliable MIS. The system would constantly fail and break when rolling out the updates. We had to look for an alternative provider”
Not only was the MIS ‘breaking’ from the regular updates and changes within the system, but simple teacher tasks were also failing. Teachers became dependent on support and would become disengaged with the technology. Furthermore, the lack of foresight shown for teachers that were not classroom based was raised.
“PE staff could not take a register. It is impossible for a locally hosted server to be done outside. The system was static and was not flexible enough to meet our needs”
The school needed to secure an MIS system that would meet their evolving needs. Something that would re-engage staff in technology that could make their role more effective and efficient. They wanted a reliable, cloud-based solution that would enhance not only the school but the community it serves.
Gareth went on to explain that the school also wanted to reduce the use of third-party software. For the Reading School they had found that many of the different companies they were using would rarely take responsibility for the data they were provided by the school. Often when the MIS system and a third party would interact there would be a lack of accountability when issues arose and ultimately the school lost out. A substantial amount of time was wasted while the companies pointed fingers at one another.
After a review of the market, the school identified Bromcom as the chosen MIS provider. As significant draw was that the system was cloud-based. Being able to access the system anywhere and anytime enabled all of the staff to complete the tasks they were set and they were no longer forced to complete them at a specific desk. The MIS still receives regular updates but now they are carried out centrally by Bromcom. They are applied out of hours, so there’s no impact on the user experience. Users are alerted to the changes, and the Reading School has no fear of the system failing.
The school followed a similar pattern to national trends by moving away from a system that has many third parties and a move towards a more integrated solution. An MIS system that offers more than just data capture, and assists in the management of daily tasks and routines. Bromcom prides itself as a company that will meet your schools needs and not just one particular facet. Gareth found that Bromcom was able to provide a comprehensive solution for the Reading School, something the school were keen to highlight.
“We were able to lower the amount of third-party products within the organisation. School Comms, Task Insight, Parent Portal and Sco-Pay were all removed from the school costs as Bromcom offered an alternative solution within their One-Stop-Shop package”
Due to the changes made and the implementation of the system, Gareth explained that the school has managed to reach out and engage with the school community more. In particular, communications and payments from parents have increased thanks to the ability to keep them informed digitally via the MyChildAtSchool app.
“The MyChildAtSchool parent portal has increased parental engagement at the school. We have become a cashless school and all payments are now completed online. We are very proud of this achievement”
Additionally, teachers have now become more confident with the system. They are able to efficiently input attendance, behaviour and assessment information, enabling them to focus on the more important teaching and learning tasks. Staff are also using the Teacher App to perform tasks and access the registers outside of the classroom. Gareth had explained that the software is much more accessible for teachers as they do not get lost in the system whilst completing their tasks. It is reliable and does not impact the teaching and learning by diverting too much of their attention.
The assessment team has really engaged with the Bromcom product. Assessment accessibility and the use of Power BI has allowed them to capture and analyse data within an MIS like they have never done before. Feedback of assessments and challenges to parents has been very valuable in gaining a united community.
“Reporting all in one place, from a single data set, using the powerful analysis tools such as Power BI; has helped with the School Improvement and performance targets”
Administrators within the school have also noticed a difference. Tasks are now completed quicker without the dialogue between third parties. Bespoke reports can be created and scheduled by users, which is ideal for saving time on regular tasks. Being able to work from home has been really important during the recent pandemic and this has ensured administrators can keep on top of their workload and enable the school to run efficiently from afar.
“A huge benefit has been that we are able to leave remote desktop behind and access the system from a web-based browser. The accessibility and flexibility has been fantastic”
Communication around the school has also enhanced the daily routines. Bromcom can be accessed from any device within the school and therefore the office can spread information and news quickly to staff members, ensuring that prompt and swift actions can be taken. This is also mirrored with the parents. A single database of contacts that can all be contacted simultaneously with information that is within the system (such as attendance) has also provided a great strength of Bromcom.
Gareth is excited by the journey they have just embarked on with Bromcom. He highly recommends the Bromcom software and confidently speaks about the positive impact it has made within the school. He and his team are now looking forward to seeing where the product can assist them in the future.