/ Bromcom Customer Care Team
The St Ralph Sherwin Catholic Multi-Academy Trust consists of 25 schools, mainly based in the East Midlands, offering education from nursery all the way through to sixth form. The Trust is in its third year of operation and is well established in its community. It has a strong and well-respected school improvement team that works hard to support schools across the Trust, and beyond. Partnerships and collaboration are key to their success, ensuring that each school receives the benefit of shared knowledge, resources and the required expertise to deliver cutting-edge practice.
We spoke to the Trust’s Data Manager Becky Hill about how they have utilised Bromcom Vision-X to collate data from a mixed economy of SIMS and RM Integris schools, creating a central platform for analysis and school improvement.
Having a well-resourced central school improvement team is a vital part of what makes St Ralph Sherwin so successful. This team needs to be fed with data and insights to ensure that resource is focused on the right areas. It helps to pinpoint challenges, identify areas of strength, and inform intervention.
Prior to Vision-X, the MAT largely relied on termly reports sent from the schools. These were produced manually at each site, then collated and analysed by Becky. This information was then presented to the school improvement team, the CEO and the Trust Board. This process was particularly labour intensive, and Becky identified that it was challenging to quality assure the data to ensure it was always accurate.
“We had to take much of the information at face value, because we did not always have the means to quality assure the data before it was presented to stakeholders. Particularly during the pandemic.”
referencing data against census returns and it highlighted some issues. In some schools Becky could log in to a Hosted SIMS platform or RM Integris to quality assure the data, but in others, the MIS was onsite and not available to access remotely. Even with access, it was a slow process and sometimes drew her time away from supporting the school improvement team in other ways. Added to this, was the limitation of how regularly the data could be gathered and analysed. In effect, the Trust was more often than not working with historical information.
“We were sometimes being more reactive rather than proactive. None of our data was live. We were working with information that was weeks, maybe even months old. We aim to be a cutting edge Trust in all that we do. We felt that we were at risk of falling short of our expectations in gathering the most meaningful school data.”.
At the time, there wasn’t really an alternative available. The Trust needed something that would not only collate key information, but also work with both SIMS and RM Integris, creating a unified dataset for in-depth analysis.
During the height of the pandemic in 2020, Bromcom wanted to provide something to schools to help them cope with the huge logistical task that laid ahead of them. We adapted our existing MAT-Wide reporting system to work with any MIS and offered it to schools free for three years. St Ralph Sherwin CMAT was one of the first to take up the offer.
“I needed to collate and report data from 20 primary schools and five secondary schools that used different MIS systems. I needed to report on demographics, attendance, exclusions and performance. It was so exciting when Mark came along and said, ‘We have a dashboard that will pull all your information together into one central place’ “
It was a straightforward process to get everything set up and the data began to flow. Becky began cross-checking data against census returns and termly reports to ensure all the data was correct. At this stage, it was all about building confidence in the tool and ensuring it could be something they could rely upon. Becky touched upon how much she appreciated the support from both Bromcom and the company providing the third-party connector for RM Integris. They helped to rectify any teething issues with the data feeds and ensure the dataset was a perfect match to the data held in the school’s MIS.
During this initial process, Becky was able to use Vision-X to quickly identify issues in the termly school reports that the Trust’s central teams were relying upon. She could correct this information for the Trust and ensure the schools knew how to generate the correct figures for their own purposes.
From here, she began using tools within Vision-X to support her role. Part of her remit is to ensure that Schools are data compliant. With COVID rules and regulations coming thick and fast, many Trust schools found it increasingly difficult to keep on top of all the information and guidance. Becky could not only provide appropriate guidance, she could now ensure that schools were compliant through consulting Vision-X.
‘Vision has given me the ability to identify where I think potentially there may be an issue or something that I want to pick-up with a school. I have been able to do that background work before I contact the schools, so I can be quite confident that I am not wasting their time.’
Becky emphasised how important it is that school data is accurate and how vital it is for the Trust to have oversight of the data held in their schools.
Vision-X provided Becky and her colleagues with Trust-wide data that could be used to highlight areas of concern, celebrate success, offer support and inform future priorities. Data analysis is no longer limited to termly reports. The Trust now has an up-to-date picture of their schools that can be monitored daily at the click of a button.
“Vision enables me to have oversight of data across the whole Trust. This has saved me a huge amount of time and allows me to respond quickly to questions.”
Another area that the Trust is exploring is the use of Power BI. At present, Becky is predominantly using the pre-built templates, but she has already attended a Power BI training session and is looking forward to the next. Becky raised the fact that sometimes she likes to use the built in Analytics in Vision and other times she prefers the more detailed analysis in the Power BI reports.
Part of Becky’s role is to provide intelligence to her colleagues within the Trust’s school improvement team. She identifies areas that warrant further investigation and monitors the data against national comparators. Despite only using Vision-X for a comparatively short time, she has already had great success when using the platform for this purpose.
In one instance, a small spike in behaviour incidents following the return to school after lockdown enabled the school improvement team to cast a lens quickly across this area and take swift action to address it. Becky can now monitor the impact of this intervention in real time rather than waiting for the termly report.
“How often are you offered a product that doesn’t cost you anything except the time it takes you to get it set up?”
St Ralph Sherwin Catholic Multi-Academy Trust recognises the importance of reducing unnecessary burdens for school leaders and is dedicated to reducing staff workload. Becky aims to use the data in Vision for the termly reports rather than ask the schools to manually provide her with it. The automation of this process is eagerly anticipated by all.
Becky has engaged regularly with the Bromcom team since the beginning of this project and has spearheaded several tweaks and changes that have enhanced Vision-X. We value all our partnerships and St Ralph Sherwin CMAT is another great example of where MIS Supplier and Education provider can work together to improve outcomes.
Thank you to Becky Hill and the St Ralph Sherwin CMAT team for providing their valuable time to be part of this discussion. If you would like to know more about how we can help your school or MAT, please get in touch.