Wirral Grammar School for Boys is a State Grammar School based in Bebington, Merseyside. With every child encouraged to fulfil their academic potential, the phrase ‘work hard play hard’ is synonymous with the students in Merseyside.
Bromcom won the contract to provide Wirral Grammar School with their MIS. We sat down with Jeremy Woodham, School Operations Manager, to find out why now, and why Bromcom.
New staff, new system
We had been entertaining the prospect of change for some time. Unfortunately, there is often a tendency towards inertia within schools. A new Headteacher was introduced in 2021, along with a new Financial Business Director. Both were willing to entertain something new, the Head having already experienced Bromcom at a school in Staffordshire.
The reason for the change was straightforward. With the sudden requirement to sign a three-year contract with ESS and the lack of any significant development with SIMS, we felt it was necessary to take the plunge and see what else was out there.
Due to the time constraints, we didn’t have time to go down the government tendering route to upgrade our system. So, having written the specification ourselves, our Finance Business Director and I contacted several alternative providers and invited them to tender. Our Panel, consisting of senior staff, governors, and heads of department calculated the scoring, we had the ‘beauty parade’ and then made our judgements.
Ultimately, even though our new Head had utilised Bromcom before, he was very relaxed throughout the procurement process. His view was that he wanted the right product for WGSB. We ensured that we didn’t discuss this with his previous school as we did not want our judgement clouded. We intended to judge the system solely on its merits. I have been using SIMS for the last 25 years so this was a leap into the unknown!
My background is in IT support but in more recent years I have migrated to the leadership team. My responsibilities include managing the school diary and events, creating the school timetable, organising cover, and ensuring that everyday operations run smoothly.
I think it would be fair to say I know my way around a school both from a procedural background but also from an MIS perspective (in a previous life I lead the SIMS demo site for the local area).
Essentially, I know what an MIS could and should do. I wanted to find a product which could fulfil the tasks required and support us in our growth.
Before the procurement process, I had a few conversations with Wirral Metropolitan Borough Council who have supported us with SIMS for years. They opened my eyes to the different processes and experiences that schools have had when they’ve joined Bromcom, along with other competitors.
If truth be told, the responses I had from the team at Bromcom were amazingly positive, but I wanted to ensure it wasn’t just sales spin!
I attended BETT 2022 to have a look around at the various providers to discover whether the sales spin was legitimate. I must be honest and say the product was everything it promised to be.
Everyone on the stand seemed very keen and happy to help. One of your Marketing Managers, Damon, stepped in to provide me with a demo as, when I arrived at the stand, all the sales staff were occupied.
Damon answered my questions honestly and made me appreciate both the flexibility of the system and also the support on offer throughout the company. I got the impression from my short time at BETT that Bromcom were forward-thinking and willing to support schools.
Finalising the decision
I’ve known about Bromcom as a provider for years now, even way back to their barcode-scanning days! It’s clear to see they’ve now fully adapted to the MIS market.
Personally, I feel Bromcom bring the right products to the market at the right time and, for the right reasons. It’s not just a shiny box, it’s something that is going to have an impact across the education community.
Harry led a session that showcased the system’s flexibility. This gave us confidence that Bromcom could adapt to whatever we needed.
We wanted an MIS that was financially viable and could consolidate disparate systems into one single product. Bromcom allows us to cut away costly third-party providers, saving money across the school. Though we are only at the beginning of our journey and haven’t implemented these changes yet, we know the capacity is there.
As someone who has worked with MIS’s for a number of years, we felt that the quality of the product, combined with the willingness of the team to support, made Bromcom the clear choice as our new MIS.