My school transferred over from SIMS to Bromcom in November 2019. I was happy enough using SIMS, I had been using it for over 10 years and accepted its limitations with no thought of changing provider. Change is after all pretty hard work and my office colleague and I are both in our 50’s and would never have actively sought another MIS provider as like all school offices we are just about coping with our current workload. We would have never considered that another company could offer us a viable product with a headache free transition.
But as part of a newly formed Academy with a Central Team looking at services and value for money, we could not avoid the change. Through our own group discussions, we began to question our existing service and examine what we wanted to make our school offices run smoother and make everyone’s lives easier. This led to a procurement process with different providers including our existing one presenting their product and an opportunity for us to ask questions. It was important for the Office staff to be involved in this process at the beginning as we are the main users of the system and know what we need it to provide, and this I feel was the first step in us buying into the need for change as we sat there thinking about the new methods we could introduce and how much more we could get from an MIS system.
As I look back on the transition that followed it was actually nothing to worry about. We were given time before going live to practice using Bromcom and all of the existing data was transferred over by our IT provider SCOMIS with no additional workload to us apart from some basic housekeeping. We attended some face to face training at one of our local schools and signed up for a number of webinars which are then made available as a recording for you to revisit. The Census webinar sailed me through doing my first Bromcom census this January with no chase up calls from County. The schools in our Academy are made up of a secondary and varying size primary schools, and each chose to use certain elements of the system which they required at transition, some like my school using just the basic system initially, others using the full MCAS communication and online payments system straight away. We were all allowed to manage our transition our own way and my school desperately needed to move forward, we were still using a paper register, balancing the dinner money in a book, had no communication system for parents and no online payments system. Despite this we were a school which received a High Standard at Audit and systems were running smoothly- the change to Bromcom motivated us to make these transitions to move our school forward. We had Teachers using the system to take their registers by January, we set up the dinner register module by February Half Term and were poised to launch MCAS at the start of the Summer Term until Coronavirus changed everyone’s plans, and we will now launch this at the start of the Academic Year. During this difficult term we have been using the system to successfully keep parents informed by email as the system has enabled school staff to work safely from home.
Now when I have a problem or there is something that I don’t know I refer to the Documentation Centre and the How to Guides, watch the You Tube videos, ring the very helpful Support Desk who can remote in and show me what to do or ring one of my Academy colleagues.
The system is so easy and much quicker than our previous provider. It has all the basics you would expect for staff and pupils in an MIS system and information can be found so quickly-Within 2 clicks of my mouse I can tell my attendance for groups such as SEN or PP children by class and child. You can even set up your Head’s system so they can find out the information without asking you- that’s a definite bonus.
I know 6 months later that we are not there yet and I feel that I still have a lot to learn about the system. But when I think about how far we have come I am really proud about how my colleague and I have managed the transition, embraced the change and moved my school forward providing a better service for everyone.