Press | 28 Sep 2020

How a web-based school MIS reshaped the Edtech market

Amidst the coronavirus outbreak, two important milestones for iSAMS flew quietly under the radar whilst more important discussions were ongoing.

In 2020, as we turned 15 years old, we also welcomed our 1,000th school onto the iSAMS platform. Needless to say we’re very proud to have so many schools around the world place their trust in us every day.

Our success is rooted in our commitment to innovation. We’ve kept pace as the technology sphere has transitioned from discs to the cloud, and from desktops to mobiles, to ensure our users are accessing a platform that works for them – not against them.

In the Beginning…

At a time when Google was still in its infancy, having just launched Google Maps, and the first version of Prototyping was being written, our founders Alastair Price and Greg Pakes began developing a platform to try and support their teachers.

Seeing how staff at Rugby School in England struggled with their administrative software, they began working to replace this outdated system with one built entirely around their teachers’ needs.

As Ajax was coined, Reddit hit the web and the infamous ‘Million Dollar Homepage’ took the internet by storm, Alastair and Greg laid the foundations for the first ever web-based school management information system (MIS).

The world of internet-based software was starting to reshape many industries, including Education. Alastair and Greg recognised this trend and went to work.

In 2005…

In the same year that YouTube was born, Alastair and Greg founded iSAMS (Internet School Administration Management System) and officially launched the first entirely web-based management information system for schools on the market.

By enabling every member of the school community to access key information wherever they are and whenever they need it, iSAMS was designed to support members of staff, enhance parental engagement and empower student learning.

The result was a far-reaching, flexible and powerful system that initially featured support for the core curriculum, a timetable management module, and assessments, reporting and admissions features.

In 2006…

By the end of our first year we’d signed our first two partner schools, both of whom were instrumental in our fledgling system’s development and still choose to partner with us today: Rugby School and Warwick School.

In 2007…

As Apple announced they would become more than just a “computer company” and released the first iPhone, 24/7 accessibility to information was becoming not just a requirement but an expectation. This was also one of iSAMS’ core concepts and the reasoning behind the system being entirely web-based.

In line with this philosophy, in 2007 we began offering our schools a cloud-hosted solution as well as the ability to host iSAMS on-site. This cloud-hosted option provides our schools with a more seamless update process, so they can always make the most of our newest developments, with the added security of regular back-ups to protect their information.

Between 2007 and 2009…

These years saw an acceleration in mobile technology, with Google introducing Android Market as iOS’ main competitor and launching the Google Cloud Platform. In doing so, information was becoming more readily available online than ever before.

Building on these market trends, this period also fostered a dramatic growth in the iSAMS platform as a variety of new features and system enhancements were developed to further our goal of supporting schools with the distribution and management of key information.

This included the launch of our Parent and Student Portals, which made us the first MIS provider to publish school-related information directly to parents and students online.

In 2009…

Around this time there was an increased interest in schools offering the British National Curriculum abroad, with a conference in Italy seeing the International Association of School Librarianship construct a list of criteria for describing an international school.

In 2009, with increasing interest from UK schools, we hit the global market – with installations in Singapore and Qatar becoming the first cornerstones marking our international growth. Since then our system has only grown alongside our community of schools, evolving in accordance with market trends and ensuring that the requirements of our schools feed into our development pipeline.

Between 2012 and 2015…

As social networking reached new heights in 2012 with the launch of Snapchat and Facebook reaching 1.1 billion users, we released our iCommunity platform to facilitate networking between our schools and provide a forum where they can share best practices with one another.

Originally designed to bring our community of schools together, encourage knowledge-sharing across the sector and enhance the experience of school life for staff members, usage of this platform has only grown and we now have 6,500 users to date. In 2014 we welcomed our 300th school – including our first Grammar Schools and Multi-Academy Trusts.

In 2015…

As Facebook launched their open-source JavaScript framework for developing mobile apps, Google and Samsung introduced their responses to Apple Pay, and the first Apple Watch hit retailers, it was clear we were in the midst of the mobile revolution.

In response to this, we launched our suite of Mobile Apps. Compatible with iOS and Android, teachers, students and parents were now able to access all the key school information they needed immediately via their handheld devices.

Between 2016 and 2018…

By the end of 2018, we had welcomed over 850 schools, groups and academies to our growing community. Never stagnant, our software also evolved to continue supporting this wider community of schools, with the launch of our Wellbeing Manager and, following the GDPR regulations, our Data Protection module.

Through working with more schools, we also recognised the need for more bespoke solutions to help support schools with their individual requirements. To accomplish this, we announced the iSAMS Marketplace; a scheme created to provide schools with the best solutions available in the EdTech market, with over 100 integration partners utilising our APIs to integrate and streamline their products with our MIS across schools.

Between 2018 and 2019…

Building on the concept of offering best-of-breed platforms we launched our integrated accounting solution, iFinance. This unique platform brings academic, wellbeing, administrative and fee billing elements together with a cloud-based accounting system to help support Bursaries by eliminating unnecessary duplication of work and reducing costly mistakes.

We also welcomed our 950th school and we continue to be proud that so many schools choose to partner with iSAMS to help support the future of education.

With the introduction of a live Sunday support service, 2019 also saw us survey over 900 schools about our Support Team. The results were outstanding, with 95% of our support queries being resolved by our dedicated team and schools awarding us a 95% satisfaction rating.

2020 and beyond…

Now partnering with over 1000 schools in more than 80 countries, as the market leader for UK Independent Schools and British International Schools, we want to continue to push the boundaries of what technology can do to support schools in empowering students towards better outcomes and experiences in their pathway to higher education.
In the coming months we’ll be working hard to strengthen our platform with new module releases including Gradebooks and Curriculum Manager, making use of the latest technological advancements by integrating with Microsoft Teams and other web-based platforms and building brand new features to help schools respond to sector developments as we have during the pandemic. We look forward to sharing our next milestone with you soon.

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