iSAMS supports strategic decisions for top independent school
In 2007 Sevenoaks School in Kent recognised that data, and the use of it, was critical to the smooth running of the school. Their existing MIS solution did not reflect the needs and future aspirations of a leading-edge school, and the database often required a lot of manual intervention.
In addition, the independent school was spending thousands on printing, copying and postage to communicate with contacts. Director of Information Systems Sarah Williamson was aware that a change was needed; to find a solution that would meet the future needs of an innovative school and to facilitate its smooth running.
The iSAMS team was invited to spend a day at the school, demonstrating iSAMS to a range of staff members, showing them modules that would be relevant to them. A small project team at the school defined their specific requirements for academic reporting and evaluated solutions from three MIS providers in 2009.
iSAMS was the clear winner when the school compared the three providers. “iSAMS was tailored to our type of school,” says Sarah. “We also received very positive recommendations from iSAMS reference sites.”
iSAMS gives you a great sense of how individual students are progressing.
Change management critical to successful implementation
Sarah and the MIS project team worked hard to get all 150 teaching staff on board. “Expectations are high here,” says Sarah, “so we had to get it right.” During the run up to the iSAMS launch at the school in 2010 the project team created ‘top tips’ hand-outs for teaching staff and clear user guides that outlined all the benefits of the new MIS system. “I give utter credit to the staff here and also the team at iSAMS,” says Sarah. “The implementation went really well.”
The iSAMS team moved the data over from the previous MIS and helped the school clean and remove duplicate or incorrect data before launch. By 2011 iSAMS was fully embedded at the school, building its investment module by module.
iSAMS team members also trained the staff at Sevenoaks School. Sarah believes iSAMS were ‘exceptional’ during that time.
Sevenoaks School now has over two years’ worth of academic report data in the new iSAMS system and can build trends by student, subject, class, and by year group. This supports strategic decisions that the school makes, including around pastoral care; even by being able to track academic progress at a glance by tutor or boarding house level. “iSAMS gives you a great sense of how individual students are progressing,” enthuses Sarah, “including information about attendance, learning support needs, academic progress and family connections.”
iSAMS is an intelligent system designed and managed by an intelligent team
Audrey Franks is Director of Administration at the school and also a Maths teacher there. She has been part of the MIS change management team from the beginning of the project. She believes iSAMS provides a ‘cradle to grave’ view of what’s happening at the school. Audrey and Sarah list the key benefits of iSAMS to be:
- Significant cost savings made on printing, paper and postage
- Time savings for staff
- A system tailored to the needs of the school
- The high quality of the data
- Easier communication with parents
- Ease of use
- Provides data seamlessly for the school’s learning platform
- Immediate access to timetables and timetable changes for students
- Secure and scalable
- Less margin for error
- The iSAMS team and their friendly approach to the school
- Online access
- Multi browser interface and multi device access in the pipeline
- Stability for the future
The most popular modules
The iSAMS modules most favoured by Audrey and Sarah include:
– School Reporting
Staff complete reports and grades online. Also enables a ‘360 degree, year on year, one pupil view’.
– Registration Manager
The school used to send prefects around to collect the registers from each classroom but no longer need to do this
– Registration Manager facilitates online
Registration and sends immediate notifications back to the office.
– Parent Portal
Great for simple communication with parents, no matter where they are in the world. “A parent in the African bush was able to read his daughter’s first online school report,” says Sarah.
– Pupil Portal
Ideal for distributing exam results. “We can publish the results at 8.30am and spend the time after that helping those who didn’t achieve the results they needed, instead of manually handing out envelopes or taking calls from students throughout the entire morning,” says Audrey.
The office staff can now focus on different, more proactive tasks
Freedom from admin tasks enables proactive staff
“iSAMS is an intelligent system designed and managed by an intelligent team” says Audrey, who believes that the school staff are now able to work more proactively due to the time savings the system provides. She has also noticed that the office staff receive fewer enquiries and telephone calls from teaching staff looking for support when trying to extract or manipulate data within the MIS system. “The office staff can now focus on different, more proactive tasks,” she says, “and teachers can work independently of the office, even from home.”
The right decision
Audrey and Sarah are genuinely pleased with the move to iSAMS and proud of the way the staff at Sevenoaks School have embraced and adapted to the change. They are also 100% convinced they made the right decision by choosing iSAMS. “This is the right MIS for an independent school,” says Audrey. “We save many hours in admin time each week, not to mention the significant cost savings we achieved in the first six months alone.”