iSAMS provides new ‘realms of possibility’ for Tudor Hall
When Data Manager Laura Pountney joined Tudor Hall, a girls’ independent boarding and day school near Banbury, she received a standing ovation before she even sat down at her desk.
The staff there were so frustrated with their existing MIS, and they were delighted that Laura had been appointed, to turn the situation around and get all aspects of the school data running smoothly.
When Laura arrived in 2010, the existing MIS solution was holding the school back. It took up vast amounts of time for staff who very often had to work manually where the system failed them. Information and reports were difficult to extract, and the system created negative feelings among the staff towards IT in general.
With 170 members of staff to please, and 336 sets of pupil data to manage, the challenge was on for Laura. The school had already decided a new MIS was needed and began looking into SIMS and iSAMS. Laura had received a recommendation for iSAMS from a peer at a school in Cheltenham and it was decided to invite both SIMS and iSAMS representatives in to give a demonstration.
The decision-making process
Both iSAMS and SIMS teams visited Tudor Hall in 2010 to present their MIS offering. However, Laura and the decision-making team at Tudor Hall, including the Deputy Head, knew that iSAMS was right from the outset, in part due to the approach taken by the team presenting, and in part due to the solution itself. “It was a great demo from iSAMS,” says Laura. “The team are not typical salesman and they just know the system inside out.”
Easy installation, support and training
The decision was made to go with iSAMS and it took just six months from the demonstration to installation. The iSAMS team worked closely with the school and moved data across from their existing MIS solution. By September 2011 the system was fully up and running alongside the previous solution, so staff were able to get accustomed to iSAMS before the final launch in 2012. “It all just worked and it has never let us down,” says Laura
Tudor Hall staff were also impressed with the iSAMS on-site training which was broken down into modules. Laura enthuses about the quality of the training saying, “the trainer was massively experienced in the way schools work and how the iSAMS system supports them.”
In terms of ongoing support, if Laura ever needs any help, she usually emails the iSAMS team and always receives a fast response.
The benefits of iSAMS
The overall result? The team at Tudor Hall are incredibly happy with their new MIS solution. Head of Religious Studies, Jonathan Galloway is an advocate, saying “iSAMS is one brilliant, massive improvement that was long overdue. The ability to see everything in one place is fantastic. I love iSAMS.”
Laura lists the main benefits of iSAMS as being:
- accessible in real-time, easily manageable and all in one place
- Reporting: previously stressful, but now simple – and students can also comment on their own reports within the system
- The Parent Portal: great for parents who often live far away from the school
- The SMS system: allows quick and easy communication with parents (this was beneficial during the snowy weather of 2013)
- Time savings: ideal for school staff who previously spent hours trying to extract information from an ineffective system
- Cost savings: in terms of the MIS itself and also in terms of printing/paper costs and postage
- Everything is managed and distributed online: no more piles of paper or missing information
- A fully customisable, error proof and flexible system
“Don’t hesitate to go with iSAMS,” Laura advises, “it just works properly and the realms of possibility within this MIS are vast.”
Now that iSAMS is fully embedded in the school, the biggest benefit by far is the ability to complete tasks that they would never have been able to do previously. For example, improving predicted grade reporting, and quickly and easily creating school trip lists including health and LDD requirements before a trip takes place.
Teachers now approach Laura with their requests for new reports or new ideas they have for improving data management at the school – and Laura knows she is able to create these, saying “iSAMS fires the imagination of the staff here and they know their requests are possible to meet.”
Laura and the staff at the school use the majority of the modules within iSAMS. Laura picks the most useful as being Pupil Manager, HR Manager, Exams Manager, Census & Inspection Manager, Reward & Conduct and Tracking Manager.
Essential in any school
The move over to iSAMS has proved to be a significant benefit to Tudor Hall, in terms of effectiveness, usability and scope of possibility now and for the future.
Laura concludes, “Changing an MIS is a big decision but there is no point in continually fixing an old system that doesn’t work. iSAMS is totally essential in any school.”