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View from the classroom


I assume assessment was also scrutinised? We were formally recording test data. The problem was consistency and access. Every head of department recorded assessment information in either an Excel spreadsheet or in their staff planners. Now, everything is recorded in our MIS. By storing all the data in one place, every member of the senior leadership team can log in and access our assessment data. More importantly, the information is up to date. Decisions are now made based on what is happening during a lesson.


Has the ability to record information as it happens been widely adopted? Yes, teachers log attendance and behaviour details and also input assessment grades by simply right clicking on a student’s record. Staff are also able to record brief statements such as ‘Asked to leave the room as voice raised at another student’ or ‘No homework submitted again this week’ against a student’s electronic record.


Allowing every member of staff to access our MIS has made a real difference.


To the outsider it may appear that we are asking teachers to monitor seemingly minor bits of information about a particular student. But we have found that the ability to instantly record such detail allows us to monitor individuals and quickly intervene to address any issue that has arisen.


A teacher may log that Sarah, Jane and Anna continue to be late to their maths lesson after lunch on Fridays. Other teachers may find this information useful as they too have spotted that the trio are persistently late for their first class of the afternoon. It enables us to step in to find out why our students are having a problem with their timekeeping. If we decide to invite their parents to school, I can log on to our MIS and show the exact details of how often their child was late and by how long.


I can see that this could have a real impact across so many areas of the school. Oh yes. Allowing every member of staff to access our MIS and broadening the amount of information held in one central location has made a real difference.


We’ve been pleasantly surprised by how easy it is to access information using our laptops and tablets. Interventions now take place much quicker as we have access to real-time data. With a few clicks, we are able to distribute confidential information about students with special educational needs, for example, to individual teachers. Staff no longer have to solely rely on remembering to raise the issue at the next staff meeting or after a packed day of lessons. Attendance has improved too. Although we have never had an issue with truancy, we have been able to nip minor sixth form attendance issues in the bud. It has even had an impact on simple tasks such as finding a parent’s contact number which no longer involves a call to the school office.


One aspect that does excite me is the possibility of being able to learn valuable lessons that we can pass on to other students. If a student achieves 11 A* grades, we can now


track that journey in great detail and share it amongst every member of the teaching team.


The school appears to have made great progress. Are there any outstanding areas you’ve yet to address? Well, I am keen to further improve communication between the school, students and parents. We would like to increase the number of reports we produce, but clearly using paper-based methods is costly and time consuming. But if we can begin by sending reports electronically, it will allow parents to access details about their child’s progress using their smartphone, tablet or laptop. They may want to check the results of a test during their lunch hour. Parents may even choose to wait until the weekend when they can log on with their son or daughter to discuss the information. This year, we also plan to allow students to access information about their past achievements and their improvement targets.


Neil McClements is vice principal of Rainey Endowed School and uses SIMS as their management information system. Please visit www.capita-sims.co.uk for more information.


June 2014


www.education-today.co.uk


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