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Having the facts at your fingertips will pay off when the inspectors visit

Behaviour management Schools reveal how they have improved pupil behaviour


How SIMS software can raise attendance at your school

SIMS software helps boost achievement



Save time and money with SIMS


Pay your suppliers by Capita’s BACS service and you could save 50 per cent on payment costs. For an average secondary school the saving is £3,500 per year.

Enter achievement and behaviour information directly into SIMS and save 370 hours (or 10 weeks of admin time) a year. Use electronic registration and eliminate correcting and scanning OMR sheets – saving approximately 39 days per year.

Primary schools can gain an average of two to three hours of administration time per week using SIMS Dinner Money – larger primaries will save even more time.

Data acts as a catalyst for more customised teaching and learning.

Replace 200 phone calls per week at 25p with texts from SIMS InTouch @ 6p.

Switch to text and email for communicating with parents, pupils and staff and an average secondary school can save 450 hours, 39,000 pieces of paper and £8,000 per year. An average primary school can save 120 hours, 6,750 pieces of paper and £2,200 per year.

“Communications are now streamlined, saving valuable staff time. Parents are also more willing to get in touch about any concerns, helping us support pupils more effectively.”

“Parents can log in anywhere and see an overview of their child’s information in real time.”

We can identify vulnerable groups with just a few pupils in them and monitor their progress. Using SIMS Profiles for pupil report writing can save 30 minutes per pupil report. 30 pupils = 15 hours. In a school of 80 staff = 150 days, assuming an eight-hour day. 0845 460 4078 2 | 2013 | FREEDOM to focus


Welcome to

Introduction by Phil Neal


chool leaders have so many demands on their time, it’s possible to be distracted from a focus on teaching and learning. SIMS founder and managing director Phil Neal explains how management information systems (MIS) can give you the freedom to focus on what’s important: the pupils in your care. SIMS is an amazing resource. It can help pupils achieve more, behave better and improve standards. It can manage pupil and staff information across all areas of school life and even facilitate parental engagement. It builds a complete picture of every pupil – and your school as a whole. Take SIMS Discover, as an example. This 2013 Bett Award and 2012 Education Resources Award (ERA) winning software package allows you to analyse your data and present it in a variety of visual ways, including Venn diagrams, bar charts and pie charts. Its use of drag and drop simplifies analysis, meaning all school staff can easily manage and understand their own data. Arguably its most valuable asset is that it can alert you to trends. For example, when a pupil has amassed a certain amount of behaviour points, or when attendance falls below 90 per cent. It also shows the links that exist between children’s attainment and their attendance and behaviour. Once the information is at your fingertips, you can act on it and change outcomes for the better, for example, a child who’s attendance has dropped to below 90% and has more than 50 behaviour points. With SIMS you can go deeper. Parental involvement is a key part of pupil attainment. SIMS Learning Gateway provides secure online access to your school’s information, which can be accessed by parents and teachers anytime from anywhere. Used in conjunction with SIMS InTouch, which combines text and email, even hard-to-reach parents

can stay updated on their child’s progress via short, to-the-point text messages which encourage them to get involved in school life, for example, receiving a text to say that their child has just been given a commendation. SIMS InTouch can automate processes in the school office too by alerting staff to important events or incidents. This can include automatic alerts when a teacher hasn’t updated a Marksheet or when a behaviour incident is logged in SIMS. SIMS Learning Gateway is now better than ever and features a new user interface for the pupil summary page for improved access to the SIMS information for parents, pupils and teachers. Parents and pupils can access this information on the go via their mobile phone with our mobile browser. SIMS is a resource that is constantly evolving and offering you more. Our new product, SIMS Agora enables parents to pay online for items, including uniforms, school trips, school dinners and much more. Not only does this lower costs, it also helps cut down on bullying, as fewer children carry money to school. We are constantly enhancing the SIMS suite with solutions that support schools in their quest to use data efficiently to drive school improvement. This includes enhancements to SIMS Personnel to manage staff performance which enables schools to capture all elements, from lesson observations to objective-setting and reviews. You should also look out for a new and improved SIMS Homepage and Teacher Pupil View to make it easier to analyse the information presented. In short, as a school leader, you can’t afford to be without SIMS.

contents list


 Behaviour: SIMS software is a really powerful tool when it comes to changing attitudes.





 Attendance: Having accurate data at your fingertips will help you to improve attendance at your school.


you to make targeted interventions with pupils.

 Attainment: SIMS can play a major role when it comes to boosting attainment allowing

 Communication/saving money: Whether it’s keeping parents informed or managing budgets, SIMS can help you to be more effective and efficient.  Inspections: It’s vitally important to have the facts at your fingertips when HMI pay a visit.

Inspectors expect you to know if any cohort of pupils is struggling and what you’re going to do about it.


 Inspection advice: Five valuable tips on how to use data to your advantage.


 SIMS at a glance: Support, training and hardware – SIMS is much more than just software. FREEDOM to focus | 2013 |  3


“Pupils no longer face any disruption to learning from their peers” The impact of using SIMS to improve behaviour is hard to overstate. When examples of both good and bad behaviour are recorded, it brings a holistic solution that can transform the atmosphere in a school

“The new system has received positive comments from parents and pupils” 4 | 2013 | FREEDOM to focus


ehaviour at school does would go unrecorded and not exist in a vacuum. unnoticed. One school, he says, School: Witchford Bad behaviour in the has a policy of intervening after Village College classroom can disrupt three such incidents have been pupils and affect recorded – which has had a Pupils: 800 achievement. “huge impact” on behaviour. Conversely, rewarding At Witchford Village College Age range: 11-16 good behaviour can in Cambridgeshire every Location: Cambridgeshire incentivise pupils and create a behavioural incident, whether it positive atmosphere. is good or bad, is recorded using Sex: Mixed “More and more schools are SIMS. This means disciplinary measuring positive as well as action can be taken straight Ofsted: Good negative behaviour,” says Graham away when it comes to bad Cooper, head of product strategy behaviour, says David Taylor, at Capita. Schools can use SIMS to the school’s head teacher. record a range of behaviours, with point Incidents of positive actions are shared widely scores awarded for each action. The data can with parents, and with pupils and staff be broken down in a variety of ways – for throughout the school at assemblies. example, by class, or by time of day. “This is a very powerful tool for driving attainment and Significant impact spotting early interventions,” says Graham. Pupils are rewarded in several ways. As well as Collecting the data is just the beginning – acting stickers, certificates and non-uniform days, they quickly when bad behaviour is recorded is key to earn points for good behaviour such as working turning attitudes around, says Phil Neal, managing hard, helping other pupils, or taking part in director of Capita SIMS. extracurricular activities. These points can be “An old-fashioned school would record incidents spent online on treats such as cinema tickets or on paper and take a week to process them – by free lunches at the school. which time the pupil would have forgotten the This positive endorsement helps to create an incident that occurred in the first place. Now, environment where pupils know that their everything is recorded electronically as it happens. good behaviour will be rewarded, says David, Schools often have a behaviour coordinator. They adding that SIMS has had a “significant will see the incident immediately and give instant impact” on bullying at the school. The statistics feedback – it makes a huge difference,” he says. show that the school has successfully reduced He adds that recording low-level behaviours – incidents of bullying by 75 per cent since using such as cheekiness or ‘messing around’ in class – the software. also has an impact. Previously, small incidents SIMS software allows the school to interpret


75% The software provides a complete picture of what children are doing in terms of good as well as bad behaviour

Bullying incidents at Witchford Village have reduced by 75 per cent


“We are aware of any issues as they emerge and can target interventions where needed” the data in several ways. For example, in the Persistent absence has dropped well below the case of bullying, the school can see if national average,” the Ofsted report said. incidents are occurring in a specific lesson or at a specific time, and cross-check that Holistic strategy against the individual achievement of the In Falmouth, Cornwall, SIMS is also helping pupils involved. to improve behaviour. Alex George, the “It’s been really positive – we have got a assistant head teacher at Falmouth School, complete picture of what is happening, and we says the school uses SIMS in a variety of are aware of any issues as they emerge. We can ways, including to help improve behaviour. target interventions exactly where they are “If an incident occurs, staff enter the details needed,” says David. The feedback from into SIMS and the pupil automatically receives teaching staff and parents has been “brilliant”, a detention the next day. This has had an he adds. “We can now spend time on dealing immediate impact, as pupils know misconduct with minor behaviour incidents and positive will not be tolerated,” he says. “We have behaviour management. Tackling bullying has significantly reduced the number of incidents successfully affected over the past year, and the achievement and attendance figure is still falling. Pupils no School: Falmouth School at the school.” longer face any disruption to Ofsted has taken notice. learning from their peers.” Pupils: 1,100 In 2010, the school’s most Tackling behaviour is a key recent inspection, inspectors part of the school’s holistic Age range: 11-18 noted that behaviour had strategy, says Alex: “By Location: Falmouth, improved “significantly”. addressing low attainment, Cornwall “The new behaviourbehaviour or lateness head-on, management system setting ambitious targets and Sex: Mixed received positive comments closely monitoring our from parents and pupils. progress, we can be sure that Ofsted: Good The college has worked hard every child leaves our school and to considerable effect with the best possible start on to improve attendance. the next stage of their journey.”

66% In 2005, 41 per cent of Falmouth pupils got 5 A*-C GCSEs, including English and maths. By 2011, it was 66 per cent


SIMS Core Suite SIMS Behaviour Management SIMS Assessment SIMS Discover FREEDOM to focus | 2013 |  5


“Without SIMS, we’d be completely lost. We use it in lots of ways” Poor attendance reflects badly on schools and can jeopardise the life chances of pupils as they fail to gain the qualifications and skills they need for adult life. SIMS software has proven results when it comes to improving attendance


upil absence can be a class, year or family group, persistent problem for for example. School: Wistaston schools, says Phil Green Primary School Neal, the managing Reward good attendance director of Capita Wendy Stones is Wistaston Pupils: 340 SIMS. Children who Green Primary School’s family Age range: 3-11 spend too much time support worker. The school is out of school may on the outskirts of Crewe, and Location: Crewe, Cheshire find it hard to catch up, putting pupils come from an area of their future achievement at high socio-economic Sex: Mixed risk. As well as truancy deprivation. In 2010, the Ofsted: Good and sickness, increasing school was classed as a ‘red numbers of pupil absences school’, with attendance are due to unauthorised running below 93 per cent. term-time holidays. The school embarked on “Whether the issue is cheaper family a push to increase attendance, says Wendy, holidays, truancy or difficulties at home, and last year its efforts paid off – attendance recording and studying what we know will hit 96.4 per cent. help schools to ensure children’s needs are “Without SIMS, we’d be completely lost,” met,” he says. “We need to act now to ensure she says. “We calculate the minutes children that frequent absence from the classroom are late, for example, which can make a big doesn’t jeopardise their chances of gaining the difference. If they are missing lessons, we qualifications and skills they need in adult life.” In his review on improving school attendance, Charlie Taylor, the Government’s adviser on behaviour, said problems associated with absence from class can begin when children are four. However, with the use of SIMS, non-attendance can be tracked electronically by schools. Registration tools mean teachers can record registration directly into the school’s computers. This means that absence patterns are much easier to spot. In addition, sophisticated tools in SIMS allow school staff to set alerts when pupils miss school, and allow users to analyse data in several ways – by day of the week, time of day,

“All staff are engaged in using SIMS to provide information to assist teaching and learning”

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Teachers find it much easier to spot absence patterns when they use SIMS tools that allow them to record registration directly into the school’s computers every day


96.4% Wistaston Green Primary has raised attendance from 93 per cent to 96.4 per cent


“Our SIMS coverage is comprehensive and forms the key elements of our monitoring and progress reporting on a number of levels” can then put a punctuality plan in place.” unauthorised absences quickly, for example, by Having the data on hand also means that it is setting detention at lunchtimes if pupils are easier to work with parents, says Wendy. “You persistently late in the morning. “It’s acting on can compare siblings and if they are off on the things so quickly that makes such a huge same day we can raise it with parents – all the difference,” says Phil Neal. information is there at the click of a button.” At St James’s CE High School in Farnworth, The school uses the data in a weekly Bolton, attendance has been rising every year attendance assembly, where it is shared with since 2009, and is now 96.3 per cent across the children who are aware that the school’s the whole school. Deputy head teacher Roy attendance target is 96 per cent. Rewarding good Coulson says: “Our SIMS coverage is attendance is a key part of the strategy. “We comprehensive. It forms the key element of have a reward scheme, so every our monitoring and progress child whose attendance hits 96 reporting on a number of School: St James’s CE per cent or above gets a prize levels. All staff are engaged in High School and an attendance-effort using SIMS to provide badge,” Wendy says. information to assist teaching Pupils: 1,000 and learning, and ultimately Acting quickly pupil progress.” Age range: 11-16 In secondary schools, The school is one of only two Location: Bolton attendance management tools ‘Outstanding’ schools in Bolton, are used in the same way – and as judged by Ofsted in 2011. Sex: Mixed school staff monitor attendance Inspectors noted that on a lesson-by-lesson basis “attendance at the school was Ofsted: Outstanding using SIMS Lesson Monitor. very high and reflects pupils’ Having data available readily enjoyment of and commitment means schools can act on to the school.”

96.3% Attendance at Bolton’s St James CE High School has risen to 96.3 per cent


SIMS Core Suite SIMS Attendance SIMS Lesson Monitor SIMS InTouch SIMS Learning Gateway FREEDOM to focus | 2013 |  7


“Data acts as a catalyst for more customised teaching and learning” Can a software package such as SIMS really raise attainment at your school? The short answer is yes, and it applies equally to primary and secondary education. Many schools, including Featherstone High in London and Hatfield Primary in Sheffield, can show you how


aising attainment is a attendance level or prior complex issue, affected attainment. School: Featherstone High by deprivation, “All schools are about parental involvement driving standards and raising Pupils: 1,200 and behaviour, among attainment – that is the main Age range: 11-16 many other factors. job of the school, and there However, keeping on are a range of tools they Location: Southall, top of the data your have at their disposal to help London school produces is vital in any raise attainment, including improvement strategy. SIMS,” he says. “There is lots Sex: Mixed “Exam results are hard-andof data sitting inside SIMS. fast data points and easily The question is: what is it Ofsted: Outstanding understood,” says Julie Booth, actually telling you – what Capita’s head of independent are the patterns and stories schools. “Schools set their own within the data?” interim tests, and children sit tests at the start Using the interactive drag-and-drop tools of key stages.” within SIMS Discover can help schools explore School staff can use SIMS Discover to gather exactly what they need to know in order to all these test results and analyse them to raise standards, says Graham. “If you spot a ensure that pupils remain on track. For pupil going off the rails, you can do something example, the software can be set so it sends an about it, and if you see that pupils receiving alert when a pupil is falling behind on targets. free school meals aren’t doing well, you can ask “It’s little things like this that are built into its yourself what are you doing about it?” he says. functionality that help to ensure every child is reaching their potential,” says Julie. Best exam results Graham Cooper, head of product strategy at Featherstone High School in London is Capita, says that schools can use their data attended by more than a thousand pupils. It is much more efficiently in order to dig deep into situated in an area of high cultural diversity – the factors affecting attainment – for example, 71 per cent of pupils speak English as an by comparing attainment by class, year, gender, additional language. There is also a degree of deprivation, with more than one-third of pupils receiving free school meals. Additionally, 27 per cent of children have special educational needs. However, the school achieved its best ever exam results this year, with 66 per cent of pupils gaining five

“At Featherstone, 71 per cent of pupils speak English as an additional language” 8 | 2013 | FREEDOM to focus


96% of children at Hatfield have made at least two levels of progress from Level Two in English since year two, and 100% achieved this in maths


“There are many things that we do, but SIMS plays a major part in our success” A*-C grades at GCSE, including English and Both schools were failing and located in one of maths, compared with 53 per cent in 2011. the most disadvantaged areas in the country. 96 per cent of pupils achieved A*-C grades in Since then, attainment has risen rapidly at GCSE subjects excluding English and maths, the schools. Chris Hobson, head teacher of the up from 80 per cent in 2011. Hatfield and Hartley Brook Primary Trust, says “It’s the biggest year-on-year rise we’ve using SIMS to monitor and analyse pupil experienced,” says Neil Bradford, the school’s progress has been crucial. deputy head. The school uses a range of tools to help raise attainment, including extra Standards are rising revision classes and online resources. It also She says: “Teachers are alerted to specific forges links with parents, giving them regular problems, as the data highlights updates and information on their children’s underperformance in a particular area. This progress via SIMS. allows them to put appropriate learning “There are many things that we do, but strategies in place and then track progress.” SIMS plays a major part in our success,” says At Hatfield, this has contributed to great Neil. “Everyone uses it and results: 96 per cent of children understands it. It helps us to made at least two levels of School: Hatfield Primary know how every individual, progress from Level Two class and year group is in English since year two, and Pupils: 400 performing in each subject. 100 per cent achieved this in This helps us pinpoint where maths. At Hartley Brook, 96 Age range: 5-11 we need to work harder.” per cent of children achieved Location: Sheffield, It has been a similar this leap in English, and 91 per South Yorkshire success story at Hatfield in maths. Average progress Primary School in north nationally is 85 per cent. Sex: Mixed Sheffield. The school joined Chris says: “The data acts as forces with Hartley Brook a catalyst for more customised Ofsted: Good Primary in 2009 in order to teaching and learning. This create a partnership that raises expectations as well would help to raise standards. as overall standards.”

66% of pupils achieved five A* - C grade GCSEs, including English and maths, at Featherstone High School compared with 53 per cent in 2011


SIMS Core Suite SIMS Assessment SIMS Discover FREEDOM to focus | 2013 |  9


“Communication has been made so much easier” Using SIMS software means that schools and parents alike aren’t left in the dark about attendance, behaviour, grades or reports. Schools can also plan their budgets much more effectively School: St Bede’s Catholic School and Sixth Form Pupils: 1,500 Age range: 11-18 Location: County Durham Sex: Mixed Ofsted: Outstanding

School: The Magna Carta School Pupils: 1,200 Age range: 11-16 Location: Surrey Sex: Mixed Ofsted: Good

10 | 2013 | FREEDOM to focus


hen it comes to running a successful school, effective communication is a vital component, the days of sending letters to parents are almost a thing of the past. “You can now do shopping and banking online, so why should your child’s school report be any different?” asks Julie Booth, Capita’s head of independent schools. Andrew Freeman, director of ICT at St Bede’s in County Durham, a secondary school with 1,500 pupils and 170 staff, agrees. “SIMS is our management system that, as a school, we use day-in, day-out to measure attendance, exam grades, behaviour and more,” he says. The school uses SIMS Learning Gateway which allows parents to log into the SIMS system to look at stored information relevant to their child. Andrew says: “Communication has been made a lot easier, because we give access to information to parents. They can log in anywhere and see an overview of their child’s information in real time, including attendance, behaviour, school reports, assessments and grades.”

Communication streamlined

When The Magna Carta School in Surrey moved to SIMS, it improved communication. The secondary academy has used SIMS InTouch extensively. Exams, data and SIMS manager Julie Allen says: “We use it to help improve attendance. It’s useful to be able to inform parents of an absence. We also use it to notify them about events, such as parents’ evenings, and for emailing reports.” Assistant head James Thorpe adds: “Communications are now streamlined, saving valuable staff time. Parents are also

more willing to get in touch about any concerns, perhaps if they notice a pattern of absence. This level of parental engagement helps us support pupils more effectively.” Graham Cooper, Capita’s head of product strategy, says SIMS InTouch works with SIMS Learning Gateway as a ‘push and pull model’. “We push short, snappy communications out to parents through texts and emails – such as a reminder for parent’s evening – and these communications pull them towards SIMS Learning Gateway, which contains information about their child over a long period of time, for example, their attendance record for the whole year, or all of their school reports.” SIMS InTouch can even send detention messages to inform parents about it. However, it can do far more than send out communications to parents. It can also automate processes in the school office by alerting staff to important events or incidents. If, for example, a teacher hasn’t updated a Marksheet by a specified date, an alert can be automatically set up; or when a behaviour incident is logged in SIMS

“By virtually eliminating paperbased financial processes, we have much greater control over our cash flow”


64% Since implementing electronic billing, Ruthin School receives 64 per cent of its revenue from fees at least three weeks early – which amounts to £1 million in every billing run


“Parents pay fees by electronic bank transfer, rather than cheque, allowing the school to “Communications are control its cash flow more effectively” an automatic alert can be 60 per cent of our parents living sent to teachers. Using the overseas, paper invoices could School: Ruthin School system also saves money – get lost in the post,” says Toby schools no longer print Belfield, the school’s head. Pupils: 200 reports, which saves on “Time zones also made it Age range: 11-18 postage, stationery costs difficult to resolve issues by and staff time. Instead, phone and this meant payments Location: Denbighshire parents receive a text alert to us were often delayed.” that their child’s report is The school decided to use Founded: 1284 online. This costs the SIMS Fees Billing, which Sex: Mixed school six pence per text, automates the billing process, compared with a 40–50p using email to send invoices. Sector: Independent postage cost. Parents pay fees by bank transfer, “We do give parents the rather than cheque, giving the choice to opt out if they school the ability to control its still want a printed report,” says Andrew. cash flow more effectively. “Only 14 parents out of 1,500 have opted The school also pays staff and suppliers out so far.” electronically – making paper-based financial processes almost a thing of the past. School Billing is simplified staff are paid by BACS with payslips issued Independent schools are also using SIMS to by email. Suppliers are also paid help save money. Ruthin School in north electronically - SIMS already stores details Wales has switched from a paper-based for them, so staff can simply press a button invoicing system to an electronic one. The on the same day each month to pay any school is a combined boarding and day school outstanding bills. for UK and international pupils, which made “By virtually eliminating paper-based billing a complicated process. financial processes, we have greater control “Our previous fees billing process was over cash flow, which is central to running an incredibly time-consuming and with almost efficient and effective business,” says Toby.

now streamlined, saving valuable staff time. Parents are also more willing to get in touch about any concerns, helping us support pupils more effectively” The Magna Carta School assistant head James Thorpe


SIMS Learning Gateway SIMS InTouch SIMS Fees Billing SIMS Financial Management System FREEDOM to focus | 2013 |  11


“Data plays an enormously important role in underpinning progress” Effective use of data can empower teachers and drive learning – it is also vital when it comes to inspections, say school leaders at Wimbledon Chase Primary School and Carmel College in County Durham


hanges to the statistics on pupil attendance, inspection system behaviour and attainment. School: Wimbledon mean English This kind of analysis is a mark Chase Primary School schools can of a school that is responsive now be subject and reactive, says Graham Pupils: 550 to ‘short-notice’ Cooper, Capita’s head of inspections. The product strategy. “If you know Age-range: 3-11 ‘satisfactory’ grade what’s going on in your school, has also been replaced with you can show that you’re Location: London ‘requires improvement’. The taking steps to deal with it,” Sex: Mixed changes mean that keeping he says. “When the inspectors track of data and using it come through the door, you Ofsted: Outstanding effectively is increasingly need to find the answers to important. Most schools the questions they’re collect data to a greater or asking quickly.” lesser extent, but it’s the regular and effective analysis of that data Detailed analysis that is the crucial next step – and one that Using data stored in SIMS Discover, school can make the difference between a ‘good’ staff can show inspectors key statistics in an school and an ‘outstanding’ one. easy-to-understand format. The latter can be “Many schools that were put into the crucial, as not all inspectors have the same lower categories following previous background knowledge and experience when inspections have had to become good at it comes to analysing data. analysing data. Some schools that didn’t do At Wimbledon Chase Primary School in this have been left behind,” says Jan Webber, London, SIMS Discover has allowed the Ofsted specialist at the Association of School school to track the progress of different and College Leaders (ASCL). groups, such as children with English as an SIMS Discover enables school staff to carry additional language, more effectively and out detailed analysis of data, including efficiently. Prior to using the software, the school used to print off pupil progress reports and look at them on paper, a process that Catherine Roberts, the deputy head, says used to take “quite literally, days”. SIMS Discover now simplifies and speeds up this process, she says: “We can identify vulnerable groups with just a few pupils in

“We can identify vulnerable groups with just a few pupils in them and monitor their progress” 12 | 2013 | FREEDOM to focus


95% At Carmel College, 95 per cent of pupils achieved 5 A*-C GCSEs, including English and maths in 2012


“Tenacious analysis of data ensures that work is matched to their needs and interests” them and monitor their progress. It ensures is another success story. Using SIMS, the we are addressing everyone’s needs.” school has implemented a rigorous system A few months after the school began to use that assesses pupils against national curriculum SIMS Discover, an inspection took place. Instead criteria or GCSE grades three times a year. of giving inspectors data that was three months The children are given targets to be met that old, the school had information that was increase as they progress. “Everything is in completely up-to-date on hand. our management information system, “Children can make quite a bit of progress enabling us to analyse data effectively,” says from February to May, so it made a real Janice Gorlach, the school’s vice-principal. difference,” Catherine says. “I was fully “We make it straightforward so that teachers prepared for all of their enquiries as I had can immediately spot any cause for concern.” everything in front of me. They asked me how This effective data management has the children on free school meals were doing contributed to an ‘Outstanding’ rating from and I could be exact. I was also able to show Ofsted at its most recent inspection. the precise percentage of pupils who had made “Data plays an enormously important role six or more sub-levels of in underpinning progress,” progress from Key Stage One says Janice. “Our pastoral and School: Carmel College, to Key Stage Two. It was academic structures are a Catholic Academy wonderful to have that totally integrated, as all staff information at my fingertips.” work together with children Pupils: 1,200 The school was upgraded to secure outstanding from ‘good with elements of achievements, wherever their Age-range: 11-19 outstanding’ to ‘outstanding’ starting points and needs.” Location: Darlington overall. It was last inspected The inspectors agreed – in May 2012, and remains an their report noted that the Sex: Mixed ‘outstanding’ school. “tenacious analysis by staff of pupil performance data Ofsted: Outstanding Rigorous system ensures that work is well Carmel College, a Catholic matched to their needs Academy in County Durham, and interests.”

Wimbledon Chase Primary upgraded from ‘good with elements of outstanding’ to ‘outstanding’ overall following clear analysis of pupil performance data


SIMS Core Suite SIMS Assessment SIMS Discover FREEDOM to focus | 2013 |  13


As a school leader, you need accurate information at your fingertips when the inspectors come calling. Using your MIS to its full potential is increasingly a hallmark of ‘good’ and ‘outstanding’ schools

an inspection is only a phone call away

It’s time to embrace technology with open arms

While it can be reassuring to stick to tried and tested measures, tide and time wait for no-one. Printing out reports and posting them has been replaced by email; payments are made easier by using BACS. If you want to know how your pupils with English as an additional language have progressed with their numeracy over the past six months, you just need a few clicks of the mouse. As deputy head Catherine Roberts notes in our behaviour article: “We can identify vulnerable groups with just a few pupils in them and monitor their progress. It ensures we are addressing everyone’s needs.” Head teacher Chris Hobson hits the nail on the head in our attainment feature when she says: “Data acts as a catalyst for more customised teaching and learning. It raises expectations and standards.”

Use all the tools at your disposal

When it comes to data, there can be no complacency. Schools are under pressure to keep standards high. Inspectors will come armed with figures and preconceptions, but, in the words of Jan Webber, Ofsted specialist at ASCL and the former head at Longton High School in Stoke-onTrent, “It is then the job of the school to support or disprove their hypothesis with their own data.” What marks out the good and outstanding schools is the breadth and depth of detail they provide and the way they respond to the analysis. In a poll of ASCL members, all agreed that data was important in informing school improvement decisions, yet more than a third only used their MIS as an ‘electronic filing cabinet’ or for accessing data when a specific problem was identified.

“What marks out good and outstanding schools is the breadth and depth of detail they provide” 14 | 2013 | FREEDOM to focus

Take control

Inspectors want to see that heads have a close grip on every aspect of their school. It follows that school leaders need to be experts in their MIS. It’s not something to be delegated to the IT teacher, deputy head or the school business manager. Having the MIS embedded in the daily life of the school and used to its full potential is increasingly essential. With a continuous flow of up-to-the-minute information, schools can track and analyse pupil and staff data allowing them to spot potential issues as they arise.

Dig deep and wide

Data on vulnerable children (EAL, FSM, SEN, LAC) or other userdefined groups can be scrutinised across a class, year group or on a school-wide basis. This allows for simple data analyses to be undertaken, such as examining the progress of girls against boys, as well as more detailed analysis and year-upon-year comparisons. If, 18 months ago, you identified your core poor attendees and put strategies in place to address the issue, you can see if your efforts have had an affect on attendance today. Even if attendance is above the national average, you will need to show what action is being taken to improve the figure further.

It’s not just for pupils

With increased responsibilities for teacher development, the ability for schools to analyse the results of an NQT against an experienced member of staff can help identify where more training and support may be needed. By considering how different teachers, classes or subjects are progressing, subject and school leaders can uncover a teacher’s strengths and use the information to inform their CPD requirements and their curriculum management decisions. Inspectors will be also looking for evidence that teachers deserve to be on the pay scale that they are on.


Get ahead of the game


More than just software

SIMS Learning Gateway

SIMS can install a new server or network for you or provide you with expert staff on-site

We offer a complete solution to your school’s needs. We can provide technical support for all your software and hardware; we also offer technical services and staff cover for SIMS, FMS and any IT infrastructure. We offer training and consultancy

Work with us to ensure all your staff get more out of the data held in SIMS. If you have new members of staff, or there are those who need a refresher, our courses can teach them the shortcuts and best practice derived from years of user feedback and our in-house knowledge. We can train school staff on any of our 120 courses in 20 locations across England. training Or let us bring the training to you

All our courses can be

keep in touch Subscribe to Achieve This is our monthly email newsletter Follow us on Twitter @CapitaSIMS View our YouTube channel for all the latest Did you know and product videos at Read our SIMS Blog

SIMS Agora

Introducing SIMS videos

SIMS Discover video

delivered at your school. For bespoke consultancy tailored to your specific needs, call 0844 893 9000. We can find the hardware

Are you looking for server upgrades or hardware such as iPads or mobile devices? SIMS offers expert advice on choosing the most suitable solution for all your hardware and software needs, and we will source equipment for you at very competitive rates.

SIMS InTouch (Primary) video

We can support SIMS

From support on SIMS and other software packages, to system recovery and advice on making the best use of your IT resources, Whole Support provides the expertise to ensure it’s still business as usual.

SIMS InTouch (Secondary) video

The new SIMS Homepage

find out more Services, support and training

SIMS Learning Gateway (Primary) video

0844 893 6000 Products 0845 460 4078

SIMS Learning Gateway (Secondary) video

Capita SIMS | Franklin Court, Priory Business Park, Cardington, Bedfordshire, MK44 3JZ | 01234 838 080 | | Freedom to Focus is published by Redactive Publishing Ltd | | Account director: Anthony Moran | Editor: Steve Smethurst | Writer: Fay Schopen | Art editor: Gene Cornelius © Freedom To Focus is published on behalf of Capita SIMS by Redactive Publishing Ltd, 17 Britton St, London EC1M 5TP. Articles do not necessarily reflect the views of Capita SIMS nor should such opinions be relied upon as statements of fact. All rights reserved. This publication may not be reproduced, transmitted or stored in any print or electronic format, including but not limited to any online service, any database or any part of the internet, or in any other format in whole or in part in any media whatsoever, without the prior written permission of the publisher. While all due care is taken in writing and producing this magazine, neither Capita SIMS nor Redactive accept any liability for the accuracy of the contents or any opinions expressed herein. Printed by Stephens & George Print Group.

FREEDOM to focus | 2013 |  15

SIMS5066 v 2 01/2013

Online payments solution from SIMS SIMS Agora provides a cost-efficient, secure and easy way for schools to collect payments from parents and sell school items online. Parents can pay for school meals, trips, uniforms and much more online, providing a more convenient and flexible way to pay.

Want to know more? visit email call 0845 460 4074

Capita SIMS, Franklin Court, Priory Business Park, Cardington, Bedford MK44 3JZ Tel: 01234 838080 | Fax: 01234 832036 | Email: | Registered office: 71 Victoria Street, Westminster, London SW1H 0XA | Registered in England No. 2299747. Part of Capita plc.

Freedom to Focus April 2013  

Freedom to Focus April 2013

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