Consistent data a school can trust Consistently accurate and up-to-date information; excellent service levels; and an easy-to-use system that ‘couldn’t be simpler’ – these are just some of the gains that Kent College Pembury has experienced in the four years since it implemented the PASS Management Information solution from WCBS. When Director of ICT Bill Burles arrived at Tunbridge Wells based Kent College in 2003, he was not happy with the Management Information system he found in place. “It wasn’t simply that there was a wide array of databases, containing a quantity of inaccurate information that didn’t tally across areas of the school or departments. Just as disappointing was the attitude of the company providing the core solution. I quickly got the feeling that they were too big to build proper client relationships.”
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decided to compare the wider PASS offering directly with the existing system. “There was no contest,” he remembers now. “Apart from the opportunity to have a single database and the far superior service levels, there was the crucial factor that PASS is based on Microsoft SQL technology, which is where I wanted us to be.” For Bill, though, the critical factor was the inconsistency of information. This meant that neither the academic nor the administrative staff could rely on the accuracy or relevance of the data held on pupils and their families in either the preparatory or senior schools, which between them are responsible for the education of 550 girls aged from 3 to 18. There was, however, one area of the school that Bill found satisfactory. “This was the Bursary,” he says. “As one of a group of 14 Methodist schools, we were required to use the PASS system from WCBS for our financial management needs.” An excellent starting point So, when he started the process of identifying a single-database solution for the whole school he saw PASS as an excellent starting point. “I felt that WCBS was large enough to give me the reassurance that they would still be around for many years, yet small and focused enough to give me the personal attention of a director who I could talk to whenever I wanted.” Rather than carry out a widespread ‘beauty parade’ of potential new suppliers, Bill
“After the first year of using the PASS Reports module, I carried out a survey among academic staff to find out what they thought of it. An overwhelming 85% told me that it was a significant improvement.”
A striking improvement
An academic focus
The first advance that Bill noticed was in the quality of support provided by WCBS, which the school relied on quite regularly during and
“In my experience, teachers hate writing reports more than any other duty,” he says. “Before the move to WCBS, we were using a clunky process involving Microsoft Word and Mailmerge, which people found slow and inefficient. So, after the first year of using the PASS Reports module, I carried out a survey among academic staff to find out what they thought of it.
“I felt that WCBS was large enough to give me the reassurance that they would still be around for many years, yet small and focused enough to give me the personal attention.” immediately after system implementation. “The difference was very striking, with remote diagnosis and fix undertaken by people who really cared about our progress.” Moving forwards, Bill was keen to rapidly establish some key ‘wins’ with the school’s academic staff. As part of the first wave of implementation, therefore, he focused on their biggest bugbear – reports.
“An overwhelming 85% told me that it was a significant improvement, which is an extraordinarily high rating for any new system. Now, I’m confident that we would get a 100% rating.” Bill is not surprised by this positive response. “The module is just so easy to use,” he says. “For example, a small but important point, each entry shows a picture of the pupil concerned, so there is no room for confusion.”
Logical and intuitive
This simplicity extends to the full range of PASS functionality, and in Bill’s opinion this makes staff across the school much more willing to use it. “It presents all the information they need in one place, presented in a very logical and intuitive way, and they can access it whenever they want – including using reports from home. Personally, I don’t see how it could be any simpler or easier to use.”
Administratively, too, PASS is having a significant positive effect on Kent College. Bill takes two simple examples. “We’re able to save a great deal of time and money by using email to keep parents informed, reducing our use of resources and streamlining contact with them” he continues. “This is also certainly the preferred method of communication for most parents today.
“It presents all the information they need in one place, presented in a very logical and intuitive way, and they can access it whenever they want.” Critically, he believes the PASS approach can actively contribute to a better education for the school’s pupils. “It is already possible to track the full history of a pupil from initial enquiry to alumnus, using the same data all the way through,” he says. “And with the forthcoming PASS pupil performance tracking module, on which we are very keen, we’ll be able to measure precisely and easily the academic progress of a pupil over the years, enabling us better to focus on the areas that will have the greatest impact on results.”
“Organising school trips too has never been easier. Teachers now have all the information they need in one place, from medical and allergy information to emergency contact numbers. This has lightened the admin load enormously, and is reflected in other areas of the school as well from sports to clubs and hobbies.”
Bill too is gaining directly from this simplicity. “In the past, if I wished to see how much of my budget I had spent, I would have to wait for a monthly report. Now, because we have only one database, I can simply put my budget code into the Nominal Ledger and find what I need to know immediately.” “Organising school trips too has never been easier. Teachers now have all the information they need in one place, from medical and allergy information to emergency contact numbers. This has lightened the admin load enormously. ” Looking to the future In short, Bill is happy with PASS and is now keen to implement PASS.web, the web-browser interface that is set to make ‘any time, anywhere’ access to PASS even easier. “It’s the way ahead, enabling any authorised staff member to find the information they need whenever they want it,” he says.
I needed a system that’s easy to use a teacher, not an ICT expert. Our old school “ I’m system was so slow and awkward that I used to waste hours just trying to find information – and even then it wasn’t always accurate.
I got it with seems to understand how I think. It doesn’t “ PASS matter what I’m looking for – historic reports, exam results or allergy information – it gets me to the right place in a matter of seconds.
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