Management Information System (MIS) for schools
MAT Operations | School Operations
Category : Blog
When school systems are working well, you shouldn’t even notice they’re there. They should run in the background, helping you to speed through your daily admin and giving you all the information you need, when you need it. However, many schools find that over the years, they’ve somehow accumulated lots of different IT systems that
When school systems are working well, you shouldn’t even notice they’re there. They should run in the background, helping you to speed through your daily admin and giving you all the information you need, when you need it.
However, many schools find that over the years, they’ve somehow accumulated lots of different IT systems that only do one job each.
A messy network of systems which don’t “communicate” with each other, also leaves your student data in lots of different places. This puts an added burden on staff who have to enter data manually multiple times over, and added risk of errors or things going missing.
If you counted the number of hours your staff spend every day entering data or logging into various systems to find information – it would really add up. This is valuable time that they could be spending on tasks that matter – like speaking to a parent, or supporting students in the classroom.
By auditing your school systems, you’ll spot immediately where cutting down on your systems could save costs and give staff quicker access to the information they need. You might be surprised by the amount of overlap you have where two or three systems could be replaced by just one.
For MATs, using lots of different systems becomes especially unsustainable when they grow to 5-10 schools or more. At this scale, consolidating and centralising systems can not only hugely cut costs, but will also allow staff across the trust to work together more easily. Dave Noble, Director of Operations at Red Kite Learning Trust, has a great example of his vision for centralisation.
The most important question to have in mind when you start reviewing each of your systems, is Why do we need it?
And more precisely:
What does it do that another system can’t?
Do staff use it frequently? If not, why?
Do staff use every feature of it?
For example, a school might have been using a behaviour tracking software for many years, and are happy with how it charts behaviour points over time. But this is the only feature they use this software for. In cases like this, and with many other systems that are an added cost, it’s worth questioning whether you could do it all within one tool – such as your MIS.
We recommend tackling your systems audit using this four step process. Many schools find it helpful to work in an Excel template like this:
How you can approach a systems audit
Start by listing out all the systems your staff use for their core tasks, like attendance, assessment, behaviour and communications. Remember to ask staff at all levels and from all areas across the school – don’t assume that one person will know what everyone is using!
Move on to listing the annual costs of each system. If you don’t have to pay for something annually and you already have it, you can mark the cost as £0. Make sure to split out all software products even if they’re from the same company because you might find one is more useful than the others.
Go back down your list and note each software’s functionality – not just what you’re currently using it for, but what it could do if you used every feature within it.
You’ll probably have come across several overlaps by now. This is the tricky part: for everything that overlaps, consider which has the greater value, and which you could think about cutting.
This value judgement can’t entirely be based on price, although that is important. You should also question why you had several systems in the first place. Is one of them more user-friendly? Is it quick to train new staff on? Could you get a better deal and a better product by getting rid of both altogether?
If you decide to cut out some of your systems, this might require a change in mindset for staff who have been used to working in a certain way for years.
Working now with over 1,200 schools, most of whom chose to move to Arbor MIS to consolidate their systems, we’ve seen schools manage this change and come out the other side with much more efficient ways of working.
Arbor brings together all your core school tasks into one place, giving everyone shared access to information and a shared view of progress. Staff save time by only having one login to remember and no longer having to transfer data manually between systems.
Of course, your audit might have shown you that some systems are worth keeping alongside your MIS, and that’s great – now you know you’re making a good investment. At Arbor, we integrate with over 30 powerful external systems to give you the flexibility to use the ones that work for you, whilst making sure your data is all joined up.
To find out more about how Arbor could help you work faster, smarter and more collaboratively, join a free webinar or arrange a personalised demo.
Tellmemore@arbor-education.com | 0208 050 1028
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