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The Arbor Blog

Expert ideas for a better working life at your school or trust

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Natasha Cobby - 10 May, 2022

Category : Blog

Share courses between schools

At Arbor, our MIS is designed to champion new and different ways of working across communities, schools and trusts. That’s why we are excited to launch our brand new module, Shared Teaching! Sharing courses and teaching resources across secondary schools and sixth forms is a fantastic way to widen your curriculum and give your students

At Arbor, our MIS is designed to champion new and different ways of working across communities, schools and trusts. That’s why we are excited to launch our brand new module, Shared Teaching!

Sharing courses and teaching resources across secondary schools and sixth forms is a fantastic way to widen your curriculum and give your students more choice. Whether it’s about increasing access to specialist subjects like art or music, or having to decide which course to run where budgets are tight – increasing the learning opportunities offered to students can make an incredible difference to their experience and future careers.

“We have a real message of equity and parity and making sure that if a student can do one thing in one school, they should be able to do it in another school. The fact they live five miles away shouldn’t restrict students when it comes to making important choices about their future. Where it has the most impact is with minority courses like drama, economics, and languages – which we just wouldn’t be able to run if we didn’t do shared teaching.”

Tom Hill, The Olympus Academy Trust


But, we know that sharing teaching can be a very time consuming and manual process for staff – which is why we’ve built the Shared Teaching module. It’s designed to take the heavy lifting out of shared course set up and administration, letting you share courses across schools with ease. 

Removing the burden of admin

Manual data inputting, constant emailing back and forth between schools, and complicated spreadsheets have defined the shared teaching experience for many school administrators and timetablers. Instead, our new module reduces the amount of manual process by letting schools manage timetabling and enrolment directly in their MIS. Only one person in the group has to set up the courses, and the classes will be pushed to all schools in the partnership.

Shared, but secure data

When schools are sharing students, it’s essential that they have a secure record of information to hand. Teachers need to be able to see important details such as medical needs or dietary requirements for all of their students, and in one place. With Shared Teaching, schools get an accurate, up-to-date record of shared students in their own MIS. Teachers can record attendance and assessment data for every student and it will instantly sync between their home and partner schools. 

Insights for every school

We know from speaking to schools who share courses that it can have a real, positive effect on students’ lives, so it’s important that schools can track and monitor the progress of their shared courses with reliable data. With this module, schools and MATs can run reports about shared courses at the course and student level, and for courses taught at both home and partner schools. No siloed data means all schools sharing courses together get comprehensive data and insights, such as progress or attainment.

For more information about Shared Teaching, view our handy guide or speak to your Account Manager.

If you don’t yet use Arbor, we’d love to speak to you: email hello@arbor-education.com and one of our team will be in contact.

Amy Underdown - 5 April, 2022

Category : Blog

Arbor x Socitm – Transforming Education

Click here to read our first whitepaper with Socitm.  We are delighted to have joined forces with the Society for Innovation Technology and Modernisation (Socitm).  Socitm is a leading membership organisation of more than 2,500 professionals, which is dedicated to inspiring change and progress throughout the public sector. Through events, publications and programmes, Socitm’s mission

Click here to read our first whitepaper with Socitm. 

We are delighted to have joined forces with the Society for Innovation Technology and Modernisation (Socitm). 

Socitm is a leading membership organisation of more than 2,500 professionals, which is dedicated to inspiring change and progress throughout the public sector. Through events, publications and programmes, Socitm’s mission is to help maximise the effective use of technologies and data across public service organisations and communities to improve outcomes for the public benefit.  

This goes hand in hand with Arbor’s mission to transform the way schools work through our cloud-based MIS (Management Information System). As the fastest-growing MIS community in the UK, and a dedication to changing the way schools work for the better through the technology we provide, it seemed fitting to work with Socitm on a number of projects throughout the coming year. 

Our joint commitment to driving digital transformation in the public sector led us to writing our first whitepaper together, called Transforming Education. The paper tackles many of the myths and concerns local authorities may face when embarking on large-scale digital change. You can read the paper here. 

We thought this was an especially pertinent topic given the changes in the MIS market, as well as our partnership with the Herts for Learning framework (HfL.) Over 200 schools in Hertfordshire were able to smoothly transition to Arbor’s cloud-based MIS through this framework, bringing their technology into the 21st century and helping the Local Authority to meet the needs of students, parents, teachers and school staff across their community. You can read about this partnership and hear from organisations about their move to the cloud here. 

If you’re thinking about making the switch to a cloud-based MIS and would like to hear how we can make that process less daunting, read our whitepaper here

Or, if you’re part of a Local Authority and would like to speak to us, click here to book a call with one of our friendly team members. 

Amy Underdown - 30 March, 2022

Category : Blog

Creating a joined-up secondary school – our brand new ebook!

Introducing Creating a Joined-Up School, our brand new ebook for secondary school staff.  Collaboration is often talked about as one of the key elements of a successful secondary school. But legacy IT systems and processes can make it hard for teams to work together seamlessly. Accessing data is difficult, reporting is complex and over-customisable, and

Introducing Creating a Joined-Up School, our brand new ebook for secondary school staff. 

Collaboration is often talked about as one of the key elements of a successful secondary school. But legacy IT systems and processes can make it hard for teams to work together seamlessly. Accessing data is difficult, reporting is complex and over-customisable, and student data is spread across multiple systems instead of being in one place. All of this leads to high workload and unnecessary stress, with roles becoming isolated, and staff singing from different hymn sheets. Crucially that means important information about students falls between the cracks. 

At Arbor, we believe that your MIS should help your team work more efficiently and effectively together in a more “joined up way”. Our philosophy is that an MIS should be built to be used and loved by all staff – from office staff, to teachers and senior leaders – giving schools one shared workspace to support each other and encourage collaboration. 

Diving into the benefits of a shared workspace

We wanted to dig deeper into exactly how our MIS is helping secondary school staff work better, together. In February 2022, we spoke to four pairs of secondary school staff to find out how they are making the most of Arbor to work more efficiently, effectively and collaboratively. 

Each of our interviewees emphasised that one key benefit of having a shared workspace was having visibility and transparency over every student, at all times. As well as this, having all changes made by any member of staff automatically update across the MIS, meaning every staff member is kept in the loop and information is always up to date. These benefits were felt across the range of roles we interviewed, including Headteachers, Data Managers, Exams Officers and SEN Admins. 

Our exciting ebook for secondary schools

We’ve compiled all of these interviews into a brand new Arbor ebook, featuring staff from Baxter College, Ralph Thoresby School, Droitwich Spa High School and The Grove School, part of Marches Academy Trust. The book explores what it means to have a joined-up secondary school, and how your MIS should encourage collaboration across all roles in your school. 

Each of these stories is intended to shine a light on why schools work better when they have access to a shared workspace – something that’s become all the more important in a post-Covid world. 

You can download Creating a Joined-Up Secondary School for free by clicking here. 

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Amy Underdown - 1 March, 2022

Category : Blog

The ultimate guide to improving communication with parents

Why is communicating with parents so important? Having good communication between parents and schools can make a big difference to a child’s education. When parents are more involved, students are often better-behaved, have higher attendance rates and a lower risk of exclusion. In turn, this leads to better results.   Support from home has become even

Why is communicating with parents so important?

Having good communication between parents and schools can make a big difference to a child’s education. When parents are more involved, students are often better-behaved, have higher attendance rates and a lower risk of exclusion. In turn, this leads to better results.  

Support from home has become even more important given the impact of Covid on schools. With students across the country attending school virtually during lockdown, communication with parents needed to be more consistent than ever to make sure that no students were left behind. 

The introduction of Ofsted’s ‘Parent View’ questionnaire and similar inspection tools is further proof of the importance of involving parents in their children’s education. 

Why do some schools struggle with a two-way communication approach?

Many things can get in the way of effective communication between parents and schools.  It can also be challenging for schools when they don’t have a system in place that allows parents to communicate back to them easily. 

Top tips for improving parent interaction using your MIS

1. Go paperless!

It’s time to say goodbye to paper slips and letters. With a cloud-based MIS, you can send emails, SMS messages or in-app messages to parents in bulk, or to certain groups. This not only saves time – and the environment! – but also means parents are notified of any new comms on-the-go and on their mobile phones, which encourages quicker responses and supports two-way interaction. 

With Arbor, you can send out messages to parents in bulk, to certain groups or to individuals. For example, you can text all the parents whose children are late on a specific day with just the click of a button, which makes life easier for office staff and means parents are notified in a timely way.

And it works the other way, too. Parents can also ask questions on the Arbor App (if your school has enabled this setting) or the Arbor Parent Portal, without needing to have received a message from the school first.This means two-way communication can be effectively supported, and parents and guardians can feel listened to. 

2. Give parents the information they want

Helping parents to feel involved in their child’s education can feel tricky, as you don’t want to overload guardians with information, or not be able to keep track of who has been sent what. The Parent Portal keeps everything in one place, so parents can check in on their child’s attendance, behaviour and academic progress, as well as accessing past and current report cards. In Arbor MIS, you can also see a full parent communication log, so that you know who has been sent what, and when. 

Giving parents this visibility over their child means they can become more involved where needed, and are kept in the loop when things aren’t going as well as they should be. 

3. Make life easier for parents

As well as giving parents an overview of their child’s data, the Parent Portal is also the place where schools can ask parents to take action. This could be asking for permissions, payments or registering their child for clubs and trips. Another popular use of the app is as a guardian consultation/parents evening booking system, which makes it easy and less stressful for both the parents and the school staff. 

By having everything in one place, both parents and schools can feel more confident that everyone has access to the data they need. 

Want to learn more? 

At the heart of any effective communications strategy is making sure that both parties feel listened to and have visibility over the right information. And where time is short in schools, it’s important that your technology is helping to make your strategy as time-saving and efficient as possible. At Arbor, we believe switching MIS is an opportunity to transform the way you work for the better, in that case helping to engage parents and transform the lives of students. 

If you’re not already using Arbor, and want to see how it could transform how you engage with parents at your school, get in touch with our friendly team today. Call us on 0208 050 1028 or send us an email at hello@arbor-education.com to get started.

Already an Arbor customer and want to learn more about how to make the most out of your Arbor App? Read our Help Centre for more tips and tricks.

Amy Underdown - 2 February, 2022

Category : Blog

An introduction to Arbor’s Fast-Track Programme

With SIMS only giving schools the option to renew their contracts for 3 years, many schools have told us they’re trying to work out whether they can switch MIS quickly before their SIMS license ends. To help, we’ve created a dedicated “fast track” programme so you can make a decision about your MIS quickly and

With SIMS only giving schools the option to renew their contracts for 3 years, many schools have told us they’re trying to work out whether they can switch MIS quickly before their SIMS license ends.

To help, we’ve created a dedicated “fast track” programme so you can make a decision about your MIS quickly and confidently. You can then choose to move by 1st April or 1st September 2022.

We’ve outlined the steps you’ll need to take as part of the programme, which differ based on whether your school is primary, secondary or special, or if you’re part of a trust. If you have any questions about the programme, or about moving to Arbor, feel free to give us a call on 0208 050 1028 or email us at hello@arbor-education.com.

 

If you’re a primary school

You could be up and running on Arbor by 1st April 2022: If you want to switch MIS before your current SIMS contract ends, our Primary School Fast Track Programme makes it quick and easy to see demos, ask questions, and involve your team

Or buy yourself time and move over Summer: Don’t think you can make a decision before Half Term? You can use the SIMS break clause to buy yourself extra time, take a look at other MIS systems, and choose the best fit for your school in the Summer Term. The first step is to join our primary school product demo – click here to book your space 

 

If you’re a secondary school 

You now have more time to review your MIS options: If you’re not keen on using SIMS for another 3 years, this break clause gives you the chance to explore other MIS systems over Summer Term. You can request the break clause even if you’ve already signed up for the new 3 year contract

We can get you up and running on Arbor by 1st September 2022: With SIMS offering this extra time, we’re re-opening our dedicated Fast Track Programme to help secondary schools see Arbor quickly and easily before making the switch in Summer. The first step is to join our secondary school product demo click here to book your space

 

If you’re a special or AP school

You could be up and running on Arbor by 1st April 2022: If you want to switch MIS before your current SIMS contract ends, our Special School Fast Track Programme makes it quick and easy to see demos, ask questions, and involve your team

Or buy yourself time and move over Summer: Don’t think you can make a decision before Half Term? You can use the SIMS break clause to buy yourself extra time, take a look at other MIS systems, and choose the best fit for your school in the Summer Term. The first step is to join our secondary school product demo – click here to book your space

 

If you’re a MAT

Your primary schools could be up and running on Arbor by 1st April 2022: If you want to switch MIS before your schools’ current SIMS contracts end, our Fast Track Programme makes it quick and easy to see demos, ask questions, and involve your team

Or buy yourself time and move all your schools over Summer: Don’t think you can make a decision before Half Term? Buy yourself extra time with the break clauses, take a look at other MIS systems, and choose the best fit for your trust in the Summer Term. The first step is to join an Arbor product demo for MATs – click here to book your spot at an upcoming session

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Anna Christie - 27 January, 2022

Category : Blog

School timetabling made easy: Arbor’s integrations with Edval and TimeTabler

One of the questions we get asked most by secondary schools is how can they manage their timetabling in Arbor. So we’re excited to announce that we integrate with two of the best independent timetabling products in the world, TimeTabler and Edval! Build your robust timetables using your timetable software of choice. Then if you

One of the questions we get asked most by secondary schools is how can they manage their timetabling in Arbor. So we’re excited to announce that we integrate with two of the best independent timetabling products in the world, TimeTabler and Edval!

Build your robust timetables using your timetable software of choice. Then if you need to make any small changes throughout the year, you can tweak your timetable directly in Arbor MIS.

Arbor’s integrations with TimeTabler and Edval create a connection between your student and staff data in Arbor and your timetabling data. Build reports, collect data and gain new and valuable insights, such as how timetabling methods impact your students and staff.

For example, you might notice that you’ve a number of students in one class who are below average with their grades compared to other classes. In Arbor you can easily see if your timetable could be impacting grades. Are students who have the same class earlier in the day getting better results, could small timetable changes make a difference? Our integration makes it quick and easy to make any necessary changes to your timetable midway through the year.

Why is this great news?

  • Use the power of the best independent timetabling software available to build a timetable that works for your school.
  • View and easily make changes to your timetable throughout the year within Arbor MIS.
  • Get the flexibility you need. For bigger changes, you can still build a new timetable in your preferred timetabling software and push it into Arbor part way through the year.
  • Run reports in your MIS and gain insights based on your timetable data.

Want to hear more about how you can integrate Arbor with timetable software? Contact us today.

  • Arbor is a reseller for TimeTabler and can introduce you to both their and Edval’s sales teams directly
  • If you don’t yet use Arbor, we’d love to speak to you: email hello@arbor-education.com and one of our team will be in contact.
  • Already using our MIS and want to get started? You can do so by reading our Help Centre articles or speaking to your Account Manager.
  • To see our timetabling roadmap, join us at ArborFest.