The management information systems used in schools have become fundamental to how they operate, helping them save time by reducing their administrative burdens.
Modern MISs are typically quicker and easier to use than ever before, but the specific ways in which a school uses its MIS for data management purposes can boost this time-saving potential even further.
MISs tend to be highly intuitive, with many offering the facility to export up to a hundred different ready-made reports in just a few clicks. This approach to data exporting will help ensure that any member of staff, regardless of their data expertise, will be able to access pupil-level data when needed, without needing to go via the school office. Allowing multiple users across the school, MAT or governing board to access the MIS will let everyone see what’s really going on, and can help drive efforts at collaborative improvement. Ensure that staff are trained in how to use the basic features of your MIS. Class lists, medicals, parental contact details and SEND data should all be readily available without hassle.
Use additional modules
Your MIS may already include a range of pre-configured modules, thus avoiding the need to purchase extra functionality from elsewhere. Modules relating to assessment, behaviour, interventions, safeguarding and communications will often be available from, if not already included in, your existing licencing. These separate functions of your system can intelligently talk to each other, saving you the effort of generating separate reports and comparing them side by side. Check which modules you’ve purchased and ensure you’re making the most of those you have.
Connect using multiple devices
Modern MIS platforms can be accessed from a variety of mobile devices, without the need for any software installation or configuration. Giving staff the option to connect using different devices will save them having to make repeat visits to offices and classrooms, while also letting them obtain information from outside school premises, thus facilitating more flexible working patterns.
Deploy electronic registers
When configured appropriately, a MIS can help schools complete their morning registration processes in just 30 seconds, while simultaneously recording accurate, real-time attendance data and feeding it straight back to the office. Office staff can then instantly contact parents – via SMS, for example – to ensure that absences are followed up.
Move to the cloud
Unlike legacy systems that require access to an on-site server, cloud-based MIS systems are remotely hosted and maintained. If your internet connection is up to the task, that makes them faster, more efficient, easier to use and more reliable. Moving your MIS to the cloud obviates the need for you to manage your own local backups, patches and updates, while saving on the upfront and continuing costs needed to keep a local server running.
Academy schools, MATs and free schools have the autonomy to choose the MIS provider that’s right for them. As such, the market for MIS providers is quite competitive, with each offering new technologies, richer features and more efficient ways of working. Reviewing your current system and investigating other options via a proper procurement process will ensure that you’re matched with a supplier that’s right for your setting, saving you valuable time in the long run. Talking to other schools in your area, or schools with a similar profile can be a good starting point for recommendations.
Richard Harley is CEO of the cloudbased MIS provider ScholarPack