Leader magazineASCL - Association of School and College Leaders

Debating the future of SIMS

ASCL and Capita held the first of two seminars in the autumn term to give members the opportunity to help influence the future direction of SIMS. The day started with delegates asked to identify one thing they liked about SIMS and one thing they disliked, then moved on to a discussion about SIMS as it is now.

From that point, delegates were asked to consider how their schools might be in 2020, and how experiences for teachers, learners and leaders would have changed. Phil Neal, managing director for Capita, presented his view of future trends in ICT and how they might affect SIMS.

One section of the workshops focused on two issues: engaging with stakeholders and the quality of the support delegates receive for SIMS.

The process of keeping schools informed about developments in SIMS was a recurring theme and is an area where the Capita and ASCL partnership may prove useful. Delegates felt that it was difficult for senior leaders to keep pace with SIMS. As one said: "We don't know what we don't know."

How SIMS is supported was mentioned frequently. It was clear that different local authorities take different approaches to the management of SIMS and ICT.

For example, one local authority insisted that schools do not link curriculum and administrative networks, which severely restricts the potential for teachers and school leaders to maximise the impact SIMS can have.

Additional functions that delegates would like in future included increased pupil-orientated functionality, such as homework diary facilities with pre-populated targets. It also was felt that there is much SIMS could do to push information to parents, through a range of media.

Delegates asked that Capita consult schools who are using SIMS on a daily basis when new products are being designed, and use focus groups such as these to provide feedback.

The final two seminars will take place on 9 March at Featherstone High in Ealing and on 11 March at Woodhey High in Bury near Manchester.

If you are interested in attending either workshop, please go to www.sims.co.uk/focusgroups Space is limited so please register early. ICT expertise is most certainly not a prerequisite - only an interest in the future of SIMS.

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