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MIS Systems Thread, Launcher and START7..... Blast from the past! in Technical; ...
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    Launcher and START7..... Blast from the past!

    Right…. not sure where to start with this one! A school I’m currently working with are still using SIMS Launcher and STAR7 to access archived historical Student and Staff Data. It transpires that the school decided that the Year 2000 would be their cut off point for migration to SIMS.Net and there is now data that wasn’t migrated that they currently have access to and what to continue to access!

    They are running Windows 7 and have access to Launcher and STAR running on one machine, which is obviously accessing the old SIMS database.

    My question is what can be done to ensure they can still access this information without requiring Launcher or STAR7 which is obviously going to break at some point. I have already informed them that launcher and STAR7 is no longer supported by the Local Authority or Capita.

    RepGen has been suggested by the local authority SIMS support team as an option to export the data to a CSV file, but I was wondering if any SIMS or Database guru on here had or knew of a better solution or other options?

    Bit of a long shot but I have to report back to the SLT and all options will be discussed when I break the news to the SLT that, STAR is dead and has been for years!

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    matt40k's Avatar
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    Sorry, I think someone is pulling your leg. No-one needs access to the old launcher. Why are they looking up records from over 12 years ago? I would go back to them and ask for a detail list of what they want they want to pull out of it with a valid business reason the check if it's actual legal to still possess that information! I've heard people creating WinXP virtual machines to get it setup and wasting DAYS getting it working when all they want was exams results - why not just look at raw result files in notepad? Or even that pretty word document the exams officer created to send to the papers...

    FYI - Just checked, it's only 6yrs after they leave that you are recommended to keep exams results then it's secure disposal (page43)
    http://www.irms.org.uk/images/resour...4_may_2012.pdf

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    Quote Originally Posted by matt40k View Post
    Sorry, I think someone is pulling your leg. No-one needs access to the old launcher. Why are they looking up records from over 12 years ago? I would go back to them and ask for a detail list of what they want they want to pull out of it with a valid business reason the check if it's actual legal to still possess that information! I've heard people creating WinXP virtual machines to get it setup and wasting DAYS getting it working when all they want was exams results - why not just look at raw result files in notepad? Or even that pretty word document the exams officer created to send to the papers...

    FYI - Just checked, it's only 6yrs after they leave that you are recommended to keep exams results then it's secure disposal (page43)
    http://www.irms.org.uk/images/resour...4_may_2012.pdf
    Matt,
    They are definitely not pulling my leg, I have seen the Data and they still want access to it. The Valid business reason is “We still want access to it” its a case of the customer is always right even if the price they want to for it pay isn’t.

    I’m thinking along the lines of using RepGen to suck the data out and throw it into something else that could be accessed using a web based front end. Just wondered if anybody had already achieved something similar with to old SIMS database.

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    matt40k's Avatar
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    Well good luck in potentely breaking the data protection act!! Actually I'm pretty sure you will be! "We still want access to it" isn't a valid reason and 12 years is beyond any valid reason anyway. I hope you're getting paid a lot!

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    How about telling them that 21,999 other SIMS users don't have access to it. Then if they still insist make sure that you put a very long disclaimer in writing in front of them to be signed by the Head and Chair of Governors, absolving you from any liability for prosecution under the Data Security legislation...... That should send 'em scurrying for cover!

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    Quote Originally Posted by matt40k View Post
    .... 12 years is beyond any valid reason anyway...
    We had a request last January from a pupil who left in the mid 90's for data on exactly what exams he studied whilst in years 11, 12 and 13. It was for some sort of background check for a new job and they wanted documentary proof from the school he went to. We were able to set a LANID on a work station, fire up Launcher and print the summary for him. Seems like a valid reason even if we don't have an obligation to keep it.
    On a more technical point I don't see how it can get broken. It may not work but that is not the same thing.
    (SIMS is very messy when it comes to deleting old files, we still have the STAR folders and lots of .DBF files)

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    Quote Originally Posted by number34 View Post
    We had a request last January from a pupil who left in the mid 90's for data on exactly what exams he studied whilst in years 11, 12 and 13. It was for some sort of background check for a new job and they wanted documentary proof from the school he went to.
    These are the sort of requests the School needs access to this information for. A large number of students who left this school go on to University at some point in the future.

    Just discovered that Microsoft Access can open the DBF files as tables without any conversion. This opens up all sorts of possibilities, I just don’t want to go re-inventing the wheel.

    The Exam information is probably going to be the biggest challenge but not impossible.

    21999 Schools you say….. well that is interesting as I’m available at a reasonable daily rate and will soon have developed an Access database solution with a web based GUI to offer them for their legacy SIMS data. (On acceptance of my Data Protection Act disclaimer… obviously)

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    Must admit, quietly, that there have been moments when I have wished that I could get into Launcher and old Personnel to look at ancient long closed contracts!

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    I don't get why people insist on using the same system they've always used it could be exported to say a spreadsheet which is much more maintainable, or even a paper copy!!

    NVQs etc won't accept GCSE over 3 years. It make sense, I doubt I'll be able to remember half the things I'd learnt at the time, now. I accept university don't care, but they will demand to see the certificates!! The school saying they got a few GCSE results can easily be faked. You have to draw the line somewhere and that silly old data protection act seems like a good idea!!

    Draw the line people, to quote a old teacher "grow a pair, cover yourself in teflon and learn to say no", failing that (if your all out of teflon coated underwear) drop your policy and compliance person at your LA a line and get them to do the dirty work for you. Otherwise you'll hear me laughing when that pesky data protection act comes and bites you - remember managers don't becomes manager without having learnt how to protect themselves!! You have been warned!!

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    Quote Originally Posted by matt40k View Post
    Draw the line people, to quote a old teacher "grow a pair, cover yourself in teflon and learn to say no", failing that (if your all out of teflon coated underwear) drop your policy and compliance person at your LA a line and get them to do the dirty work for you. Otherwise you'll hear me laughing when that pesky data protection act comes and bites you - remember managers don't becomes manager without having learnt how to protect themselves!! You have been warned!!
    Warning noted.
    The problem is I have a very varied IT background and have worked in many places where "grow a pair, cover yourself in teflon and learn to say no" would have you escorted off the premises with your P45 in your hand. I also find it difficult saying no especially where I see what I would describe as “bad practise” I can think of very few situations where a company would say to your organisation, “we can’t import all of your data into the new system that we are charging your very good money for, so can you please select the data you want?” Then following the migration, leave the old data in a system that will eventually break and will no longer be supported.

    I’m sorry.... but that company wouldn’t last too long in the corporate environment.

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    I think you'll find companies that breach the law don't last very long and end up in court. A school will not fire staff that refuse to break the law nor will they stop trading with a company that refuses to break the law. I would image they are not aware they would be breaking the law, so I would suggest you point them at that document, tell them that they legally can't hold that data, then if they still do not escalate up - the LA WILL NOT stand for something that could end up in court and cost them thousands of pounds in compo because some silly person wants to be difficult and hold onto some old data!!

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    I will raise the points you have made Matt, as they are valid and I’m sure the School would be shocked to know they could be in breach of the Data Protection Act, should they insist on keeping Data beyond the recommended retention date(s).

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    Just to add, following further research, apparently records and data can be archived for historical importance and the school can keep them as long as they like.
    In this case the electronic data could be considered an archive as long as it was secure and only accessible in accordance with the Schools Records Management policy.
    So saying the School would be in breach of the Data Protection Act, isn’t strictly true.

    You could argue that such an archive solution should have been offered to all Schools for the Data they migrate to SIMS.Net

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    I am looking at the Records Mangement Toolkit guidelines and it gives plenty of information regarding retention and safe disposal but I can't find anythng stating that we have to remove the data after that time. Can someone point me in the right direction as it seems that some of the points being made are implying that we are in breach of the Data Protection Act by keeping it beyond a certain date.

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    Quote Originally Posted by djm968 View Post
    Just to add, following further research, apparently records and data can be archived for historical importance and the school can keep them as long as they like.
    In this case the electronic data could be considered an archive as long as it was secure and only accessible in accordance with the Schools Records Management policy.
    So saying the School would be in breach of the Data Protection Act, isn’t strictly true.
    The school can keep an appropriate set of data, but they can't (or shouldn't) keep it all, nor should they use an inability to differentiate data as an excuse to keep it all.

    If Jeff's just got out of prison and the only place who'll give him a reference is Grumblesby Secondary School, then having something along the lines of "grades X, Y & Z and was quite good at football" available is appropriate. Having "and he got Petunia pregnant in Yr10" still available isn't.
    Last edited by pete; 29th November 2012 at 02:36 PM. Reason: sentence structure



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