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MIS Systems Thread, Online Reporting / Parental Engagement in Technical; BECTA is long gone (may it rest in peace), the Education Bill is looming on the horizon, and Ofsted framework ...
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    le4ne's Avatar
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    Question Online Reporting / Parental Engagement

    BECTA is long gone (may it rest in peace), the Education Bill is looming on the horizon, and Ofsted framework changes are afoot...

    We are at that time of year where we need to renew our SIMS Learning Gateway maintenance contract, and I am being asked from above if it is worth us keeping SLG running.
    Yes, I agree we can save money on printing reports by having them available online, but those savings do not match the amount Capita desire from us!

    I started to wonder how many Schools/Colleges are planning on maintaining SIMS Learning Gateway (and other equivalents) now that it is not "expected" for us to provide it. I know that Ofsted will most certainly be looking at the different communication methods used with parents/carers, but there's not really any mention of online reporting, just VLE's.

    We already use email, text, a VLE, and our website to communicate; we have SIMS.net installed in classrooms for registration purposes; we already meet frequently with the parents/carers of our students; and we do not set homework for students as homework is done during our slightly longer school day.

    Apart from attendance, report, achievement and behavioural information (which we already communicate to our parents/carers), I'm not sure what else I can add to try and justify the expense of keeping SLG for what parents/carers and our staff will actually get from it.

    Has anyone else been put in the same situation? Has anyone considered deferring using SIMS Learning Gateway for a period of time?
    Am I just being jaded? (Forgive my mood but I've had a headache all morning, and it's been a long week already!)

    Any comments are much appreciated

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    Your contribution would possibly have been of value at the Capita SIMS SLG Software Consultation Meeting in Huddersfield, yesterday. The Southern meeting is next week! As usual there were not that many that volunteered to attend!

    Which is a pity as many on here, and in other Forums such as SupportNet, complain about the direction that SIMS/SLG software moves in. Others believe, and often publicly wrongly state, that CRs are not looked at!
    Yesterday's meeting was originally planned to be 2 half days - one for Schools and one for LAs. As it turned out we could all attend the same meeting, which we voluntarily extended to a full day because of all the discussion that took place!

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    CAM
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    It's not the best time to hold such a meeting. Not only do support staff struggle to get time off during term time but anyone working in data will be gasping for free time right now. I doubt anyone can get the time off work to go, even for something work related!

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    Sivadam's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CAM View Post
    It's not the best time to hold such a meeting. Not only do support staff struggle to get time off during term time but anyone working in data will be gasping for free time right now. I doubt anyone can get the time off work to go, even for something work related!
    I agree! With 6 school days left I am struggling to get the timetable finished, the groups for next year sorted, the Non-Edi quals input into EO, etc. etc. Just shows how highly, I for one, rate these development meetings!

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    If you don't renew support / maintenance can you keep it running as is or does it have to stay in synch with sims upgrades? I tht the web parts licence was in perpetuity.

    We just had our ADP installed. Biggest benefit to us isn't parental reporting but teacher access both in and out of school. No need for the client on desktops would save us hassle. There are alternatives but with our intranet planned to use a lot of Sharepoint it makes sense for sims to fit in.

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    @le4ne:

    Have you though of going with some other developer such as these: TASC Software - excellence in education

    They charge £1 per student so much cheaper than the SLG and it fully integrates with Sims and they do other packages as well.

    They are a Capita partner so know all about the Sims.

    It will still cost but not as much.

  7. Thanks to bossman from:

    le4ne (14th July 2011)

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    vikpaw's Avatar
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    Found out today that the ADP although not updated often, does have to stay in synch with SIMS, so at some point it would stop working, but you could create accounts manually. Still not sure about the actual sharepoint side.
    @bossman 's idea is a good one, using TASC.

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    le4ne's Avatar
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    Thank you for the replies.

    TASC does look very interesting.
    So thanks for the heads up, I'm having a look at it now

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    A very good topic of conversation.

    We purchased SLG firstly for staff to gain access to reports offsite and complete them - with a view to offer the online reports and attendance data to parents as and when we felt ready.
    However with only 50 staff actually using SLG and no access for parents I too am asking the same questions to our SMT.

    With other means of remote access to the school systems currently being put in place it could make SLG dead in the water if we are not going to offer the facility to parents.

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    Got to agree TASC INSIGHT is excellent and cheap compared to others, we installed it November last year and rolled it out to parents by Jan.
    View all info from SIMS as well as their own software PARS, links into active directory if you add admission numbers to a employeeID field so it automatically gives students access to their information,
    links into our Kitchen System NRS, We customised it so it fits in with our school branding.
    It does so much and if you think it needs a new feature you log a call or feature request and most of the time it implemented within the week.

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    There is a SIMS moodle integration that provides online parental reporting here:

    ZiLink Demo: Login to the site

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    CAM
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    @Vikpaw: Even without SLG, if you don't pay maintenance you don't get updates and you won't be able to submit the government census due to the million and one bugs that crop up every time the government change the damned thing.

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    Quote Originally Posted by CAM View Post
    @Vikpaw: Even without SLG, if you don't pay maintenance you don't get updates and you won't be able to submit the government census due to the million and one bugs that crop up every time the government change the damned thing.
    I only meant the slg component of maintenance. So no effect on SIMS / census.

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    Quote Originally Posted by vikpaw View Post
    If you don't renew support / maintenance can you keep it running as is or does it have to stay in synch with sims upgrades? I tht the web parts licence was in perpetuity.

    We just had our ADP installed. Biggest benefit to us isn't parental reporting but teacher access both in and out of school. No need for the client on desktops would save us hassle. There are alternatives but with our intranet planned to use a lot of Sharepoint it makes sense for sims to fit in.
    Capita only supportSLG in the 2 versions of SIMS previous to the current SLG version so you will have issues at some point. The main problem is when the table structures change in SIMS and an older version of SLG is then calling for something that doesn't exist anymore and won't surface data (this happened in Aug last year)

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    vikpaw's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Greg View Post
    Capita only supportSLG in the 2 versions of SIMS previous to the current SLG version so you will have issues at some point. The main problem is when the table structures change in SIMS and an older version of SLG is then calling for something that doesn't exist anymore and won't surface data (this happened in Aug last year)
    If they used SIF or a standard API it should be independent of changes to the db!

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