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MIS Systems Thread, How many staff support your MIS? in Technical; School of around 500 here. We have a Data Manager (term time only) whos the main data processing person, she ...
  1. #16

    john's Avatar
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    School of around 500 here.

    We have a Data Manager (term time only) whos the main data processing person, she does all assessments, reports, etc and assists with the timetable
    Asst. Head responsible for Timetabling so she does the rest of it
    Exams Officer - anything exams related
    Myself as IT Manager - I look after the back end of the MIS and customise it, add new fields and tabs in records, deal with staff training and structure of the MIS, upgrades and installs, and everything ePortal based. I have a technician who helps where he can as well but he focuses on other areas.

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    @PhilNeal - interesting comment... but what exactly do you mean? It's slightly ambiguous as it could be argued that the MIS "serves" every role in the school in some way or another.

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    @pantscat - absolutely right.

    I felt that the answers coming in were bluring the technical task of running the MIS (back-up, upgrade, add columns) with people's jobs such as exam officer using the MIS. I think its important that the data management role is shared widely to prevent things falling appart when the expert leaves. A secondary should ideally have more than one person involved in each major area i.e. exams, assessment, reporting.

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    @PhilNeal - that's exactly my thoughts. I do find here though that anything beyond the normal teacher interaction with SIMS.net is seen as "technical" and thus should be under the remit of the ICT Support Team. There's also the assumption that the MIS manager should know every aspect of SIMS.net inside and out even though we don't have a program for CPD and training here. (Yeah... I'm having a moan).

    My argument is that there is nothing in regard to using SIMS.net that is "technical" - it's merely a tool that should be used to get a job done.

    You wouldn't expect an Architects' firm to get their ICT Support team to do all of their design work in whatever CAD/CAM package they use, would you?
    ...Or graphic designers instructing their IT Techs to knock them up a new logo in InDesign...

    </rant>

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    I think its unrealistic to expect someone that has technical skills to have an understanding of say all finance and exam procedures.

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    I don't see any blurring, there are two sides to it, and the technical running of the software is a large part of it, including having an awareness of each available module. Not necessarily being an expert, but knowing how the overall system functions and seeing the links is a role in itself. It's not necessarily to include, running the server or backing it up, but often grows out of that role.

    The IT team shouldn't be doing the work of the architects, but there should be an architect for the MIS, which i would call the MIS/Data Manager. This person doesn't need to have a definite role such as exams officer, or assessment co-ordinator.

    It will always depend on the size of the organisation and to what level the system is being used. Once usage reaches a critical mass, you couldn't sustain the system if all minor issues had to be logged with a support desk and it just isn't practical to get each end user to go on a course or read the manual for every module they deal with.

    I agree, that the people that are using an element of a the system, should learn to know it better and take ownership of that, but it's difficult. I've had that difficulty here, convincing the people responsible for assessments to make their own amendments to marksheets. They are both Deputy Heads, and merely don't have the time, they just want to use the system, not tweak it. This was their argument. This is where you need the data manager to step in or where i feel there is a need for a data assistant role.

    It actually doubles the work, but that's how some places want to operate. I've had a few temps doing some tasks in the past, but you spend so long training them, and then getting the 'owner' of the job to check the work, they could have just done it in the first place!

    It's partly to do with the way data is now being used, in a way it wasn't 5 years ago. I don't remember there being many Data Managers, it was probably just the bursar, even in a secondary school.

    It's a really interesting topic, i see that the MIS along with helping schools manage data has driven an organic growth in the staff requirements. Throw in the needs for parental engagement and VLEs and suddenly you see the most advanced schools with 5,6,7 techs just to manage the system. We're in the age of the MIS boom.

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    Quote Originally Posted by PhilNeal View Post
    I think its unrealistic to expect someone that has technical skills to have an understanding of say all finance and exam procedures.
    I would go further than Phil!

    I believe that the ICT Services Team (as it is know as here) should have nothing to do with any of the SIMS Software - apart from supporting it's use technically on the Server and on SLG etc. They have enough to do without getting involved in the SIMS functionality. And I am NOT decrying the value of this team. Ours are excellent and I could not manage SIMS without their excellent input!

    Every single function in SIMS should be supported by at least two memebrs of staff. Here, the only single person is myself. This is why I am currently inservicing two members of staff re. Timetable/Academic Management. I am also the backup for a number of areas e.g. Exams, Cover, Data Management (AM7). We are currently inservicing another member of staff on AM7 and plans are afoot to train others how to use Exams and Cover.

    However, I still firmly believe that one person should have an overall knowledge of all SIMS functionality - call them what you wish, but they need to have the knowledge to step in and support others, as and when necessary. Unfortunately this is a difficult requirement to meet as it takes considerable time to develop all the skills required! The current problem is that the role of such a person is not being fully appreciated in schools/LAs when job re-gradings are being considered! Hence a school is less likely to retain a member of staff to fulfill this vital role!
    Last edited by Sivadam; 17th October 2011 at 02:09 PM.

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