Well, last time I spoke to the guys at EIS Kent, SIMS Learning gateway was being dropped in favour of another system.
My school was one of the early adopters right from version 1, but the support, reliability, and interface really are still not up to scratch.
We dropped it over the summer in favour of another package that we were able to install and configure within 2 hours. It also looks more presentable, and manages user accounts much more efficiently. Only cost £800 as well. Have a look around, you will be surprised with what you find out there
£500 does sound cheap, but if schools don't need to spend this money at all then it's actually £500 wasted - for a small school that's a lot of money which could otherwise be spent on the pupils.
I do understand that the council have spent a lot of time and money on setting up this system based on a requirement to give parents access to specific school information, but this requirement is no longer a mandate (I have spoken to the DFE). Surely East Sussex County Council have a duty to inform schools of this fact so that they can make an informed decision about whether or not to take on a project which will require a complete shift in processes for the school and in small schools this may mean having to get someone in to maintain it, costing extra money.
I appreciate that County don't want to lose out on their investment, but surely the schools shouldn't be taking on a system just to ensure the 'success' of a project? After all its not the schools fault that the government changed the goal posts.
Yes of course a school can choose what they wish to run, I understand the goal posts have changed but the impact of parental engagement is still applicable. If the Head from the school chooses to spend schools money on another solution then that is the choice of the head, East Sussex can then allocate the licence to another school who wish to run the system. We would need to meet with the head so they understand the total cost of ownership of running another system, also so the head understands the pros & cons of moving (or not as the case may be) to another system of their choice. The project was set up to give all schools in East Sussex the ability to offer online reporting, parental engagement and visibility to stakeholders (inc Governors) how students are performing within the school, and staff the freedom of working on marksheets/attendance/reports as they wish from where they wish. I feel parents should also have a voice in how your schools spend money, so it would also be good to hear what they say about the cost of SIMS Gateway compared to outcomes.
If you feel you can gain this and more by spending £500 on something else, submit it to your SLT for them to decide if it is more beneficial to the school/pupils/parents/staff etc. As I have mentioned, East Sussex CC do not want schools thinking we are forcing products on the schools, the school decide on application, and the most cost effective way of delivering applications and ultimately results for your school
This thread has taken a bit of a weird turn - my initial question was simply do the schools have to use Gateway by law as this was what the person on the training course had said and it didn't ring true. Gateway may well be the best system for schools to use (if there is a legal requirement for them to have such a system or if they want to have such a system) but recent conversations with Ofsted and the DFE seem to suggest that no such system is required and that the learning platform environment fulfills all legal obligations by the schools - and even this isn't a 'legal' requirement as such, but is to improve ratings by Ofsted (and to fulfil parental engagement criteria).
My school is perfectly happy with the way in which they report to parents at the moment...have I been misinformed? Is there a legal requirement to provide further information in a vehicle other than the learning platform or current systems? And if so, what is it that they are required to provide by law?
There is no legal requirement to report on-line although ASCL strongly support the concept; Becta could only ever recommend that schools follow this route. There is however a huge uptake of reporting to parents in real time taking place across the country. Equally having a VLE is only a recommendation. Ofsted will however be looking for evidence that there is regular exchange of information and a dialogue with parents that is more regular than once a year.
3. The effectiveness of the school’s engagement with parents
A school's LP, SLG and text messaging service would all fall into the category, along with more traditional methods.