Layer de la Haye Primary

The background

Layer de la Haye Primary is a charming village school on the outskirts of Colchester in Essex. With 210 pupils, staff are proud to be part of a Church of England school that is committed to ensuring a caring environment for everyone who is part of their school community. This was exemplified during the recent COVID lockdowns, as the school remained open to support the more vulnerable children and those of key workers – with 20 attending in the first lockdown and 60 the second – whilst maintaining teaching and learning for all of their pupils throughout.

The school has always had a strong appreciation for the role that technology can play within their setting – to support an enriched learning environment whilst ensuring the smooth running of the school. As a result, they have been customers of the leading education technology provider, RM, for over 20 years – using their MIS system, RM Integris, for all of that time, and the school financial management system, RM Finance, for more than 11 years.

The role of a reliable MIS in a modern school environment

A good school management information system (MIS) brings together all of a school’s assessment, attendance, behaviour, pupil and staff data into one place. It should provide a powerful suite of intuitive tools that enable those within the school to easily manage their data and analyse it to identify trends to inform school strategies for change and improvement.

“For us, the most important attributes of a good MIS are providing accurate records and ease of use. RM Integris does that for us”.

Claire Law, School Business Manager

Layer de la Haye Primary

Making the decision to change your MIS is a big one, although many schools are facing that very dilemma, for a number of different reasons – ranging from a desire to save money, to updating their technology, to simply replacing a system that no longer does what a school needs.

“We switched to RM so long ago that it is hard to ascertain why we originally did that. However, we did review the finance package about 5 years ago and concluded that RM Finance was so much cheaper than the other options in the market – it really is excellent value for money”.

Claire Law, School Business Manager

The transition and data migration process can put schools off changing MIS and lead them to remaining with a provider that they know is not offering value for money nor the latest functionality that some MIS’s offer.

“When we did our market review 5 years ago, we quickly realised the pain of moving would be unimaginable. Fortunately, we didn’t need to switch – the value for money from RM Finance kept us, along with the fact that it works with all the other platforms we use (ParentPay, DB Primary, CPOMS, Wonde etc.)”.

Claire Law, School Business Manager

Layer de la Haye Primary

The benefits a cloud-based MIS can bring to a school

As technology has evolved, so has how it is used in an Education setting. This is especially true with cloud-based systems – both for MIS systems as well as for those that directly support teaching and learning. Considering the pros and cons of an onsite server-hosted MIS versus a cloud-hosted MIS can help to ensure schools find the best solution to suit their individual requirements.

Whether the MIS is cloud-based or server based can sometimes determine how flexible the system is. For example, being able to access your MIS at any time, on any device, inside and outside of school has been a godsend during the pandemic, as Layer de le Haye Primary found:

“During the pandemic and working from home, the cloud platform meant we could access all records and continue working on both RM Integris and RM Finance”.

Claire Law, School Business Manager

Layer de la Haye Primary

RM Integris is a cloud-based MIS. It allows schools to be able to work from home if required. By operating on any device it allows staff to work remotely, using personal devices and use phones or tablets during school trips or emergency evacuations – even allowing you to complete work after hours if you need to. As a result, it offers complete flexibility if your school is forced to shut for any reason. Finally, for those that are part of a trust and/or are split over multiple sites, staff can also remotely access another school’s system if it is cloud-based, when and where they need to.

Working together

One positive from the pandemic and lockdown periods has been the way people have pulled together. Nowhere was this truer than in the Education Sector.

“We were not at all prepared for remote learning when schools were asked to close in March 2020, but by the time of the second lockdown at the start of 2021, our teachers had become much more adaptable and they continue to work with those children forced to self-isolate as the virus continues to cause disruption”.

Claire Law, School Business Manager

Sharing best practice when it comes to selecting an MIS

  1. Identify your reasons for selecting the right MIS for you - whilst for Layer de la Haye the decision was taken some time ago, it is important to keep those decisions under regular review – whether it be cost, consistency, or ensuring that you can do all that you want with the system you have selected.
  2. Research the best MIS systems and providers – not all MISs are the same, so do use supplier websites and talk to other schools about what is out there. Some systems will cater for different demographics (usually different types of schools), so bear in mind your specific needs, such as reporting, communication and access. Also think about the training offered, and the credibility of the suppliers – read case studies, peer reviews and references.
  3. Understand the process of change - this will be an upheaval for your school, so ensure you are changing for the right reasons, and make sure the system you have selected is intuitive to use and comes with the training and support your school needs.
  4. Gain buy-in to your decision - this includes understanding the internal processes and procedures you need to follow for procurement in your school or trust, as well as ensuring you have the support of the key decision makers – not just the SLT, but those who will be using the system too.
  5. Examine your current contract with your supplier - how easy is it to get out of your current contract – one particular MIS provider has been in the news recently for seeking to extend its customers to three-year contracts and hence make it harder for them to switch away.
  6. Decide whether to use a cloud-based MIS or one that is server-based - This is increasingly becoming a big issue, with Layer de la Haye Primary deciding to select a cloud-based system, which – possibly with hindsight post-pandemic – they are pleased they did. There are pros and cons of both, but if your technology network is becoming increasingly cloud-based it makes sense that your MIS follows.
  7. Ensure that any third-party solutions that you use will work with your MIS - for Layer de la Haye Primary this was a key decision. They rely on a multitude of other systems, and having a solution that was fully integrated was important, so make sure you check this out before coming to your final decision.

The future

MIS solutions have come a long way and now most of them provide the basic features and functionality any school or educational setting may need. Selecting the right one for you is an important decision, and not one to be taken lightly.

“For us, the key factors were being cloud-based, value for money, linking to other software, and above all – ease of use. We found this with RM Integris and are delighted with that decision. We intend to keep revisiting that decision, so RM need to keep on their toes, but so far so good!”

Claire Law, School Business Manager

Layer de la Haye Primary

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