Schools know their MIS isn’t meeting their needs, they just need an alternative

Schools need a new MIS solution. The current systems are outdated, fragmented, and overloaded. Juniper’s CEO, Chris Scarth, explores the issues with existing MIS, the need for change, and how Juniper’s future-ready approach offers a better way forward. 


The pressure on schools to provide evidence and justify their decisions has caused the use of data in education to explode, overwhelming educators. While academic data is the best it’s ever been, sadly, the same can’t be said about Management Information Systems (MIS) at the heart of it all.

Current MIS solutions claim to do everything, but unfortunately, they still don’t fulfil the depth and breadth of a school’s needs. They promise consolidation, but only serve to plug gaps rather than provide comprehensive and expert educational solutions.

Juniper thinks schools urgently need a better system, and its CEO, Chris Scarth, aims to untangle the sector's MIS mess and suggest a better way to do things.

What is a MIS in schools?

A school MIS, or management information system, is a piece of software which brings together data into one place. An MIS helps schools and MATs make decisions, from daily tasks such as marking attendance to top-level strategy. Every school in the UK has to have an MIS.

The MIS also manages data around all aspects of school life and is used by many different people. Teachers register or log behaviour incidents, the headteacher sees cross-school statistics, and the office staff and/or data team analyse information and contact parents.

How important is a school MIS?

We like to refer to a school MIS as the heart and the head of education technology. The school ‘body’ can’t operate without either one. The heart of an MIS, i.e. a school’s operations, represents the driving force of the solution, having to keep pace and evolve as the school grows. The head is the intelligence side of the system, i.e. specialised teaching and management tools, such as pupil trackers, offering data, collaboration, and integration.

So, using that metaphor and answering the question of how important a school MIS is, ultimately, a school can’t operate without an MIS.

What’s wrong with the current MIS landscape

1. MIS are ‘jack of all trades and master of none’

Many MIS attempt to be all-in-one solutions but often fall short as 'jack of all trades, master of none.' For a whole range of critical functions, including safeguarding, pupil tracking, analytics, behaviour, parent comms and payments, to name just a few, schools continue to prefer specialist solutions. Similarly, when tracking pupil performance, integrated features in current MIS platforms might not have all the necessary functions for effective data analysis. MIS provider’s promise of consolidation is far more of a compromise than many schools expect or want.

2. A consolidated system leaves schools vulnerable to cyber attacks

Consolidating all school operations into one MIS could expose schools to cyber threats. Schools are primary targets for cyber-attacks due to the sensitive nature of student data. With attacks on education institutions on the rise, it's important to consider the risks of relying on a single system and outdated servers. If the system, i.e. one MIS, gets hacked or crashes, everything linked to it is compromised.

Choosing separate systems not only offers better performance but also enhances security by keeping different aspects of school operations independent, providing a stronger defence against cyber threats.

3. Specialist support is not always available

Current MIS solutions often lack specialised support, leaving schools without expert guidance for handling specific issues. Schools have less support from Local Authorities, less budget in real terms and more complex environments than ever before. This can hinder their ability to achieve optimal outcomes and address unique challenges.

Juniper believes we have reached a clear conclusion that it is time for schools to embrace a new era of data management that genuinely meets their needs and moves away from the current MIS model they have grown accustomed to but have now fallen out of love with.

The evolution of MIS

The future of MIS is not a traditional one. Schools need choice and flexibility, which most current MIS providers cannot offer. As MIS evolves and adapts to real education needs, we have learned what schools do not need from an MIS: 'death by data,' over-promised consolidation, complex change management, or paying twice for services. Rather than an all-in-one system, schools need an agile and lighter MIS that handles all of the core functions effectively, adapts quickly to changing needs and statutory requirements and utilises new technology where it adds the most value.

The market is crying out for change

Juniper, comprised of 13 market-leading acquisitions, has consulted with top education minds and has recognised the need for a paradigm shift in school data management. Our solution goes beyond mediocre MIS, offering a central operating system for schools and MATs. It provides a foundational layer for control, permissions, and workflows, allowing schools to operate from a single point of truth.

While other MIS on the market promise a consolidated dream, our sources tell us that, in reality, it’s more of a nightmare. However, schools don’t need sleepless nights over this. Juniper is offering a better way to do things and is set to change the MIS landscape.

So, what does that change actually look like?

To help schools continue using the systems they know and love, tailored to their unique needs, Juniper has developed an innovative system based on customer insights and real-life challenges. Here’s what we are offering:

  • Foundational layers for control, permissions, and workflows: a strong base from which your software and services can operate from one single point of truth. Central controls with local autonomy where required.
  • Join up your existing technology solutions: Our system seamlessly integrates with your preferred solutions, ensuring compatibility and harmony.
  • Key person insight reports: Curated data views provide actionable insights, empowering your team to make informed decisions.
  • Fulfil statutory obligations: From DfE returns to GDPR compliance, Juniper MIS supports schools in meeting their legal requirements without the need for complicated guides and training.
  • No duplicate systems, no double payments: Consolidate where necessary, but never pay twice for duplicate systems. Juniper allows you to pick specialised tools tailored to your school's needs.

Shedding the MIS load

The days of relying on MIS solutions that don’t make the grade are over. Schools deserve more, and there are expert education partners, such as Juniper Education, who can deliver this.

Is it time for schools to embrace an MIS that genuinely supports the needs of modern education? Juniper votes yes!

Would you like to truly use your data, not just record it?

We know that every school needs an MIS. Do you want to join the next generation of MIS, or are you happy being left behind?

Juniper can be the digital transformation partner your schools or MAT have been searching for.

If you're interested in learning more about the Juniper MIS which is set to improve the way education handles data, stay tuned, as we’ll be sharing more information about this new solution very soon.