By putting data to use in the right way with the right solutions, schools have the power to transform outcomes for their students and to run more effectively and efficiently. This is where Management Information Systems (MIS) are so valuable in education today.
Data accessibility is something we explored in our recent webinar, Measuring the true impact of a child-first MIS, where we interviewed Tim Lings, Director of Digital Learning at Heronsgate Primary School in south-east London. He shared his experiences of using the Juniper Horizons MIS* daily, how technology is leading the way throughout the school, and how a cloud-based MIS makes it far easier to deliver better outcomes in a school set across two different sites.
This blog will cover the key takeaways from the webinar, including the impacts Heronsgate Primary have seen from using Horizons.
24/7 data access
Moving to Pupil Asset (now rebranded Horizons) back in 2015 from SIMS, meant that all of the staff at Heronsgate had access to all their detailed pupil data, anywhere and at any time.
“We really wanted to democratise the data so teachers could really understand where all their students were and how that was going,” he said. “They can just log in to Pupil Asset and they can pull out their phone numbers or see: “Is this child pupil premium or not?” Rather than it being locked away, where only the data keepers can see all that, it’s all there ready and accessible.”
What’s more, because the system is cloud-based and works on any device, any member of staff can access and input data, wherever they are.
“We wanted something that would work on any device,” he said. “So the fact it was cloud-based, that was a real appeal. So, if you’re on a school trip, you can pull up your phone and get that parent’s phone number. Or if you’re coming back late from Young Voices at the O2 and you need to contact some parents, you can do that. You don’t have to be on-site on a desktop computer to access it.”
Another consideration when moving from SIMS was that with Horizons being cloud-based, the school would be protected from major disruption caused by an on-premise server failure that would render important information inaccessible.
No lengthy training required
Tim was full of praise for how intuitive and easy to use Horizons is. It’s extremely supportive in helping staff get the information or insights they need easily. He explained that his colleagues were quickly able to get up to speed with the platform and improve their skills as they used its range of functionality.
“Previous systems we were using, there’s lots of power in there, you could do things,” he recalled. “But you could never figure out how to do it. You’d have to go on a day’s training and then you’d be like, “Aha, now I know how to use this particular module. Whereas with Pupil Asset, a lot of the time, you can figure it out. And actually, things you learn in one place you can apply in another place.”
“We really love the communication side: the fact that we can email all our parents and text them really easily from within the system is great. And then you’ve got that email history so you can see who’s opened the emails and what emails have already been sent.”
A new level of insights
As well as 24/7 easy access to insights, Tim was enthusiastic about the insights themselves and the level of detail he and his colleagues can now use and benefit from. Using those valuable insights, the school can make fully-informed decisions to ensure every pupil has the best chance of reaching their full potential.
“The teachers and the assistant head can drill down into the data and ask: which other children are not quite making it? What can we do to help support them more?” he said. “That is definitely very useful. The fact that we’re getting that high-level view of the school is really useful; things like attendance, you can pull up that information quickly and then you can make those decisions.”
Reliable, friendly support
Tim also felt that Juniper’s support is invaluable, helping all their staff achieve what they need to and get the most out of the system. He also emphasised the importance of that support during the most testing parts of the COVID-19 pandemic, where Juniper staff guided him through newly added functionality such as bubble registers.
“I think we perhaps take for granted the fact that you can literally pick up the phone and speak to people: and they can either teach you how to do something or suggest the best way through,” he explained. “Or if there’s a bug, they can report it and get it fixed, rather than having to get a support contract and to figure out how to use the software. Or if I’m trying something new or I want to explore an element of the software and know the best way, I’ll just pick up the phone and speak to the support.”
The webinar also featured a live demo of the Horizons MIS system. I demonstrated the key functionality, how Horizons shows all the information a school needs in one easy-to-use dashboard, single school and MAT reporting, and how it can be used by staff across the school for everyday tasks such as registers, absence notes, student behaviour notes, parental communication and much more.
Expanding your Horizons
Juniper Horizons has been built to prioritise classroom impact, feeding information back to the office, and not the other way around. Educators benefit from more child time to deliver even more effective education, every single day.
To find out why Horizons is the MIS of choice for over 450 Primary Schools, take a look at the latest product review from Education Technology, and get in touch with the Juniper Education team to book your own demo.
*Tim refers to his MIS by its historical name as Pupil Asset. Pupil Asset was rebranded as Horizons in 2021.