A safe pair of hands
For most schools, the notion of moving to a new management information system (MIS) seems almost unthinkable. The anticipated upheaval often delays the decision for far too long or puts senior leaders off taking the leap altogether.
Churchfield Primary School had been looking at the options for changing its MIS, which was adding to staff workloads and was difficult to get meaningful information out of.
So, when the school joined Waterton Academy Trust in December 2019 and was asked to trial the Juniper Horizons solution, it took up the offer.
Churchfield Primary is located in Cudworth, an urban village just outside Barnsley, South Yorkshire. The school welcomes nearly 400 five to 11-year-olds through its doors.
It wanted an MIS that would better reflect the needs of teachers in the classroom and make it easier for them to manage tasks such as taking attendance and recording pupil progress. There was a real need to reduce the burden of administration on staff across the school too.
“With our old system, staff could go and make a cup of tea by the time it had produced the reports they wanted,” head of school, Jonathan Bean, explains. “The senior leadership team couldn’t get the information they needed out of it easily either. It was definitely time for a change.”
“We were excited when the opportunity arose to test drive Juniper Horizons at the school. But there was some nervousness about taking the big step of moving to a new system that staff had not used before.”
The school wanted Juniper Horizons to be up and running immediately after the half-term break and informed staff the week before that a new MIS was coming.
Juniper’s team of experts managed the entire process of implementing the system remotely to maintain social distancing protocols and had people at the end of the phone to ensure everything ran smoothly.
“To be honest, I expected the process of moving to a new MIS to be very difficult and lengthy with things going wrong at various points,” Jonathan continues. “That was not the case at all. The Juniper team were brilliant. They managed the whole implementation inside a week.”
The school made a quick video that showed teachers how to take the register on the first day and very little additional training was required. “Even staff members who are not very confident using technology found Juniper Horizons simple to use. This really helped to eliminate concerns that might have been lingering about the change.”
Making a difference in the classroom
Juniper Horizons is designed with teachers in mind and allows them to carry out familiar classroom tasks such as taking attendance, recording achievement and accessing key pupil information from a single dashboard.
“Teachers can now take the register in minutes and see a colour-coded view of attendance instantly,” says Jonathan.
Staff can choose from a selection of widgets to personalise their dashboards with the tools and information they use the most too.
“We love the widgets, they save so much time for teachers in the classroom. The pupil birthday reminder pops up automatically in the morning so teachers can congratulate children celebrating their birthdays as they come through the door and have a card ready. The smiles on the children’s faces really make our day.”
Another useful widget allows teachers to randomly select pupils’ names from the register so they can ensure that it’s not always the same few children answering questions in class. The school also uses this tool to randomly select one child from each year group every week to be awarded a prize for achieving positive behaviour points.
“We can set the pupil randomiser going in front of the children and they see it as a much fairer way to do things.”
With the new system in place, the senior leadership team have a dashboard they can use to view real-time information on pupils and groups quickly and easily.
They can see which pupils drop into different groups as their attendance and progress changes, for example, so that steps can be taken to keep children on track.
“We can see which children have fallen below 90% attendance based on live data being entered by teachers as they take the register. This was so difficult to do in a timely way with our previous system,” says Jonathan.
Hours of time have been saved completing DfE returns too, which staff can now process in minutes.
A responsive support team
The team from Juniper are always available to help support staff across the school, as Jonathan explains.
“Whenever we’ve called the support desk, we’ve got answers to our questions or information we need within 5 minutes.
“Our experience of moving to Juniper Horizons has been painless and teachers are really positive about the change. We’re now looking at expanding our use of the assessment and parental communication tools in the system to save even more time for staff.
“We’re so happy with our decision to move to Juniper Horizons and we have no intention of looking back.”
How Juniper has helped Churchfield Primary School
- Juniper Horizons up and running within a week
- A faster, more efficient MIS in place with no disruptions to the school day
- Limited training needed to get started
- A team of support experts on the end of the phone
- Workloads reduced from day one