Classroom and teaching technology remains the focus of educational innovation for many, indeed the delivery of education and the tools to support it have been through quite a dramatic change when you look back over the past few years. Although it may not have brought about the educational ‘revolution’many have called for, schools now have more tools than ever before at their disposal.
However, one critical area that has received plenty of criticism but has not been subject to anywhere near the same rate of change or disruption as the classroom environment, is the school management information system (MIS). There are reasons for this of course; the complex requirements imposed by central government, the historically uncompetitive market conditions brought about by central purchasing and a monopolistic supplier, not to mention the change management normally required to switch systems.
So while independent schools may have enjoyed slightly more freedom in this area, maintained schools have traditionally been very limited when it comes to their choice of MIS and indeed many believe this still to be the case. However, it may come as a surprise to learn that there are actually now over 13 different systems in use in schools today. A number which continues to grow at a pace never before seen. While Capita SIMS still holds a majority stake in market share, there is now an up-swell of new entrants challenging that dominance. Of course many have tried and failed before. So why are we starting to see change now?
One such new entrant is VS (www.vsware.co.uk). A start-up originating in Dublin, Ireland, and now in its fourth year, they have already usurped the country’s once nationwide MIS. Now they are turning their sights to the UK. Its approach to usability and modern software design is in refreshing contrast to that of the majority of systems currently available.
Adrian Bantin, UK Manager at VS, explains why they’re now investing in UK schools.
“We’re passionate about making the often onerous task of running and operating a school management system as easy and efficient as possible. We’re taking a very different approach by making the system engaging and dare we say even fun to use!
VS, unlike the incumbent equivalents in the UK, is all about simplicity and affordability and we’re extremely excited to bring this to schools here. You can use it on your mobile or tablet, as well as via dedicated mobile apps. You can provide access to students as well as parents and it already integrates with other systems like learning platforms. There are no additional fees, nor do we offer feature-restricted licenses. No other suppliers can lay claim to that.
We’re now looking for UK schools to work with us and help shape the product for their needs. It’s a great opportunity, which I hope plenty of schools will recognise and embrace. We truly believe we can make a difference, which has been long overdue.”
VS may be a very recent recent addition but it presents schools with a real alternative to an otherwise uninspiring line-up of management information systems. One such school quick to realise this potential was XP. School Doncaster, opening this September.
Gwyn ap Harri, Trustee and Chair of Governors at XP. said, “We reviewed and met all the MIS providers at BETT. They were all overly complex and poor value. It left us considering developing our own until I had the opportunity to see VS. Its simple, fast and elegant interface was in a different league to the other options. Their straightforward, no nonsense approach was also at odds with the other providers, while their innovative and disruptive ethos was a great fit for our school. VS is now a vital partner in the run up to the opening of XP.” You can find out more and register your interest at www.vsware.co.uk