SIMS contract amended after school backlash

School information management systems supplier ESS came under fire last year after switching from one-year to three-year contracts
13th January 2022, 6:28pm
Helen Chapman

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SIMS contract amended after school backlash

https://www.tes.com/magazine/news/general/sims-contract-amended-after-school-backlash
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A major school information management systems (SIMS) supplier has introduced a six-month break clause to its under-fire three-year contract extension.

Education Software Solutions (ESS) SIMS said it made the change to the contract after talks with schools. 

Last month nearly 400 schools joined action over the "legally questionable" contracts proposed by the school information management firm.

ESS wrote to schools in November stating it would extend its contracts from one year to three years, giving schools until the end of February 2022 to sign up or find an alternative.

The Department for Education advised schools in November to "pause before signing" while they investigated the new terms after they were alerted by school business leaders, before giving the green light in December.

Law firm Stone King said the contract renewal notice puts "great pressure" on schools, which it says is "legally questionable".

ESS SIMS previously said that the change in terms from a one-year contract to a three-year contract was introduced to keep up with industry demands.

The company announced this week schools could sign up for the new contracts through their local authorities. It says it is updating its system to include new cloud-based features.

Mark Brant, ParentPay chief executive, said: "With this week's opening of the ESS Gateway, LA-maintained schools can also now sign up for a new three-year direct agreement, and to encourage them to do so, for a limited period, we are offering to include a six-month break clause in these new agreements. 

"In the interests of equity, this option will also be made available to all customers entering into new three-year annual entitlement agreements, including those who have already done so."

ESS is inviting schools to confirm acceptance of a new agreement via the ESS online gateway by 31 March 2022, and to notify them by 20 February 2022 if they wish to have the option of a six-month break clause.

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