ICT - Heads in the cloud

27th January 2012 at 00:00
The way information is managed must move with the times

The benefits of becoming an academy include greater freedom and control over your budget, curriculum and even the school year. But with these benefits comes accountability. So how do we manage the process and what do we need from our management information system (MIS) to achieve this?

For the past year, our school and 24 other pioneer schools have worked with the provider Serco Learning to develop a next- generation MIS, called Progresso.

Most staff are under 40, web-literate and familiar with Facebook and other popular technology, but I wanted a system that form tutors could use regardless of their IT literacy levels and that had a highly intuitive interface. I also wanted to be alerted when something has changed or needs to be looked at. So the tutor receives an alert saying: "These students underperformed in a geography assessment." The tutor can then say to pupils: "What happened in geography, then?' The system has the potential to change the whole nature of the conversation.

I wanted live data at our fingertips so that we could make better teaching and management decisions. For that reason, I see cloud technology - with its anytime, anywhere access - as the future. Indeed, we plan to take all our learning into the cloud environment.

Progresso will give us real-time data and reports on assessment, attendance and behaviour to support school improvement and deliver a 21st-century education. As it is cloud-based, we will no longer need to buy, manage, maintain or replace dedicated school servers and associated infrastructure. And freedom from the time-consuming overheads of local system administration will allow ICT staff to focus on other school priorities.

Working within a successful consortium means the heads and staff in our three schools need to monitor student progress in subjects taught in any of the schools. We are working towards a web-based, single database that allows easier data analysis, enables staff to ensure progress across the consortium and allows pupils and parents to evaluate their progress at whichever school lessons take place in. It will be a huge step forward from data held in isolation in single schools.

Tim Murphy is assistant headteacher at Sandringham School in St Albans

What else?

Could your students successfully manage information systems? James_abela's complete resource pack for BTEC level 3 will help them.

BECTA has shared an extensive guide to how technology can work for further education.

In the forums

In the TES ICT forum, teachers are still debating Michael Gove's announcement on ditching "boring ICT lessons" and replace them with computer science.

For all links and resources visit www.tes.co.ukresources019.

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