Latecomer saved by going on trial;Education;West Lothian

15th May 1998 at 01:00
West Lothian's decision to choose Scetworks 97 is seen by SCET as highlysignificant. This authority, Nigel Paine points out, did not make a hasty decision or one based on what other authorities were doing. Instead, it took time to look at the competing systems, at the end of which, the results were overwhelminglyin favour of Scetworks 97.

SCET nearly missed this boat, too. Des Walsh, West Lothian's IT client services manager, says: "We set up a working group and invited demonstrations. Two seemed useful - Phoenix and SIMS. At that time (November 1996), SCET was a non-starter." Of the two, SIMS seemed the better bet - "more modules, a big user base". But, after a trial, SIMS was deemed unsuitable, and it was back to the drawing board.

The authority ran a series of evaluations involving Phoenix and Scetworks 97. One special school ran both systems together for some time. "Scetworks was better received, and we were convinced that the supplier could grow the product in line with our needs," said Mr Walsh.

West Lothian has ambitious plans for using ICT in developing its links with schools. The vision goes far beyond the simple electronic transfer of budgetinformation, and looks towards thesharing of data, for management and school development, in a way that willreinforce the authority-school partnership.

It involves big investments with SCET's partner, RM, that include installing the SuccessMaker integrated learning system in all its secondary schools. This forward-looking authority clearly believes that Scetworks 97 will provide the meansof realising its vision.

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