The year is now well underway and many schools will be open again, with staff and pupils refreshed and reinvigorated for the new term.
The next twelve months already look set to contain many exciting developments for schools, in addition to a number of challenges – in this blog we look ahead to the year and highlight a few topics that schools may need to consider.
- General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR)
When the new regulations on data protection – GDPR – were passed in April 2016, they allowed for a two-year transition before coming into force, giving data processors and controllers time to prepare for the new legislation.
That two-year grace period comes to an end on 25 May 2018, when the new laws will be implemented and in force.
For schools, GDPR will have a number of ramifications, mainly focussing on the way that pupils’ data is collected and managed, but also in regards to how personal information is accessed and made available when required.
At Capita SIMS, we have a number of different tools and support structures to help schools comply with the new regulations, including the new Parent Lite app, which provides parents and guardians with an easy-to-use interface for keeping their details up-to-date. To help get the process up and running, the SIMS Parent Lite app is included as part of the SIMS annual entitlement fee for any schools with a SIMS core start-up kit licence.
Our team also provides a wide range of support and guidance for schools looking to make the most of SIMS and comply with the new regulations – take a look at some of our solutions available to schools.
- Staff and student mental health
The mental health and wellbeing of individuals continues to be a hot topic in society and schools are no different, both in terms of staff and pupils, looking to make sure that everyone feels safe, secure and ready to tackle daily life in education.
In an age of social media, the pressure is greater than ever on students to conform and put their best foot forward, so encouraging learners to appreciate that life isn’t always like Instagram will be a challenge for schools.
At the same time, the continued pressure on teachers means that schools must continue looking for ways to make teaching a desirable and rewarding profession, which includes making the life of a teacher as straight forward as possible, eliminating any unnecessary workload pressure or challenges.
At SIMS we provide a number of solutions and services designed to lighten the load of daily school life and identify students in potential need of support or intervention.
- Continued growth of multi-academy trusts and converting academies
Since the government policy change to facilitate schools switching to academy status or developing multi-academy trusts (MATs), the number of schools joining this process has steadily increased.
This trend looks set to continue in 2018, with over 6,500 schools currently classed as academies and a further 1,200 in the pipeline to make the switch.
As more and more schools take greater control of their processes and resources, the need to produce reliable and robust data-driven reports will undoubtedly increase, with academies and MATs seeking ever more commercial solutions to their challenges.
And with that in mind, tools that allow senior managers in MATs to make informed decisions based on data from across their groups will become essential. For example, our solution, SIMS SchoolView, which has been nominated in this year’s Bett Awards, consolidates all the key info from across an academy group into ready-to-use dashboards.
You can register here to receive updates on our series of content for MAT leaders, to help stay up to date with developments as they happen.
- Gamification in the classroom
Back in October, our Director for Progammes and Strategy, Winston Poyton, shared his thoughts on ways that schools could tap in to the benefits of games to help children develop key skills for the classroom.
The popularity of games like Minecraft, which Winston references in his EdTech article with personal experience, only looks set to increase in 2018, providing schools with a great opportunity to engage their pupils and make learning more fun.
- Storage in the cloud
Since the boom in wireless networking and the rapid growth of smartphones and tablet devices, the demand for anywhere, anytime access to online services and applications has steadily risen.
As a result, more and more services are now being hosted or stored in the cloud – meaning that they are accessed via a remote, online network rather needing to be physically plugged into a connection.
This creates significant possibilities for schools, with opportunities to manage data such as attendance or behaviour while in the classroom or to present information to senior leaders from remote devices.
Add to this the benefit of no longer needing to maintain and update on-site servers, and the benefits of cloud-based storage look increasingly attractive.
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