Does it feel like Spring where you are yet? The appearance of daffodils, crocuses and lambs in the fields certainly makes you feel like the winter is behind us, but for me, this quote from Mark Twain sums up perfectly what we’ve all been experiencing recently.
“In the spring, I have counted 136 different kinds of weather inside of 24 hours.” Mark Twain.
Maybe it’s nothing new. It certainly makes things interesting. And so, from Mark Twain and hailstones and rainbows to the SIMS Spring Release and what we’ve been working on.
So, what’s in the Spring Release:
We are approaching the twelve-month anniversary of the introduction of GDPR in May. As you will know from my previous blogs, we are continually enhancing SIMS to help you meet your GDPR requirements. Following, the last few releases, you can now:
- produce a Person Data Output (PDO) report for a student, member of staff and contacts to assist with any Subject Access Requests (SAR) received.
- get your parents using the Parent App Lite which allows them to update their own information as well as the information you hold for their child. The app helps further ensure data accuracy and with its approval mechanism, gives you full control over the information before updating SIMS.
- monitor, evidence and record your data procedures to meet the new regulations with our partner product GDPRiS.
- meet your retention policy more effectively. We added new functionality to enable you to delete data for leavers who left more than three years ago such as alerts, attendance, concessions, conduct, curriculum, assessments, SEN information, Communication Log, Interventions and Active Directory Provisional Tools.
What’s more, as part of the Spring Release, we have extended the bulk deletion of students routine so you can now delete students in bulk to adhere to your retention policy and save your administrator or data manager a considerable amount of time.
2. Finance Management System (FMS)
As most bursars will know, there have been a few changes required by HMRC. Within the Spring Release are have developed:
- Provision of the Payment Analysis Report (Prompt Payments)
We have included a new report to analyse how quickly you pay your suppliers. This will enable you to produce the analysis required for the Prompt Payments as requested in the Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Act. UK companies are required to submit a report on a half-yearly basis detailing their payment practices, policies and performance. The report can also analyse historic data across the financial year.
- Making Tax Digital
From April HRMC are introducing a change to the way businesses submit their VAT returns. We have been working with HMRC to ensure our customers are able to meet this requirement and can submit their VAT returns electronically from SIMS FMS or SIMS Finance.
We have developed a utility for Making Tax Digital, available from April, which will enable you to submit your returns to the HMRC. Further information can be found on My Account.
3. Continued Change Requests
As always, we are continuing to enhance SIMS with the most popular change requests, most recently:
- the ability to link notes and documents to a behaviour incident via the Behaviour Incident Notes/Documents panel.
- the ability to review changes made to the status of a behaviour incident by clicking the Change Log button in the Details panel of the Behaviour Incident Details page.
- the ability to view the names of pupils/students who are associated with an achievement, behaviour incident or a detention via the Students Involved panel on the right-hand side of the browsers.
4. Parental Engagement
As you may already know, at the start of March we changed the name of SIMS Agora to SIMS Pay. This is part of our ongoing commitment to simplify our services and make it easier for you to use our services.
SIMS Pay will reduce school payment administration and continue to offer secure, seamless payment experiences for your parents and staff. Later this year Fees Billing will be integrated to allow parents to pay their outstanding balance using SIMS Pay
By the end of March, we will be integrating our parental engagement solutions meaning that from within the Parent App:
- InTouch customers who also have SIMS Parent will be able to send low priority messages (all messages except emergency alerts or unexpected absence messages) as push messages to SIMS Parent rather than SMS text messages, when the parent/guardian is signed in to the app. Parents can reply directly from SIMS Parent and these replies are visible in InTouch
- Parents will be able to confirm their child’s participation in activities, trips or events as SIMS Activities will be integrated with the app rather than going to a separate website
5. UK and International User Groups
We will be covering changes in the Spring Release and other enhancements during the Spring/Summer User Groups. The booking site is open on My Account:
UK user groups:
- 29th April, Midlands user group in Warwick
- 30th April, Northern user group in Manchester
- 2nd May, East Anglia user group in Norwich
- 3rd May, London user group in London
- 8th May, South East user group in Chertsey
- 9th May, South West user group in Winscombe
International user groups:
26/27th March, South East Asia user group (SEASIMS) in Singapore
13/14th June, European user group (EUROSIMS) in Paphos, Cyprus - please note the correct date (updated on the 8th April 2019, sorry for any inconvenience this may have caused)
I hope you’ll welcome all the enhancements we have included in the SIMS Spring Release and that they’ll prove useful to those in many roles across your school. Please do let me know what you think using the blog comments below.