"Summers had a logic all their own and they always brought something out in me. Summer was supposed to be about freedom and youth and no school and possibilities and adventure and exploration. Summer was a book of hope. That's why I loved and hated summers. Because they made me want to believe."
Benjamin Alire Saenz, Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe
As we prepare for our summer holidays, we can briefly look back at an amazingly busy Summer Term where it has been fan-tas-tic seeing so many of our schools at one of the nine SIMS Independent and International User Groups and for the first time we held our first ever European User Group in Cyprus; many thanks to all of the schools who hosted the user groups.
During the summer holidays we will be releasing updates to your SIMS online products in addition to the SIMS Summer release. Some of my highlights include:
1. Enhancements to SIMS Pay
SIMS Pay helps you easily collect payments from parents, securely and cost-effectively, using the data you already have in SIMS, and helping to significantly reduce time spent on payment administration. This can be for payments for Trips, Clubs, Events, Cashless Catering and any permission slips,
One of the common questions I get asked regarding SIMS Pay is can parents pay their Tuition Fees online, as they want one product for their parents to make all their payments to the school. As part of the Summer release of SIMS and SIMS Pay; Fees Billing and SIMS Pay will now be integrated which enables parents to see their outstanding balance and they will then be able to make payments for their fees either monthly (in case of Nurseries) or termly. This new feature will follow the current purchasing process and can be added to the basket along with any other items. This will be available by the start of Autumn term.
2. Options Online
We know that there will always be interesting conversations at home and in schools about the best option choices. The SIMS Options online product is part of the Curriculum Management suite and allows students to make their choices online, alternatively it also allows Form tutors or Housemasters to sit down with students to select their choices. To date, parents have had the ability to approve the student’s choices, but due to popular request the new release provides parents with the ability to enter the subject choices on behalf of their child. This will be available by the start of Autumn term.
3. Parental Engagement
As part of our engagement solution on the Parent App or website we allow parents to:
- Update their details and the children’s details on the Data Collection Sheet. These details will need approving by the school before SIMS is updated, saving time on producing the Annual / Termly Data Collection sheets being sent home to be updated or confirmed as correct
- View their children’s Timetable
- View the child’s Termly / Interim Assessment Reports
- View the child’s Attendance or Lesson Attendance
- Display any Achievement and Behaviour Incidents
- Find out what homework the child has been set
- Find out the latest Assessment results and progress their child is making
- Look at their Extra Curricular Activities including accepted attendance to the event
- View Term Dates
- View any Notifications / Messages
The amount of information shown in the app is controlled by the school.
One of the key elements in any engagement tool is knowing how engaged the parents are, so as part of the next release we are adding a Data Analysis tool which will graphically display the number of parents who have been invited, accepted or whose invitations have expired.
4. Google Class Room Integration
In my Autumn Release Blog I informed you about the Integration between Microsoft One and Teams with SIMS Assessments. We have also been working with Google to integrate Google Classroom to SIMS, seamlessly transferring assessments between the two. This is scheduled for release in September.
5. Continued Change Requests
In the SIMS Summer Release, we continue to enhance SIMS with the most popular change requests.
When a member of staff is entered on Staff Cover, the Cover Manager may enter a note about the absence, this note is now displayed in the Absence diary within the Staff record.
On an Assessment marksheet we have added an Additional column for Medical Conditions and added to the group filters allowing teachers to monitor pupils with specific medical conditions.
When I have visited schools, it has been mentioned to me that they have a number of reports created within SIMS and they don’t know if they are used, and if they are, how many times they are accessed. When you now open a Report using the Report Browser you will be able to see the last date it was accessed and the number of times a report has been run. This can’t be done for previously created reports but will work moving forward.
Another widespread request was about additional people living at the same address as the student. We have now added a table of anyone who has the same address as the student, this could be any parents, applicants, staff or other contacts.
I hope you’ll welcome all the enhancements we have included in the SIMS Summer 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.
Have a great summer!