With the autumn term now in full swing, we thought it was time to update you on everything that you can expect to see from SIMS this new term. With a range of new features in our Bett-award winning product, SIMS Assessment, and updates to our cloud-based products, there are plenty of new developments that we hope will help to make your day jobs easier.
Easily identify persistently absent students
As part of our SIMS Core Suite updates, we have improved a key report in SIMS Attendance to help schools identify students with persistence absence. The report enables schools to understand persistent absence, so that you can compare your figures with national figures and benchmarks. Persistent absence is now based on a possible number of sessions for each pupil or student, rather than being based on a standardised number of sessions within school. To keep in line with the latest DfE requirements, our new report also allows you to report on whole school, year groups or registration groups for the whole year, or specific dates where they have exceeded a set threshold. The threshold is defaulted to the DfE’s persistent absence of 10%, but you can change this.
The extra detail provided in the report will allow you to flag students with persistent absence, which we hope will be a useful feature for many schools.
You can find the report in the following menu route:
(Reports | Attendance | Whole Group Student Reports | Persistent Absence Report – Student Threshold)
More flexibility to assess how you choose
‘Teach the curriculum however you choose and let SIMS provide the tracking and analysis based on what you teach' – it’s a statement we are continually striving to support. Building on the success of SIMS Assessment, we are supporting schools to achieve this goal by enhancing the flexibility within the Programme of Study so that from the Autumn Release, primary and secondary schools will have the ability to customise the default grades, colours and grade descriptions being used. Also, secondary schools will be able to define their own Programme of Study at Key Stage 4, as Years 10 and 11 are being included into this area too. You can find out further details about this and other SIMS Assessment updates in Rachael Marshman’s blog.
A range of assessment resources available at the click of a button
To help you use SIMS to carry out the complicated new calculations for the new Key Stage 4 headline measures, we are regularly updating and improving the resources available in My Account. For example, we have created new SIMS Assessment templates to calculate Attainment 8 and Progress 8 figures for each year up until 2020, plus a series of reports to help present this information in an easy to understand way. This includes a report which looks similar to the Inspection Dashboard that you will have seen on RAISEonline. We update all templates and reports as soon as national figures become available, meaning you will always have the most accurate figures possible. There are also templates available to calculate Key Stage 2 fine scores, which is also available for all years until 2020.
You can find the resources here. You will also find a link to a video which explains how to use these resources.
Easily make bulk updates in SIMS Activities
It is now much quicker and easier to make bulk updates in SIMS Activities, our latest product, which allows schools to efficiently manage their extra-curricular activities. Our recent enhancements mean that you can now update details for all future occurrences of an activity, in one go. Whether it’s a change of time, location or duration, you only need to update the details once and you’ll have the option to automatically update the information for all future occurrences of the activity. You can also bulk invite pupils to an activity, which is particularly useful when you are opening a new activity.
If you’re an existing customer, you can find more information about these new features and more through the SIMS Activities documentation centre, which can be accessed through the help button within SIMS Activities. You’ll also find the latest news, forums and can suggest future enhancements for SIMS Activities through My Account. If you would like to find out more about SIMS Activities, you can find out more details on our website.
Efficiently make refunds in SIMS Agora
One of the most popular requests we’ve received from our SIMS Agora customers has been to streamline the refunds process, making it more efficient for schools and parents to use. We’re introducing ‘refund to card’ functionality at the end of October, which removes the need for schools to manually complete this process. This means that once a parent has requested a refund and it’s been authorised, they will receive the funds back into the same account within two full working days. This will also help to support schools to become cashless by removing the need to handle cash and gives your staff more time to focus on other tasks within your school.
To find out about the other features you can expect to see in SIMS this autumn, take a look at our pre-release notes, available on My Account.