The busy summer term is drawing to a close, which means it’s time for me to share the highlights of the SIMS Summer Release and to update you on some the new functions which will be available in SIMS modules this summer.
Get up-to-date with GCSE performance indicator reporting
It’s been a year of change for GCSE exams in England with the A* to G grades being replaced by grades 9 to 1 in English and maths. To respond to this, the new grade structure will now be accommodated in the performance indicator report in SIMS.
To ensure your reports are accurate following the change, you will need to update all qualifications in the managed performance indicators screen, which was introduced in the SIMS Spring Release. For schools in Wales, you will need to import the latest performance measures file, and Northern Ireland Schools need to import the NIEFQAN file to ensure your performance measures are up to date.
More functionality in Windows for the SIMS Teacher app
We are delighted to announce too that the SIMS Teacher app now has the same level of functionality in Windows as in iOS, so Windows users can do everything on the app that iPad users can. This means that schools which use Windows tablets can now manage their dinner registers quickly and simply via the app.
The SIMS Parent app is taking off
More than 100 schools have now signed up to the SIMS Parent app. This means that the number of parents using the app will very soon be reaching the thousands.
We have just released a new assessment element to the app that allows parents to see how their children are performing, which is a great way to spark conversations between parents and children and help parents support their child at school.
We are making further enhancements to the app to make sure parents don’t miss out on important information. Ready for the Autumn term, we will be introducing more proactive notifications so that parents can see daily updates relating to the behaviour and achievement of their child on their phones.
We will also be providing schools with more information on app users. They will, for example, be able to see which parents are using the SIMS Parent app and which parents have not yet engaged with it. This useful tool will enable schools to actively target parents and encourage them to use the app.
No limits for InTouch
There’s good news for schools which use SIMS InTouch, our texting and emailing tool. Schools will now have the option to purchase unlimited text messages as well as text bundles. So there is no barrier to how often you use SIMS InTouch to send messages or alerts to parents, staff or pupils.
Make the most of your school clubs with SIMS Activities
SIMS Activities helps schools with their extra-curricular activities, and some schools have asked us to support them with clubs that are over-subscribed. We have recently released new functionality to enable schools to manage their activity waiting lists through SIMS Activities. This means that schools can keep create a reserve list for activities, as well as use it as an opportunity to gauge interest in running new activities.
We are also introducing a new safeguarding feature which adds a note of how a child is getting home from an activity, so schools not only know which children are attending, but also who is collecting them.
Another step towards cashless transactions
Our online school payments system, SIMS Agora, enables parents to pay for their child’s school meals electronically, but until now, staff have had to pay for their meals in cash. From this summer, staff will also have the ability to pay for their school meals online through SIMS Agora, paving the way for schools to run an entirely cashless canteen.
We are also pleased to announce that from the new school year parents will be able to select their child’s school meals online through SIMS Agora for those schools that want to offer this facility.
We have been listening to our customers and gathering feedback from our regional user groups, and as a result we will be delivering eight key enhancements to Solus 3 which will make it easier for schools to keep their SIMS software up-to-date. To keep posted on these developments, take a look at My Account, and watch this space for more news.
It’s our aim to tailor SIMS more closely to your needs, so if you have any thoughts on the improvements we’re making, or if you have a good idea about how to make SIMS work better for your school, please post any comments below or in the My Account Support forums.