The time has come – the blog is moving to my new domain http://www.thescarfedone.co.uk. This is live now, and all the posts and comments should have moved across. There may be the odd gremlin around though – so please bear with me.
So, its now a year on since levels were removed – and while some are well down the journey and have built their own systems; lots haven’t and there is still a lot of uncertainty. The title of this post is a nod to the well known song (just missing the Winter (and, Fall is Autumn in our case). Still, there’s a bit of creative licence! Anyway, I digress… where does the SIMS Assessment, Performance Suite and Discover fit into this jigsaw now?
The obvious point is that we are no longer using levels and points for SATS. According to Rachael Marshman (Product Manager), this is a good thing, the previous version was quite complex and difficult to set up.
Now, formative assessment and reporting is supported straight out of the box. This is significant, regular assessment that you are used to can still be done – after all, what you need to do is record knowledge and skills; but the additional functionality gives more focus on what a child does and doesn’t know.
The intention from the outset was to build a comprehensive solution for EYFS, which meant that there was also a need to ensure that there were resources to deal with historic data too. Much new functionality has been built, and will continue to be built around the programme of study. The key to making this work was Customer engagement, which is ongoing. The secondary solution is still being built, and the primary version evolved – working with customers to understand their need has been of massive importance.
Unless you’ve been living under a rock – you can’t have missed that Microsoft have been rather busy for the past 18 months.
Back in late 2014, Microsoft surprised everyone when it took the wraps off the Technical Preview of its next Windows operating system. It had been widely expected that there would be a next generation of Windows: we just didn’t expect it to be called Windows 10, and nor did we expect such a drastic change in user engagement. The preview programme was huge, and I think it can be considered that Windows Insider was a huge win. Over 4 million people joined the programme and helped test and shape the next version. So much of a win was it, that it was extended to the Windows Mobile version, and also to Office 2016 as well.
As I mentioned in an earlier article, Phil Neal (Capita SIMS Managing Director) very kindly agreed to meet with me to discuss his views on Education, and his products in general. My continued thanks to Olga and Cath at CLPR (www.catherinelane.com) for arranging the meetings.
So – on to the actual discussions! We started off looking at the development of the Azure Hosted platform. You can read more about this solution launch here. This has led to a shift in support from Capita SIMS explained Phil – as this meant they were now supporting 24/7 working. This is a pattern that has grown of late – starting with the Agora payment system launched at BETT in 2013 – and one which will only continue as new products and services are launched.
The Capita SIMS annual conference opened with a change this year – gone was the “external host”; and instead we had a welcome return for Graham Cooper – Head of Product Strategy. Grahams opening had one key message – “where SIMS is used well in schools, it has the power to make a difference to children’s’ future”. Fitting, in a time where there is so much focus on the complete journey of a child.
As is traditional at the SIMS Annual Conference, which took place in June at Alton Towers, Phil Neal (Managing Director of Capita SIMS) took to the stage to review the previous year – and give some insight into the company targets and highlights in the forthcoming year. This, I was able to follow-up with Phil later – as he kindly agreed to speak to me further to elaborate on some of the ideas for the future; and his own personal highlights and opinions on the sector and Education. That article will follow soon – but for now, on with an overview of what has happened and the road ahead…
So, almost 6 months have passed since the release of the first version of the SIMS Teacher App – available in the first instance for Apple iOS only. All the while, the aim was to make a Teacher App for all the mobile devices – so one for devices running Android, and also one for those running the Windows App framework on Windows 8.1 onwards.
By now, it can’t have escaped your notice that big changes are afoot in the ways schools measure and report progress. The “old” levels system is “out”. For many years, it underpinned the way in which teachers recorded and measured the capabilities of their cohort; as well as provided a way to compare individual and group performance. This system and the national curriculum are changing… radically.
“…evolving with you to help you manage the changes to assessment and the national curriculum…”
Guest Post by the education charity Shine (Support and Help in Education)
Teachers across England have great ideas every day to excite and engage their pupils. The Let Teachers SHINE competition, run by education charity SHINE (Support and Help in Education), gives ten teachers a chance to develop these ideas, offering grants of up to £15,000 for any successful submission aimed at raising the achievement of disadvantaged children. Sometimes a picture/video tells the story better – take a look at the following (2mins long)… http://www.shinetrust.org.uk/support-us/get-involved/shine-in-2-minutes/