Every day is a smarter school day for Wallisdean Federated Schools

Overcoming the fear of change to make Wallisdean Federated Schools an even greater place for pupils to learn

Hampshire-based Wallisdean Junior School “is a great place to learn and pupils love the learning”. Not the words of the school, but from Ofsted inspectors in their latest report. In fact, they report the children told them: “Our teachers work hard for us.” Part of a federation, including a pre-school and infant school, the junior school caters for boys and girls aged 7 to 11.

It has a clear vision to “achieve of their best academically, emotionally, socially and physically”, adding that “each child is seen as an individual and their unique talents and strengths are recognised, celebrated and developed further.” But the school faced challenges in realising its vision and objectives – because of its MIS provider. The supplier left the school in the lurch when they abruptly took away personal support and moved to a five-day ticketing system.

Much-promised updates that had been in the works for close to half a decade never materialised, meaning the school had to scramble around for alternatives. However, while every school fears change – particularly with something as intricate as a management information system – this emergency turned out to be an opportunity in disguise.

Discovering the power of real-time data

Frustrated and unhappy with its existing MIS supplier, Wallisdean was looking for “one integrated system with everything in one place to combine everything for us and parents,” explains Ruth Tonkin, Admin officer and Deputy DSL, Wallisdean School. The school had already become big fans of IRIS ParentMail, having started using it a few years ago.

She says: “When IRIS came back to tell us they had an MIS we didn’t look at anyone else. We just love IRIS ParentMail and thought Ed:gen was going to be a bigger version of that, which would eventually do everything. It offered everything we wanted, so we decided to make the move.”

Overcoming fear of change

Was there any anxiety around switching suppliers?

“It was a bit scary and there were lots of sleepless nights,” Ruth says.

“But the data migration process was easier than we expected. Whenever we asked questions from IRIS we got clear answers.

“It was scary taking out all the data, seeing it raw but the technical installer was amazing, and everything worked fine.” Executive headteacher Sandra Cammish says: “If there were problems there would be someone on a call or in a meeting sorting it out and keeping us updated. If we were sitting here with the same problems with our previous supplier, we would have nowhere near the same level of service.”

Saving money

Cost was also a factor with the previous supplier “so expensive”.

Ruth says: “Our old supplier SIMS told us: ‘don’t go with them, they don’t know what they are doing.’ But the quote that came back from IRIS was less than SIMS.  We even saved money on IRIS ParentMail when we were quoted for Ed:gen.”

Time savings

Crucially, it has helped substantially with saving time for key tasks like carrying out a census, which Ruth said was “a breeze…much easier than SIMS.”

She adds: “We had it done in under half an hour on the day, even with Ofsted there.”

Anytime, anywhere

Another key element in attracting Wallisdean to IRIS Ed:gen was the way its next-generation, cloud-based technology makes data accessible anytime, anywhere. Where previous, clunky MIS systems had kept information siloed and out of reach, teachers and leadership are now able to take advantage of real-time data at their fingertips.

Better data means better decisions

With this improved access to data, the school suddenly had a better idea of what was going on. Across the organisation, trends that had previously been missed were suddenly identifiable and actionable, meaning teachers and staff could see things happening in real time. This not only meant they could make more effective interventions but explain exactly what was going on to concerned parents.

Ruth says: “The reporting is far easier and more bespoke. The attendance reports were really helpful for our recent parents’ evening, giving the teachers detailed information about lates, thereby helping them to explain percentages to parents and how this has affected their child’s progress.”

A helping hand at every stage

One of the key issues with Wallisdean’s previous provider was the lack of guidance that came with their contract. Switching to IRIS Ed:gen changed all that. Not only was the migration seamless and overseen by a friendly team of experts, the support doesn’t stop now the system is up and running.’ to ‘Not only was the migration seamless and overseen by a friendly team of experts, the support hasn’t stopped now the system is up and running. The school can call upon the IRIS team at any point for assistance, giving them the peace of mind that everything will continue to run smoothly.
Ruth says: “The training and support we’ve received has been outstanding.”

And for IRIS, Wallilsdean have been an exemplary school to work with on their migration journey.

“Wallisdean is a great example of a forward-thinking, modern school that understands the importance of having a cloud-based integrated MIS, underpinned by outstanding customer support” says Winston Poyton, Senior Product Director, IRIS Education.

How can IRIS Education help you?

Get in touch today to find out how.