Forest School is a place that encourages academic achievement and outstanding personal development.
It is an independent day school occupying a 50-acre site on the edge of Epping Forest. As London’s only diamond structure school, Forest provides single-sex teaching in a co-educational environment, for boys and girls aged 4-18 years.
Looking for an all-rounder system to offer us more support
We’d been with our previous MIS system for three years and most users, including me, had grown frustrated with a lot of elements – namely pupil registration, where our system would grind to a halt in the mornings. Not only this, but the hybrid nature of the system meant we had to switch between locally installed and web-based applications to carry out different tasks.
We were initially told that the problems we were experiencing were hardware related, so we configured a new server with much more sophisticated specifications, but the issues remained. This led us to review our MIS provider.
I identified iSAMS very early on as a leading contender to replace our MIS, as it was always well spoken of in various groups and forums. At the heart of our requirements was a responsive and reliable system, that’s accessible anywhere and open to integrations.
We knew we would only move if we found an MIS that ticked every box in an exhaustive list that we’d compiled from speaking to various stakeholders. A responsive and reliable system, accessible anywhere and open to integrations with other software, was at the heart of our requirements; and iSAMS was identified very early on as a leading contender, as it’s always well-spoken of in various groups and forums.
From first contact iSAMS was absolutely brilliant in not only responding to my queries but attending various stakeholder meetings addressing and allying concerns. They conducted a series of walkthroughs to demonstrate the capabilities of different elements of the system, including how they could overcome some of the challenges we faced with our old system, such as our Admissions process, lesson registration and writing school reports.
Our migration to iSAMS
Any mass installation process is going to be a little taxing, but our migration over to iSAMS went pretty smoothly. I was given various templates to complete by their Installs Team and they were always on hand to answer any questions I had. Overall, we managed to migrate 90% of the data we held on our previous MIS and, given how extensively we had used our previous system, I was pretty pleased with this outcome.
Our migration over to iSAMS went pretty smoothly and we managed to migrate 90% of the data we held on our previous, extensively used MIS.
Following the install and data migration, we had iSAMS come in and train our core staff over the summer. This was immensely useful as it meant I could focus on preparing the training material and delivering training to the rest of the staff.
Because of this, alongside the work iSAMS and I had done in the planning stages, the whole school was able to hit the ground running in September.
Using the iSAMS system
One of the things I like most about iSAMS is their openness to integrate with 3rd party products. They know they can’t be everything to everyone, but through their API’s we’re able to keep our data current, consistent and accurate across any 3rd party systems we use; our HR system even writes data back into iSAMS!
iSAMS are also very good at keeping up with technological trends and adapting to change, with their continued enhancement of existing modules and developing new ones as the older ones become outdated. One such example is their Medical Centre module, which saw a new iteration recently as the old Sanatorium functionality struggled to keep up with our school’s needs. Their recent introduction of two-factor authentication in response to advanced security measures is another example of their quick response to sector needs.
One of the things I like most about iSAMS is their openness to integrate with 3rd party products. Through their APIs we’re able to keep our data current, consistent and accurate across all the systems we use.
As something we struggled with in our previous MIS, and as a core part of our daily operations, getting registration right was essential – and iSAMS has yet to fail us. The Registration module just works and the wealth of reports available means that, whether it’s missing pupils or incomplete class registers, you’ll always be able to find the information you need.
Speaking of reports, the ability to build custom reports using Reporting Services (SSRS) has meant we don’t have to rely on anyone to draw our data or be restricted in the way we want to present it. The iSAMS Advanced SSRS training course really helped me take ownership of the reporting for the school and the spellcheck functionality in the School Reports module has become a particular favourite of the Leadership Team!
For our teaching staff, Contact Pupil Teachers is probably their favourite feature. Being able to quickly email teachers regarding a particular pupil via a series of clicks is just so handy. Not only this, but the iTeacher app has given staff further accessibility to iSAMS which is invaluable.
iSAMS has become central to our school’s operations. It is intuitive, reliable and, most of all, the staff like using it.
Something else we really appreciate is the accessibility of both iSAMS’ Support team and our dedicated Customer Account Manager, who are always ready to respond to any query I might have. No system is perfect, so what you want is a supplier who can recognise an issue when it occurs and to address it quickly and effectively; I’ve always found iSAMS to be exceptional at this, with support staff readily available and eager to help.
All in all…
From writing School Reports and taking registers, to complete Pupil Record Management and capturing academic data (and much more), iSAMS has become central to our school’s operations. It is intuitive, reliable and most of all the staff like using it which, from an IT perspective, is always an added bonus.