New performance measures such as Progress 8 have led some multi-academy trusts to move away from traditional data-system providers.
“Added layers of complexity” have helped to shake up the management information system (MIS) market at present dominated by Capita SIMS, which supports more than 80 per cent of schools.
But a desire to access data quickly on any device, and pull data centrally from across all schools, has resulted in gains from cloud-based providers, Schools Week was told. RM Integris now holds 10 per cent of the market.
Other companies, such as Follett and Pearson, have left what James Weatherill of MIS provider Arbor Education calls a “tough market”.
SIMS served 18,162 schools in 2015, but was down 274 in 2016, according to the Department for Education’s latest data.
The volume of education data is rapidly increasing due to schools deploying more apps and tests to prove pupil progress
RM Integris gained 12 schools to reach 2,248 overall last year, while the smaller ScholarPack and PupilAsset gained 155 and 142 more schools respectively.
“The volume of education data is rapidly increasing due to schools deploying more apps and tests to prove pupil progress,” Weatherill said.
Academies Enterprise Trust (AET), the biggest academy chain in the country, is migrating to a cloud-based MIS called Progresso operated by Advanced. At present, about 80 per cent of its academies use Capita SIMS, with the rest on Advanced’s CMIS/Facility and RM Integris.
A spokesperson for AET said: “The introduction of the EBacc changed the way data is used. The need to identify that different elements are fulfilled has added a level of complexity which has meant our academies have looked to more sophisticated software to ensure this is monitored.”
The introduction of Progress 8 “added” to that complexity. The move away from the C/D boundary meant the “grade of every pupil counts, which has brought more rigour to tracking and analysing data”.
John Roberts, an education technology consultant, said Progress 8 and the EBacc presented a “real challenge” if analytics for the measures had to be created for each school with an in-house MIS.
Cloud-delivered solutions would allow a provider to “roll out changes to analytics centrally”, said Roberts. He added that support would still need to be “excellent”.
Phil Neal, director of Capita SIMS, said “churn in the market” benefited schools as it ensured MIS suppliers kept improving their products. He added that 200 schools returned to SIMS after initially moving to other suppliers over 2016.
“Schools have been attracted to systems that on the surface look simpler than SIMS, but many have returned to us when they discover that these systems do not have the necessary depth they need for their school.”