Partnerships for Assessment

With the countdown to BETT 2017 in its last days – its not surprising there has been a flurry of activity and announcements. Regular readers won’t be surprised that I have been following the changes in the Assessment landscape; and as part of that – there is some interesting news to report. When the new SIMS Assessment was launched, the initial release concentrated on the Primary sector, and was well received. You may remember mentions of Learning Ladders back then. At the start of the month, a technical partnership between Capita SIMS and Learning Ladders was announced – but what does this actually mean for Schools? For head teachers, it means that primary schools are going to be able to measure pupils’ progress without levels easily and then analyse that data within the SIMS management information system. This very important, as it will give the tools schools need to be able to compare the progress of their pupils against similar schools nationally; making those statistics relevant. Schools are getting more data savy – and this ability to compare will help bring the confidence that decisions made on the ground are improving outcomes for pupils; as well as highlighting areas where more work is required.


Learning Ladders allows the freedom to easily personalise the curriculum to support an individual school’s assessment policy. What makes this solution different is that it was developed for schools by schools. The system is designed to be intuitive, using ‘Ladders’. Once information has been entered into Learning Ladders against the individual ‘Ladder Rungs’ it is automatically imported into SIMS which 22,000 schools already use. The approach is designed to support formative assessment within the classroom and aims to involve the whole school community in a conversation about learning. This automatic import saves time and gives senior leadership teams an accurate benchmark of progress.


Phil Neal, a director at Capita SIMS, says: “In this post-levels world, it is more important than ever for senior leadership teams to identify any gaps in learning. We are pleased to be working with Learning Ladders as it is providing many primary schools with an easy to use solution to developing their curriculum and assessing pupils.”


Matthew Koster-Marcon, managing director of Learning Ladders, says: “Now that schools have the freedom to develop a curriculum tailored to the particular needs of their pupils, it follows that they need a solution that can simply analyse the overall progress of an individual, group or an entire class. Our partnership with SIMS equips schools across the country with all the curriculum management skills that they need.”

Im sure this partnership will continue to reap rewards for SIMS users; and it will be interested to follow with Rachael Marshman (Product Manager – SIMS Assessment) – the impact this is having.

Interventions, tracking effectiveness

Interventions is going to be a new module – baked into the SIMS7 core product. I’m quite excited about this – as it sounds like both Phil Neal (SIMs Director) and Lucy Crawford (Product Manager ) are as well – judging by both the presentation and lunch discussion we had at the Summer Conference.

The module is currently in development, and expected during the first half of 2017. I first heard about the idea for Interventions a few years ago now; as a way of bridging the gap for tracking the effectiveness of and reporting on actions staff take to ensure children reach their potential by early flagging and supporting of needs.

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Say hello to SIMS Activities

Fairly quietly at Bett 2016, Capita launched a new product to the SIMS family – SIMS Activities. Activities has been designed as a web based portal to allow schools to efficiently and effectively manage extracurricular activities and school trips. According to research, some schools are running as many as 50 extracurricular activities throughout the year, from music lessons to sports clubs to trips away, the administration can be extremely time consuming. SIMS Activities can save hours of daily administration time, gathering disparate bits of information from those running extracurricular activities.

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Review and Look ahead 2016

Regular readers will know what the second in the “SIMS Annual Conference” blog series is going to cover – but this year, there is a difference. We have no Phil Neal in this slot; and there is much more a of a “service” slant to the slot. Presenting this year were Julie Booth (Services and International Director) and Simon Smith (Product and Development Director).

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Greg Whyte – Change is possible

Quite fittingly – although perhaps none of us realised how fitting at the time – this years Capita SIMS Annual Conference opened with a keynote about change. The keynote was led by Greg Whyte – best known for his valiant efforts most recently with various Celebrity Challenges for Sport Relief. This article is a collection of the snippets of advice from his enlightening and enjoyable keynote.

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