Nick Finnemore the Head Of Product Management explains about some of the new features within SIMS… logo


With the new school year now in full swing, schools across the country are dealing with an array of changes to the new curriculum. SIMS is constantly evolving to help schools manage these changes effectively, which is why the Autumn release has a range of new enhancements and features that will make life easier for school leaders, teachers, technical and admin staff. Here are some of my top highlights:

1. New School Report

Reports | School Report

One of the big news items for SIMS this autumn is the new School Report. This feature provides an instant overview of your school, based on the latest data held in SIMS. This will give school management teams an insight into their current pupil numbers, attendance, achievement and behaviour information as well as some Assessment data for Key Stage 2 and 4, for which you will need to complete the assessment mapping first. There’s the option to view either a long or short version of the report and you can export it into pdf or excel so that you can share it with key stakeholders in your school.

2. Responding to the national curriculum changes

The removal of levels in the new national curriculum is one of the biggest challenges currently facing schools. We’re confident that SIMS can provide a solution for your school, whichever approach you choose to take. We have already made some notable enhancements to the New Curriculum Progress Grids for the Autumn release. These include:

  • A replacement for the original DfE-aligned outcomes of pupils being ‘at expected’, ‘above expected’, or ‘below expected’. The language used within the Early Years Foundation Stage has been extended into KS1 and KS2 so that attainment can be recorded against knowledge descriptors as either ‘Emerging’, ‘Developing’, ‘Secure’ or ‘Mastered’.
  • Foundation subjects have been split so that each subject now has its own separate tab.
  • An ‘overall assessment’ has been introduced so that teachers can apply a judgement to each subject and record what stage of the National Curriculum a pupil is working within.
  • Values have been introduced to individual statements of knowledge to allow for the reporting and analysis of information.

With these changes to the Progress Grids teachers can now record achievement against all of the National Curriculum Programmes of Study (PoS) in a simple traffic light display, whether a pupil is ‘emerging’ and just starting  to learn a new skill, ‘developing’ showing an increased understanding in that area, or ‘secure’ when they  have achieved expectations. Teachers can also go on to indicate if a child has ‘mastered’ a skill upon  gathering further evidence of deeper understanding being shown.

Any attainment data recorded through the progress grids in Autumn will feed into the completely new assessment without levels solution being introduced in Spring. This includes a new screen for more efficient recording of achievement against the entire National Curriculum PoS and will be linked to instant analysis and individual reports.

3. Support for Universal Infant Free School Meals

With schools being paid funding for each meal taken by newly universal infant free school meal pupils, you need peace of mind that all pupils are being charged correctly. SIMS Dinner Money reports can now identify Universal Infant Free School Meal numbers separately from paid and Free School Meals, ensuring that all school records are accurate and reflect changes in government policy.

4. Enhanced Quick Search

The SIMS quick search facility helps you save time when you need to find pupil details, a birthday, a car registration or a particular home or email address.

SIMS now has enhanced the quick search to make it even quicker and easier to find information. For example, currently the hashtag search relies on knowing search terms such as #B for a birthday list or #A for an email or part of an address, where you don’t know the full information.  We’ve adjusted this to use plain English for search terms instead of hashtags, for example you can now search for ‘Year 7 Boys’ instead of ‘#Y 7 #M’.

The search has also been extended to include user defined fields, wildcard search (Sm?th), age search, finding a sibling and setting up shortcuts for frequently used searches. All of these adjustments have been made to save valuable time for schools and I hope will encourage many of you to try out quick search when you next need to find something!