We have run sitewide biometrics for registration that feedback to SIMs for 4 years now.
The idea behind this was that we didn’t want teachers to have to worry about registration, pupils could sign in (not forget their details or their thumb) and boom, registration done.
Apart from it didn’t quite work like that.
Pupils couldn’t move through the scanner fast enough. That was the main issue. That, and the fact that the staff are responsible for registering children. So if they don’t scan, for whatever reason, the school still needs to register then.
Staff ended up checking attendance via a web interface for the biometric solution. Ongoing costs were significant for the hardware too: if staff were going to have to check on the PC – why not just use SIMs
Well, simple answer is – SIMs is not the quickest or most user friendly of applications, something Capita themselves are well aware of (hence the new web based version on the way).
At BETT this year I paid a lot of attention to the new SIMs parent app and the teacher app, which is more established.
We are lucky that the large majority of our staff have an iPad. Underused, but not for long – as we have just begun to roll out the SIMs teacher app.
When you are training staff on something new, you can tell in an instant if you have got them onboard. I could tell the moment I showed this to SMT and then the wider staff – that people could see the potential.
There are three main elements to the app (available on iPads, android and Windows 10)
- Attendance – quickly mark users present, absent, late or code them. It’s all taken live and sent back live too.
- Behaviour – log incidents in an interface that is a million times easier then usual
- Assessment – easily add data into SIMs. It’s that simple.
You can also access info about a particular student quickly and easily, and it is all based around your timetable. Which again, is live, so is updated with any cover lessons.
It’s simple. It is well designed. These are very important points that make it so effective. Capita could have got it so wrong and spoilt it – but they didn’t.
We use Office365 to authenticate users, and, whilst the initial setup of users and devices is somewhat of a ball ache -it’s necessary for security.
Hopefully improvements to integrate with Intouch are in the future plans – but for now, our biometric units are being switched off in Easter.