By Simon Lewis
Management Information Systems (MIS) help schools to keep records of all the pupils in their school. At their most basic, they contain the address, date of birth, contact details and other simple data that a school would need to hand. However, an MIS can provide extremely useful information and data for schools. Consider the possibilities posed by software that could help your school decide whether to provide extra learning support for a child, or keep detailed behaviour or attendance/ punctuality records.
I will review some common MIS functionality below, you can keep these in mind when choosing the MIS that’s right for you. You will find a list of some of the more popular MIS systems currently being used in Irish schools at the bottom of this article.
Where possible, I would always recommend a cloud-based MIS over one that has to be installed on a single computer. It is important to be able to access the information on an MIS wherever you are. Arguments around security can be counteracted by ensuring basic rules are kept, e.g. no password-sharing, etc.
Ease of Use:
MIS software tailored specifically to the Irish market tend to be best in terms of ease of use. There are a number of big companies that attempt to localise their systems to Irish schools but, to date, this has not worked well because items that are important to Irish schools may be hidden deep within a navigation structure.
Plugs into government databases:
Both primary and post-primary schools must feed data to the government through their online databases (POD and PPOD respectively) so any MIS will have to plug into this to be worth its salt. This information is generally basic personal information but also includes areas such as ethnicity, religion and any additional needs.
The Department of Education recently allowed all schools to take electronic records of attendance. A good MIS will allow teachers to take these records each day and then send these records to the government. It should also have the capability of analysing absence records. For example, when a child has missed 20 days of school, an MIS can send an automatic text to his/her family.
Communicating with home:
Given that an MIS contains lots of data on pupils in a school, it can expand itself for other uses. Look out for MIS’s that allow for texting services, group emails to families, credit card payments, a library service and even the ability for parents to log into their child’s account to arrange play dates with their classmates! They can also support teachers with behaviour when every incident input to the system is time and date recorded, allowing the teacher to show a student’s detailed record over a period of time at the touch of a button.
Management Information Systems have revolutionised the way schools operate. From basic administration to full analysis of pupils’ test scores and communicating with home, a good MIS will give schools another string to their bow to help their pupils academic success.
Popular MIS Systems available in Ireland (in alphabetical order):
Aladdin (http://www.aladdin.ie) Primary
Databiz (https://www.databizsolutions.ie/contents/index.php) Primary
Facility (https://www.oneadvanced.com/ireland/products/facility-mis/) Post-Primary
SIMS (http://www.capita-sims.co.uk/) Post-Primary
VS Ware (http://vsware.ie/) Post-Primary