I joined Applicaa in January after working as a Data Manager for a MAT in South London.
Because I’d worked in IT before going into Education, I spent a lot of time in schools thinking, “There must be a way of automating this task…”, but schools are hectic places and I rarely had time to sit down and do the programming necessary to put my ideas into place.
Working at Applicaa has meant a lot of the ideas I’ve dreamt of turning into reality are now within reach. I’ve been fortunate to have a great team of developers to help build tools that I’d always wished I’d had as a Data Manager.
Some of these tools are already live in the system, such as the feature which lets you send a bulk request to your feeder schools asking them to send a CTF file. There is also a new feature we’re about to deploy which helps put new Year 7 and Year 12 students into tutor groups.
New Student Transition Tool
For those of you that use our product, you already know we can securely send requests to referees of applicants to Sixth Form to gather more information about the students. I started to wonder if this could be used to find out information about new students joining schools – either in September as Year 7 or Year 12’s, or even for in-year applicants.
This came from personal experience seeing how the best-laid plans of Assistant Headteachers tasked with ensuring a smooth transition into secondary often hit the rocks – either because of the pandemic, or more common issues such as a simple lack of time to go and visit all the feeder schools.
I remember with some fondness a former colleague, who was a delightful Head of Year 7, would come in with a big stack of notes about new students joining the school hoping I could disseminate them to their September teachers. Sometimes student names would be missing or illegible.
Then inevitably, over the summer, things change and students change. Did I inform the right science teacher about the student with a fear of insects?
Because I used SIMS on a day-to-day basis as Data Manager, I wondered if there couldn’t be an easy way for teachers at a previous school to type in comments about a new student’s abilities (and arachnophobia!) that could be automatically written into SIMS. Then Year 7 teachers could see an unfiltered view from former teachers, even if they weren’t from your own school!
This idea has now become the Applicaa Transition Tool
You can now automatically send a message to a student’s previous school which they open and a referee can write a few lines about a student’s performance, so can the former teacher, and through the use of mark sheets tied to new classes in SIMS, these can easily be made available for their new teachers to read…amazing! : )
We’re hoping that schools find this useful, and perhaps in a few years, this might end up becoming an easy way for reports on students to ‘follow’ them from one school to the next.
We now have schools using this and are eagerly awaiting their feedback so make it even slicker!
If you have ideas of what we can build for you to make your jobs easier please let us know!
By Jeff Clark | Applicaa Product Manager and former Data Manager