Last week was BETT week – the annual education technology exhibition in London’s ExCeL. It gives education suppliers a global stage on which to launch their new products.  I visited on Thursday and Friday with a special interest in the new develops that Capita SIMS were showcasing.

The New Teacher App for SIMS

Capita’s main product launch at the show was their new SIMS Teacher App – an iPad app that links back to the school SIMS database and gives classroom teachers useful information direct to their iPad. Once the app has been downloaded and a very secure logon process has been completed, the app downloads all the useful information for the teacher for the next 24 hours. So the teacher’s timetable, all the relevant registers and behaviour/achievement details  are downloaded into an app with a very elegant interface.

The app automatically knows the time, date and which lesson a teacher is taking and can display the name and a photograph of all the students in a particular class.

A screenshot from the new SIMS Teacher App

A screenshot from the new SIMS Teacher App

Teachers can take a register and identify exactly how late a pupil arrives to class. It provides access to staff and pupil timetables, and allows behaviour and achievement incidents to be logged very smoothly and quickly. Field Trips or PE Lessons away from the school are no problem, as the system will re-synchronise when the teacher returns to school. And yes, everything is encrypted and very secure.

Of course I was particularly interested in the integration of SIMS assessment manager into the app. Using the app a teacher can call up all their marksheets and enter data via a very nice, very slick interface. But (and there’s always a but) any marksheet column that shows a formula doesn’t yet appear on the app (and hence there’s no calculate button). So the app is good for data entry and for good for data review but not for data analysis. I’m told that formulas and more analysis will be introduced into a future version. But that’s a minor quibble. If your school already has lots of teachers with iPads, and if your teachers need easy, convenient and portable access to SIMS, you’ll want to investigate this app.

Windows and Android version are in development. Pricing seems reasonable (from memory, £2 per pupil with deals for very large schools). More details from your local SIMS support unit who will be able to confirm availability and pricing. Capita have produced a demo video here.