Solution evaluation checklist
Use this handy buyer's guide checklist to compare different systems side by side. Just click the print button in your web browser to create your own checklist.

Top Tip

Compare on a like-for-like basis

When comparing different school MIS systems, take care to compare the different solutions on your shortlist on a like-for-like basis. It's easy to get seduced by a low base price as pointed out in this article from Independent Education Today . Also take in to account things like hardware, setup consultancy and training to see the true cost of installing each system. Cutting corners on these things is really false economy with other systems, unless you've braced yourself for a long project implementation.

With Plus4Schools, initial setup, training, data import as well as ongoing support, maintenance and training are all part of the package.

Report Writing

Top Tip

Solutions that handle this task well are flexible to fit in with your 'house style' and enhance collaboration. Solutions that fail tend to be prescriptive (e.g. comment banks) or place a huge burden on a few people to collate contributions in to the final documents.

Criteria My current process Plus4Schools
Time saving report writing tools that give teachers freedom of expression and freedom to work when and where they like
Time saving authoring tools without comment banks
Work at home or school
No risk of data loss or viruses from memory sticks
Time saving parallel working on the same pupil simultaneously by multiple teachers
Individual, personalised teacher summaries for parents’ consultations etc
Report documents to match your existing school styles
Instantly refer to previous reports
Instant process monitoring to relieve stress in the staff room
Publish online to parents with no additional effort

Parent Portal

Top Tip

Solutions that handle this task well are easy for infrequent users to navigate, yet give quick access to topical information for regular users. Solutions that fail tend to look impersonal or don't work well on all of the devices that parents may have.

Criteria My current process Plus4Schools
Powerful, interactive communication with parents without paper that’s highly personalised to each user
Controlled access to pupil data enables parents to close the loop on inaccurate school data
Responsive design for easy viewing on mobile devices without the hassle of managing Apps
Publish reports and receive parental comments online
Automatically alert relevant staff to parent input
Publish newsletters and consent forms and receive electronic replies
Publish reference documents eg handbook, fee data and policies, avoiding costly mass paper distribution
Easy to use content creation tools giving professional looking results with no website experience required

Pupil Database

Top Tip

Solutions that handle this task well provide multiple levels of users access to ensure data is entered in a controlled way to comply with DfE and data protection requirements. Solutions that fail tend to place barriers in the way of other users such as teachers quickly accessing information they need encouraging them to create shadow databases or lists of the same information which become out of date, are less secure and can't be verified.

Criteria My current process Plus4Schools
Centralised definitive source of pupil information accessible to all staff
Sections to record contact information, admissions, medical and pastoral data
Photograph library for easy visual recognition of pupils
Provides source data for other modules eg for age normalisation, analysis by group membership etc

Management Information (MIS)

Top Tip

Solutions that handle this task well link information from different 'working' modules to give a rounded view of each child and emerging trends within groups. Solutions that fail tend to make creation of reports convoluted or take a long time to update data view if you change the selection criteria, making 'design by experiment' frustrating for users not versed in database programming.

Criteria My current process Plus4Schools
Instant access to analysis reports that answer common information questions in Independent Schools
Each report gives instant answers and can be further customised to refine the result
Track reports and assessments by pupil, class or year group
Track pupil progress over time
Create lists, mailing labels, census data and other ready-formatted documents
Instant download of formatted data to Office applications
Graphical and text based reports


Top Tip

Solutions that handle this task well make it easy for teachers to enter test results quickly and accurately that can be easily shared across subjects and with pastoral staff. Solutions that fail tend to feel like data entry is a chore with no reward for the effort involved or require reentry later to create reports.

Criteria My current process Plus4Schools
Easy to use storage of key test results
Reading and spelling ages instantly plotted against chronological age
CAT and SATs scores
Extra curricular activities and awards enabling you to capture the whole child
Flexible automatic links to report document creation
Flexible time controlled input controls to avoid data entry mistakes


Top Tip

Solutions that handle this task well personalise communications for each user's needs. Solutions that fail tend to simply broadcast everything to everybody, leaving users drowning in irrelevant information or don't provide straightforward ways for users to update information.

Criteria My current process Plus4Schools
Advanced communication tools for information sharing with staff and parents
Time based publishing to ensure information is relevant
School calendar with unique views for staff and parents
Write school newsletters and documents for publication on paper or via the parent portal
Environmentally friendly, money saving paperless communications