Schools MI: Local Authority briefing note

Schools MI: Local Authority briefing note


This note to Heads of IT and Heads of Education is to update colleagues on plans for a user-led discovery into the current Education Management System market. 

The problem

Schools in Wales under local authority control, need to collect management information to run the school and report performance. 

It’s recognised that LAs need to understand the market options for providing this service in line with their current support contracts. However, there is a risk that councils could procure different systems, or systems that don’t fully meet user needs. This could lead to additional problems further down the line. 

There is an ambition to work together, across Welsh councils, to a shared set of core requirements that would then present new opportunities for collaboration across Wales. 

What we’re doing about it

WLGA and CDPS have partnered to conduct a “discovery” into the needs of schools and LAs for a management information system. This is endorsed by Sam Hall, Chief Digital Officer for Local Government and Glyn Jones, Chief Digital Officer for Welsh Government. 

A discovery is a phase of work where we learn about the problem and identify the needs of those who will use the solution. We will talk to real users about their experiences and develop deep insights into the problem area. A discovery is typically 8-12 weeks long and at the end of this discovery, we plan to have a needs-based procurement specification for an Education Management System. 

It will be down to LAs to procure and configure their systems. We have a shared ambition across councils, CDPS and WLGA to work together as a consortium to an agreed set of requirements that satisfy us all. 

Scope of the discovery 

The discovery will look at the following areas:

  • Review and validate the findings of the previous discovery carried out by WLGA (this was done with 6 local authorities)

Building on those findings…

  • Look at the end-to-end service to understand opportunities across the entire user journey 
  • Establish a core data set or sets
  • Configurability by individual schools
  • Infrastructure needs 
  • Interoperability with other systems
  • Reporting

Not in scope:

  • Schools not under LA control
  • Parental access to the system or data
  • Welsh Government requirements
  • Estyn requirements 

The team

We’ve recruited two User Researchers who will engage with each LA to understand the pain points within existing systems, and the needs of schools for their management information. They will need access to school staff and teachers for interviews and other research techniques. 

One of the researchers has previously worked with the (English) Department for Education and has experience of existing systems. 

They will be supported by a Delivery Manager, who will be in regular contact with you.


We will be running this as an agile project; we will work in short phases of two weeks, with regular sharing of what we have learned. You will all be invited to our show & tells, which will be the main opportunity to provide feedback. 

In addition to the stakeholder group on this project, where each LA has at least one representative, we will form a smaller strategic governance group. We would like to invite volunteers, especially if you are empowered to represent the views of more than one LA. Please get in touch with Joanna by 8 August. 


comments user
Anwen Orrells

As Service Manager for Education Support Services, could you please add my name to the stakeholder group on the project and as an additional volunteer, to represent the views of School Service in Powys.

comments user
Christine Francis

We would like to volunteer from Neath Port Talbot Council but it may not necessarily be myself. However, we don’t want to miss out on the opportunity so will in the first instance put my name forward.
thank you

comments user
Lee Powell

I am a team leader within Blaenau Gwent’s Performance Team and I line manage the person who supports schools with their SIMS systems, Daniel Seymour. As a team we were involved in the negotiations with ESS in the run up to them taking over from Capita, and we are also the main point of contact for Capita as we manage the Capita ONE system.

comments user
Catrin Edwards

In RCT every school uses SIMS and overnight attendance, exclusion, any student details changes are extracted and imported into CAPITA One.

Across RCT over 30 services use Capita One e.g. admissions, transport and Access and Inclusion, hence the integration between SIMS and Capita One is crucial for the operational and strategic monitoring and decision making for the Local Authority.

Any consideration for any system changes requires an in-depth evaluation of risk in order to maintain these crucial operational systems.

I would be keen to be part of any forum that is involved in a ‘ discovery session’.

comments user
Sam Hall

Thank you for your comment and offer of involvement in this really important project. All details will be collected and passed to the Project Team, your input and knowledge will be invaluable.


comments user
Sara Herbert

As the MIS Manager for the Vale of Glamorgan, I would also like to be involved in this discovery project.

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