Wynberg Boys' School: Using SIMS to better understand and support students

Established in 1841, Wynberg Boys’ High School in Cape Town, South Africa might have a long-standing history, but its sights are firmly set on the future. When it became clear that the old school management information system was slowing down the very processes it was supposed to make more efficient, Ben Thompson, Vice Principal: Academics, and his team investigated more than ten different alternatives.

In due course, they went to their governing body with the confidence that there was only one system that would truly help them better understand their boys. The school is now the first in South Africa to use the Capita SIMS suite of products and has worked in close partnership with EDU365 to successfully implement the solution.

When the school undertook due diligence for upgrading its system, one thing stood out above all else about SIMS. “The capability to push information out was astounding. It means that if you make a change in one place – such as a teacher giving a merit or demerit electronically in their class – anyone who has authorisation to monitor this will be automatically notified live, in real-time. This is a complete game-changer in how we share information about the boys on a daily basis.

“Teachers can now see straight away if a pupil’s behaviour or approach to school is changing, for example, so issues can be picked up sooner. We have eight House Heads too, whose primary roles are to manage the wellbeing of our students. Their dashboards are now set up to have merits, marks and behaviour notes pushed to them for their students, meaning they have expedient information to hand.

“Staff very quickly know what every boy is up to, and can comment on it. For example, I can walk down a corridor and say to a boy, ‘I see you just had a bad history lesson, everything alright?’ or ‘Great improvement on your maths exam, up 22% from last term!’ This is really powerful and helps our staff do what we believe is the most important thing at our school – to build relationships with our boys and to show them that we are interested in their lives.”

“Our key driver was to put information into the hands of those who need it to better understand our boys, and we are already achieving this. The look on a student’s face when we praise them for a piece of work or offer encouragement after a difficult lesson says it all – their jaws often hit the ground. They are much more likely to open up and engage with us now.

“At the moment, we’re only scratching the surface of what SIMS can help us do – we’ve bought a space shuttle and we’re using it to drive to the supermarket and back. We are looking forward to rolling out some of the other tools available over the next academic year to further enhance the quality of teaching and support that we provide across the school.

“We also plan to use Capita’s Micro Librarian Systems from next term, which will enable us to issue state-supplied textbooks to our pupils more efficiently.”