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School Census - Reminder

Just a reminder that the DfE deadline for submitting the return to COLLECT is Wednesday the 16th February.

Please do double check with your Local Authority though in-case you have an earlier date for submission.

SIMS FMS Module - Important information for users of the SIMS FMS Module re. submitting VAT returns direct to HMRC from April 2022

Did you know that the HMRC are making changes to how businesses and organisations submit their VAT returns?

Historically, an organisation with an annual taxable turnover above £85,000 had to submit their VAT returns via electronic methods. 

From April 2022, all VAT registered businesses, regardless of taxable turnover, will be required to follow Making Tax Digital (MTD) rules. 

In the Spring of 2020 and 2021, School ICT liaised with those organisations that were affected by HMRC changes and made the transition to MTD and the required changes to the FMS Package. 

Existing FMS MTD Phase 2 users will not be affected. 

Are you affected? 

You will need to make the transition to Making Tax Digital (MTD) if: 

  • You are VAT registered, but currently under the taxable threshold of £85,000
  • You manually input your VAT return figures via an HMRC portal
  • You have received a letter direct from HMRC stating that you must transition to MTD

If your Organisation is affected, certain changes to the FMS system and FMS MTD Hub access will need to be implemented prior to April 2022. 

You will not be affected if: 

  • You do not complete VAT returns via FMS 
  • Not VAT registered 
  • You are currently using FMS MTD Phase 2 
  • You are an LA maintained school and send VAT reports from FMS but direct to your LA for them to process

Please see the link below for more guidance 

If you have any queries or think you may be affected by these changes, please log a support call by email to 

Any specific VAT related queries should be clarified with your Accounting Team or School finance team. 

SIMS New Features and Latest Updates for Spring 2022 Release

ESS are constantly updating the software and there are several new features coming in the Spring Release – a few examples below are: –

School report – Reports/School Report

ESS have completed a piece of work in the Spring 2022 release to introduce two new parameters on the runtime setup of the school report. These new parameters are:

  • Date of Birth From
  • Date of Birth To

This will allow users to refine the cohort of pupils to those born within and including the dates provided on the setup i.e., statutory age. These are optional and choosing to leave them blank will run the report as it always has. Likewise, users can also use 1 of the parameters to refine the list to pupils only born after or before a certain date.

Student List

1) Introduced 2 new parameters on the runtime setup of the school report. These new parameters are:

  • Date of Birth From
  • Date of Birth To

This will allow users to refine the cohort of pupils to those born within and including the dates provided on the setup i.e., statutory age. These are optional and choosing to leave them blank will run the report as it always has. Likewise, users can also use one of the parameters to refine the list to pupils only born after or before a certain date.

Sims new features and latest updates for spring 2022 release 1

2) Splitting Contact Information into Separate Fields

In general Student List/Standard/Family and home the contact information will now be split into separate columns for Name. Address, phone and email


It will be possible to select whether to import contact details when importing ATF file into SIMS admissions area.

To view how the functionality of these updates please see the following link to the videos: –

Arbor New Features and Latest Updates


You can now view your different grade sets for an assessment next to the mark entry column. Enable this for all assessments from your Marksheet Settings (Students > Assessments > Assessment Framework > Marksheet Settings) or choose to show them using the filters at the top of the marksheet.

Arbor new features and latest updates

Hover over the mark to see the statistical value behind a baseline, grade or target and find out why a student is not on target.

Sharing Report Cards

You can now share report cards with students, not just guardians. Email in bulk, or individually by selecting the students and using the bulk actions in the Report Cards tab.

Arbor have split out sharing report cards into their own buttons – click Share Report Cards to share on the Parent or Student Portal, or one of the Email buttons to send to parents or students via email.

Arbor new features and latest updates 2

Use the new From drop-down box to select who to send the Report Card from (providing you are a Permitted Sender) rather than having to send from yourself.

If you need to edit the email message sent to students, go to School > Communications > Templates, to create/edit the email template, in the same way as you can edit for guardian emails.

Arbor new features and latest updates 3

User Defined Fields

Arbor have introduced the ability to set permissions on a UDF-by-UDF basis, meaning you can decide which staff can view and edit them.

Go to System > User Defined Fields, from the Dashboard, click on the existing UDF and choose Edit. Select what area the UDF relates to (in the Data regarding field) and see the permissions needed to view and edit the UDF.

Arbor new features and latest updates 4

What else is new?

Pastoral Notes on Lesson Dashboard

Arbor have renamed the Pastoral notes column on the lesson dashboard to reflect what it actually shows – pinned pastoral, safeguarding, SEN and behavioural notes.

Behaviour Incident Events

Choose to display the event a behaviour incident took place in, and who recorded the incident on the Parent Portal and Arbor App. You can switch this on from Students > Parents & Guardians > Parent Portal Settings, click on the arrow to open the slideover and change the settings, then Save Changes.

Arbor new features and latest updates 5Arbor new features and latest updates 6

Custom Report Writer

Use the new Course Name (bottom level by subject) field in the Custom Report Writer to see what bottom level course a student is enrolled in for a given subject. Like the Enrolment > Courses > Memberships page, but by subject rather than course, so you can see all groups for Science, for example.

Report Cards

Students > Report Cards

Choose which grades are shown to parents in Report Cards. Click the summative assessment from Attainment tab to select the Display grade set to use. Do not change this to just show the default marking grade set used in marksheets.

Choose to colour-code Curriculum assessment marks from the General tab of Report Cards. For example, if curriculum mastery is below 20%, it will show red unless you switch this setting off. See a full breakdown by hovering over the question mark.

Arbor new features and latest updates 7

Upcoming Training - Limited places available!

We have several SIMS Training courses available over the coming term: –

  • Extended Reporting – 10th February, full day
  • FMS Year End – 16th February, half day
  • Curriculum Management Using Nova T – 4 days – last few places remaining
  • Lesson Monitor – 3rd March, full day
  • Secondary New Office user – 16th March, full day
  • Assessment Essential Skills – 17th March, 2 days
  • Cover – 22nd March, full day
  • Attendance Primary – 23rd March, half day
  • Analysing Assessment Data KS3 & KS4 – 24th March, 2 days

For the latest availability or to book, please visit:

!Important! - Datto Licences Expire on the 1st April

If you have a Datto licence from School ICT – from the 1st April this will not be renewed which will mean your remote access to SIMS will no longer work.

If you currently have a Datto licence with us, please get in touch so we can set up a VPN (virtual private network) for you through your ISP (internet service provider), which is a more stable and secure way, to gain remote access to SIMS. If you contact us before the 1st April this will be done free of charge as a one off service – which also means there is no annual licence fee to pay! *In the unlikely event that we’re unable to set you up with a VPN via your ISP we will endeavour to ensure you have no loss of service.

If you currently use Datto, to ensure you have no loss of remote access to SIMS – you must contact us before the 1st April by e-mail: or by calling our helpdesk on: 0345 222 6802 – option 4.

NEW! Power BI Consultancy Services from School ICT - Webinar recording now available

 Genie gif

NEW service from School ICT: Power Genie – Power BI Consultancy and Power BI Reporting Dashboards.

There’s a new Genie in our School Genies product range!

Power Genie works in Power BI and is an easy to use, powerful analysis tool, enabling you to pull data from multiple sources, to create graphs and dashboards focusing on key areas such as Pupil Premium, SEN, Attendance, Staff Absence and more – helping you to understand your data and gain deeper insights into your school, revolutionising the way your school or MAT use data to assist you in decision making and being Ofsted ready.

We have developed an off the shelf dashboard suite for SIMS, or we can work with you on a consultancy basis to develop bespoke dashboards for other MIS or to support your school’s specific requirements.

For more information please click here to visit the Power Genie website, call: 0345 222 6802 option 2 or e-mail:
You can also access a recording of our recent Power BI webinar through the School ICT Customer Portal:

School ICT Resourcing can fulfil all your temporary or permanent recruitment of non-teaching staff

School ICT Resourcing can source temporary or permanent non-teaching staff for your school. Whether short term or for a longer period, we can work with you to find a suitable placement.

If yourself or any colleagues are retiring soon, but would consider working on a temporary or ad-hoc basis, please contact Helen who would love the opportunity to speak with you about the potential of adding you to our candidate list.

For further information please call: 01132878020 or visit:

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