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Thinking of exploring an alternative MIS?

If you’re considering an alternative MIS solution, our expert team can provide impartial advice on the best solution for your school. School ICT are accredited, independent, MIS support providers for Arbor, Bromcom, ScholarPack and SIMS and can help guide you through the whole migration process, along with providing ongoing support.

To find out more, you can access our webinar on moving MIS using the link below, there is also a sheet to assist with assessing functionality and cost: –

If you have any questions or if you would like to arrange a meeting to discuss this further, please do not hesitate to contact us on 0345 2226802, e-mail: or contact us via our portal

5 Benefits of switching to a Cloud based system

Please click HERE for our recent blog post on the benefits of moving to a cloud based MIS.

Helpdesk Tickets in Spam or Junk Inbox

We have been made aware by some of our lovely customers that our ticket replies can sometimes get a little lost on their way back to you, and often find their way to your Spam or Junk email boxes, or even in some instances, are blocked by the school network altogether.

If you feel you haven’t had a reply from us, please could we ask you to check your Spam or Junk email folders or give our MIS Team a call who will be able to investigate further for you.

Looking to upskill? Take a look at our Distance Learning courses

Distance Learning Courses – Did you know that we now have 34 published courses (and more in the pipeline) on our Distance Learning offering, ?

These courses are the same content as the ‘live’ courses, but are broken down into short videos, so you can work through the course at your own pace (which might be particularly useful for schools who are struggling to release staff for training). In addition, you will have access to the course content for 12 months from the date of purchase, so if there’s a part that you don’t do very often, or can’t quite remember, you can log back in and watch the video again if it is within this time frame.

If you are not sure about Distance Learning and whether it would suit you, why not give it a try with our free SIMS Housekeeping course, available here:

The SIMS courses cover pretty much every aspect of SIMS, including FMS, and we are adding to our Arbor courses too. The prices shown on screen are inclusive of VAT.

Key 2023 Exam Dates

REMINDER: Key Dates for Examinations, please see the JCQ (Joint Council for Qualifications) Key Dates for 2022_2023

New Pupil Premium Rates for 2023-24

The pupil premium rates for the 2023 to 2024 financial year, starting on 1 April 2023 are:
Pupil eligibility criteria Amount of funding for each primary-aged pupil per year Amount of funding for each secondary-aged pupil per year Funding is paid to
Pupils who are eligible for free school meals, or have been eligible in the past 6 years (including eligible children of families with no recourse to public funds) £1,455 £1,035 School
Pupils who have been adopted from care or have left care £2,530 £2,530 School
Children who are looked after by the local authority £2,530 £2,530 Local authority
From 1 April 2023, pupil premium eligibility for pupils who have been adopted from care or have left care will include children adopted from outside of England and Wales.

Service Pupil Premium

The Service Pupil Premium for 2023-24 will be £335 per eligible pupil if they meet one or more of the relevant criteria.

More info on all aspects of Pupil Premium can be found here: Pupil premium: overview – GOV.UK (

Teacher Strike Dates - What to do in your MIS

Teacher strike days and what to do in your MIS (Management Information System)

How to record Exceptional Circumstances/Whole School Closure/Unexpected School Closure for attendance – specific guidance, relating to each MIS, can be found in the appropriate MIS section within this newsletter, please see the relevant section below.

For general details on managing strikes in schools, please see the DfE’s guidance here: Handling strike action in schools

For staff who are striking, the absence is logged as an unpaid, unauthorised absence.

School Workforce Census 2022 – IMPORTANT information from the DfE

November School Workforce Census 2022 – The collection closed on 27th January but if you require any assistance, please contact the data collections Service Desk at the earliest possible opportunity here.

The School Workforce Census will close on 27 January. If you are finding it difficult to provide all of your data by this date, please let the data collections Service Desk know urgently and we will support you as much as possible.

Please check that:

  • Your return(s) status in COLLECT is approved or authorised. If you have made any amendments to your data and the current status is ‘Loaded and Validated’ or ‘Amended by Source’ you must press submit.
  • Please ensure you have checked your errors by clicking on the ‘all errors’ button. If you have any errors or queries remaining that are correct these must be covered by return level notes
  • If you have used matching and reconciliation to merge multiple files in COLLECT, please ensure that the process has been completed and your return(s) show only one source (open return, click on ‘view all’ hyperlink).
  • Please check the credibility of the data loaded by running the reports provided
  • If you need a copy of the data you have loaded, please use the export facility.

Contact details for data collections service desk

If you have any queries or issues, please contact the data collections Service Desk at the earliest possible opportunity here.

Guidance from the DfE regarding attendance code X

Termly attendance code X

There appears to be some confusion around the use of this code. It should be used for pupils of non-compulsory school age only who are not required to attend school. If a pupil has been held back in reception but are of compulsory school age, then code X should not be used for any sessions not attended. Please use an alternative appropriate absence code for sessions where it has been agreed that the pupil is not required to attend.

This code should also no longer be used for covid related absences. Where a pupil is absent due to covid, then code I should be used. If a pupil is absent because they are self-isolating then code C should be used.


Recent ESS Communication to Schools

We are aware that ESS have now released their new customer portal that all SIMS customers need to log into, to complete their contract data prior to 28th February. School ICT has already been asked by a number of our customers for support in completing this portal information as, at first glance, the options can look confusing.

If you would like any help or advice in completing the information then our colleagues will be happy to join a Microsoft Teams session or remote access session with you to guide you through the process and to answer any questions that you may have. Please contact us on 0345 2226802 (option 1) or email to arrange a session or for any general advice.

FMS Payment Remittances not working

Some schools who send their Payment Remittances out via emails may have noticed that they are not sending at the moment. This was due to some work that Microsoft did, and ‘FMS Autumn 2022 Workstation Patch 1’ is available to resolve the issue. Please get in touch with us if you need this.

FMS - Financial Year End/New Financial Year

This is the time of year to start preparing for the financial year end, and to be creating and opening your new financial year!
If you have not already done so, you can open your new financial year (2023/24) via Tools | Define Financial Years | Define/Edit years.

Issues affecting FMS Petty Cash

Issues affecting FMS Petty Cash transaction listing report – FMS Autumn Release 6.208

ESS have identified an issue affecting FMS for those schools who have applied the FMS Autumn upgrade 6.208.


User has added expenditure to their Petty Cash and when they click on the print record to print the Petty Cash Transaction Listing report the expenditure is not showing. This has occurred following the FMS Autumn release 6.208 and does not affect Petty Cash Transactions that had been entered before the upgrade.


FMS patch 27809 has been authorised to all FMS users and should be available in SOLUS now. You may need to click “Check for Updates” to view the patch. The patch needs to be deployed to all FMS databases currently in use.

If School ICT look after your upgrades, please open a support ticket so we can arrange a convenient time to schedule patch deployment.

Personal Pronouns in SIMS

This functionality is available via Tools|Setups|Pronoun setup and can be accessed by those with School Administrator and System Manger permissions.

Personal Pronouns can be chosen by pupils/students, applicants, contacts, staff and agents. Once applied to an individual in SIMS, a suffix of their specified personal pronoun is displayed in bold text at the top of their record. This is now available in various areas of SIMS to incorporate this functionality. For example, Attendance letters and Individual Reports: there is the option to insert Personal Pronoun(s) as an additional merge field. Please be aware Personal Pronouns are NOT collected in any statutory returns at present, there is no requirement to report this information to the DfE.

How to add an Exceptional Circumstance – for Strike or Snow day

  1. Focus / Attendance (or Lesson Monitor) / Exceptional Circumstances
  2. Click the ‘New’ button
  3. Enter the dates e.g., from 01/02/2023 AM to 01/02/2023 PM
  4. By default, the Group Type is displayed as Whole School. If a different group is required, select this from the drop-down list and then click on ‘Search’ to refresh the display.
  5. Select the required Attendance code from the drop-down e.g., Y code
  6. Enter the reason in the Description field e.g., School is closed due strike action
  7. Highlight the pupils/students such as Whole School
  8. Click the Apply button

Recording staff absences

You’ll need to record if any staff are absent from your school on strike days for the Workforce Census.

First, decide how to record the staff absences. The DfE advises using the Absence category of Unauthorised absence in the teachers personnel records.

SIMS Technical Roadmap

The latest version of the SIMS Technical Roadmap can be found on our Customer Portal here:

This features the latest updates on versions of Servers, Windows and specs required for SIMS to run smoothly.


New and Improved!

  • Changes to Timetable Cycles are now only possible between 2pm and 5pm each day.
  • Arbor have updated your To Do list on My Homepage to only flag the most important potential login issues – duplicate emails for current or future staff. They have also improved the duplicates page by splitting out your report to show staff, guardian and student issues separately, so you can prioritise what to resolve first. Take a look at our updated guidance here: Duplicate email addresses
  • Once your users get logged in, you can use our new Login History page to view when they have logged in, plus whether they have logged in using Single sign-on (SSO) and Two-factor authentication.
  • If you use Google or Microsoft Single Sign-on (SSO), you can also enable our new Bypass two-factor authentication option to only require Arbor Two-factor authentication when using the Arbor Username and Password, but not when logging in with Single sign-on (SSO).


  • Create new SMS and email templates to notify guardians about behaviour incidents or detentions. Add detail with Arbor’s built-in merge fields or set different messages for different severity levels.
  • Detention information on the parent portal now has room numbers.
  • Year Group and Registration Form have now been added to the list of unassigned detentions.

Behaviour Workflows

Did you know that by using Behaviour workflows in Arbor you can set to incidents to escalate to the next severity level automatically by setting a threshold? This will escalate if more than one of your chosen number of incidents is logged within a 7/14/month or termly period. See this article here for more information. Setting up Behavior Workflows

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Getting around Arbor

  • Now when going to Students > Demographics > Derived Indicators, you will see a handy list rather than more pages to select. Click on an indicator type, then select your demographic in the filters. You can also filter by student group, or switch to view the inverse of the demographic.
  • Instead of different options for logging behaviour points for each scale in menus and Quick Actions, you can now log or report on points from one place – just use the filters to select your Point award scale. Please note: Any Live Feeds from these pages will need to be set up again.

What else is new?

  • We will use your schools short name when sending emails from the MAT MIS. Your schools can set this from the School > School Details page.
  • See Behaviour Incidents that take place on certain dates on the Behavioural Incidents Dashboard.
  • Jump to the main Behaviour Incident from the Student Involvement overview using the View Behavioural Incident button.
  • Charts, such as the horizontal bar charts on MAT MIS, are now keyboard controllable.

How to add a Whole School Closure – This method can only be done on the day of the strike or snow day

1.      Students / Attendance / Bulk Edit Marks Standard

2.      Use the filters to select the students, ensure start, and end dates are correct

3.      Click the Bulk Action button and select Bulk Set Absent

4.      In the slide over select the attendance mark for a strike day e.g., Y

5.      Click on Bulk Set Marks

6.      You will receive a notification in the top right of your MIS when the change has been completed. It can take some time to load depending on the number of students selected.

More detailed guidance can be found on our newsfeed here on managing staff, clubs and trips etc.

Managing the February-March 2023 strikes in Arbor

The NEU has announced upcoming strike action taking place on 7 days across February and March 2023.

Action will take place on the following days, meaning each school will be affected on a maximum of four dates:

·        1 February: All schools in England and Wales

·        14 February: All schools in Wales

·        28 February: North and north-west England, Yorkshire and Humber

·        1 March: East Midlands, West Midlands, and the NEU’s eastern region

·        2 March: South-east and south-west England, and London

·        15 March: All schools in England and Wales

·        16 March: All schools in England and Wales

For general details on managing strikes in schools, please see the DfE’s guidance here: Handling strike action in schools

Arbor’s parent company The Key Group have also created a free resource to help you navigate the impact of the strikes – you can find it on their website here: Industrial action FAQs

Managing staff

Recording staff absences

You’ll need to record if any staff are absent from your school on strike days for the Workforce Census.

First, decide how to record the staff absences. The DfE advises to use the Absence category of Unauthorised absence. You can either use:

·        the Unauthorised absence category

·        the Strike Absence category – this option maps back to Unauthorised absence in the Workforce census, but is useful if you want to specifically report on industrial action

Please note it is not possible to create your own Absence category.

You can see how to record staff absences here: Add a staff absence

Assigning cover

1.      Any classes that no longer have a teacher will be flagged as needing cover.

2.      Make sure you have added any cover teachers to Arbor: Creating supply teachers or cover teachers in Arbor

3.      You can then assign them to cover the classes: How to assign cover

4.      They’ll then be able to take the class – you can see how they can do this here: How a teacher can take attendance and the meal register

Managing student attendance

In this case, the recommendation from Arbor is that schools should not add a holidays into your Academic Calendar. This is because:

·        Schools may be open for some students so need to take attendance for them

·        adding a holiday marks students with the # attendance code, but the DfE advises to use the Y code

Students who are still attending

Schools may wish to set up a class for students who are still attending on strike days, rather than marking them directly in the normal register.

5.      You can identify any students who will still be attending (such as those who are Vulnerable or children of Key Workers).

6.      You may wish to set up a class for students these students who are still attending on strike days, rather than marking them directly in the normal register. You can see how to create the class here – we recommend scheduling them as one-off lessons: Set up Course, Class, Registration and Lesson registers

7.      Teachers will then be able to take the class in the same way as a normal day’s lesson – you can see how they can do this here: How a teacher can take attendance and the meal register

Note: These students can be marked absent alongside the other students in their normal register, because only the Best Mark will be used as the student’s statutory attendance mark.

Taking attendance for students who won’t be attending.

For the students who wont be in attendance, you can add in a planned absence with the right pre-fill attendance code (likely the Y code) to pull through to the registers:  See our School ICTS article here on  How to add an exceptional circumstance (Y code) or Arbor’s article Adding and viewing Planned Absences and future pre-fill marks

On the day of the partial closure, you’ll need to open the registers for the planned absence marks to pull through, as this will not update marks automatically. Go to Students > Attendance, click into that class’ register and click the Open Register button to open it and pull through the marks. You can then edit any marks from the Bulk Edit Marks pages if needed.

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Other areas


Once attendance has been taken, any students who are absent will pull through as Absent on the Meal Register, but you can update any student meal choices as needed: How can I change the meal choice for students for one day?

Clubs, trips and wraparound care

If you didn’t add a closure into your academic calendar, your clubs, trips and wraparound care events that take place on that day won’t be removed. You’ll just need to make any refunds or cancellations for sessions that are no longer taking place by following these instructions:


Managing your duplicate student contacts for the Parents App and general student records

You can merge your duplicate student contacts at Admin > Config > Manage Duplicate Contacts. You will need the full Admin user role for this area.

Sp 1Here you will see all the duplicate records you have for each contact as they are grouped by name. Siblings need to be linked to the same contact details rather than a separate contact record set up for each one.

Sp 2

Linking siblings to the same contact ID enables your records to be kept in good order (e.g., only one record needs updating with new mobile or email numbers, instead of updating each contact record). This is also a requirement for the Parents App, so that one contact ID will display each child’s information on the app and only one Parents App code required per contact. If a Parent using the App can only see one of their children, it often means you have duplicate contact IDs for them, and you need to check in the Manage Duplicate Contacts area in ScholarPack. By merging the contacts, they will see all their children in the App.

To merge contact data, click on the one Contact ID you wish to keep, then click Merge so that additional contacts with the same data get merged into one record. If this contact is a Contact 3 and different relationship on another student profile, it will merge but still keep the contact relationship and order. The old contact ID on that profile is then removed and a new merged one established.

If you have contacts with the same name, but different addresses and contact details (i.e., they are different people and not connected), you can click on Exclude from Merge, prior to selecting the one you wish to combine others to and then clicking on Merge.


How to record an unexpected School closure

  1. Go to Modules/Attendance/Manage Attendance
  2. Select Specific Date and Whole School (or Group if you wish to do it by year group)
  3. In Mark Type, select Code but leave box blank then click on Apply
  4. In the table below, click on the column heading AM and type the mark Y (for exceptional circumstances)
  5. Repeat for all other columns, then Save

Arbor, SIMS and Distance Learning MIS Training Courses

Training courses for the full 2022/2023 academic year are now live!

We have a comprehensive schedule of online ‘live’ training courses where you are trained in a live online environment, along with Distance Learning courses, where you study a pre-recorded course at your own pace, to help you develop your knowledge and skills and to help ensure you are getting the most out of your MIS (Management Information System).

Booking is now open. For the full online training schedule and to book live training visit:

For Distance Learning courses please visit:


School Genies - Data Genie

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Data Genie – Virtual Data Managers (VDM).

When maintaining your schools data is not possible, our Virtual Data Genie team enables you to maintain, enhance or completely outsource your schools data management, ensuring best practice and continuity of your schools data, at all times. Whether it be a one off to support with a particular time of year such as census or exams, for a short to medium term period like maternity or sickness cover, or if you’re perhaps struggling to recruit – to fully outsource your schools Data Management, we can provide a solution.

“School ICTs Virtual Data Manager service has provided our school with high-quality day-to-day management of core school student data, support to staff and data analysis.

They have seamlessly completed our School census but have ensured that school admin staff understand their role in the maintenance of student data.

The SLT, teaching and support staff are so impressed with the service being delivered and the advanced level of knowledge and expertise that it brings.

Nothing is too much trouble and our VDM has sorted out many of the issues that we had in our MIS that no one else could previously resolve!

The knowledge that the VDM has of our MIS and all its functionality is seriously impressive along with their knowledge of DFE/ESFA rules, regulations and policy changes.

It is like having a Data Manager in the office next door but just online, they respond promptly to emails, request for reports/data and are happy to arrange phone calls or Teams meetings as required.

I can highly recommend the service – give it a try!

Rachel Mowbray – King Edward VI Grammar School, Louth.

For further information on this new service from School ICT, please visit: Data Genie or call: 0345 222 6802 – option 3 or e-mail:

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Census, Exams, End of Year… could you do with an extra pair of hands at key times of the academic year?

Working alongside School ICT, School ICT Resourcing place both permanent and temporary specialist support staff into schools.

Candidates are available from a days placement through to a whole school year. All candidates have completed the safer school recruitment process, and have enhanced DBS clearance.

For further information please call: 0113 372 0039 or visit:

Due to retire? If yourself or any colleagues are retiring soon, and 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.

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