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Autumn is always an exceptionally busy term and we would like to thank you for your continued support and custom.

This term we said farewell to some of our team; Sarah Horton – MIS Consultant, Kay Vickers – MIS Consultant and Fraser Croft – MIS Technician have all moved onto pastures new and we wish them every success in their new roles. 

However, we are delighted to announce that we have four new team members joining the School ICT team over the coming weeks: –

Ann Turner – MIS Consultant, joins us in December and Jason Bromilow – MIS Consultant, Ruth Rogers – MIS Support Officer and Zeeshan Zafar – IT Technician, will be joining us in January.

Service Update

We will be holding our bi-annual company meeting on the morning of Wednesday the 11th December.

Calls can still be logged via e-mailing: and via the customer portal.

SIMS Upgrade Autumn Release

We warned customers earlier this month via e-mail about an issue in the Autumn Upgrade that affected a printing routine in Attendance. The issue generates the following error: –

“Error – Unable to load or process layout file. It must be a valid XSL file.” 

Capita have now released the following workstation fix for the issue: –

SIMS Autumn 2019 – Consolidated workstation patch 2 – error printing from take register screen

Now this fix is available we will start the process to roll out the Autumn upgrade to primary schools. This fix needs to be applied after the Autumn release of SIMS. As the fix contains both a database patch and a workstation patch, this must be applied out of hours.

For secondary schools we have now released this fix via solus3.

For primary schools where SICTS are responsible for the upgrade, if you require the Autumn release on a specific date or day of the week please let us know ASAP otherwise we will roll out, taking a phased approach, over the coming weeks.

Summary of new features included in Autumn release:


Additional Attendance Setup Options

Tools | Setups | Attendance Setup | Module Setup

When selecting Defaults for Specific Routines for Student Identification Columns, the following new options are available:

  • Include Middle Name – middle name is included in the Name column in Attendance/Lesson Monitor grids where pupil/student names are listed
  • Active User Defined Fields – one option only can be selected from a list of all active pupil/student/applicant user defined fields. The selected option is then displayed as an identification column in Attendance/Lesson Monitor grids where pupil/student names are listed. The following new options are available when selecting the required defaults for pupil/student:

Display of Names:

  • Show Forename before Surname
  • Include Middle Name

The following new options are available when selecting the required defaults for Order of names in registration group list:

  • Order names by Preferred Surname
  • Order names by Legal Surname
  • Order names by Preferred Forename
  • Order names by Legal Forename


Exporting Blocks of Classes from Options Online

Focus | Options Online

It is now possible to export the blocks of classes that have been constructed in Options Online to Nova-T. This enables the timetabler to proceed with staffing and scheduling blocks before the Options process is complete.

For more information, please refer to the Options Online User Guide.


Enhancements to the Modify Pupil/Student Address Routine

Focus | Pupil (or Student) | Pupil (or Student) Details

The Additional persons at this address table has been removed from the Addresses panel on the pupil/student record. Any parents, applicants, staff or other contacts who share the same address as the pupil/student are now displayed in the Linked People dialog, which is accessed via the Modify Address button.


There are fixes in Cover, Nova, Profiles and Exams Organiser. For further information please see the upgrade notes which can be found in the documentation centre in SIMS

School Census

School Census Spring 2020 Key Dates

Routines | Statutory Return | School Census

Census day 16/01/2020

  • Attendance collected from the start of the Autumn term to 31/12/2019
  • Exclusions collected from 01/09/2019 to 31/12/2019
  • Free School Meal Eligibility collected from 04/10/2019 to 16/01/2020
  • Learner Support collected from 01/08/2019 to 16/01/2020

New Data Items The following data items are being collected for the first time:

Not applicable to Nursery schools

  • Permanent exclusion review date
  • Permanent exclusion review result
  • Permanent exclusion reinstatement date
  • Permanent exclusion review SEN expert. Applicable to Primary and All-Through schools only
  • Teachers on planning and preparation time (PPA)
  • Reason for class size exception
  • Number of pupils to which the class size exception reason applies

Planning, Preparation and Assessment Teachers

Applicable to Primary and All-Through schools only

The new PPA Teachers column in the Classes panel enables the recording of the number of teachers on planning, preparation and assessment time at the ‘selected time’ on census day. This information is required for infant class (Reception or Key Stage 1) only.

Information regarding PPA teachers is also available in the Class report.

Class Size Exceptions

Applicable to Primary and All-Through schools only

The Classes panel now enables the recording of the reason(s) for exceptional class sizes. An indication as to the Number of classes with unexplained excess is displayed at the top of the panel. The new Class Size Exceptions button is activated only when an exceptional class size is highlighted. Clicking the Class Size Exceptions button displays the new Class Size Exceptions dialog, where the exception details can be recorded.

Class size exceptions definition: the total number of children per teacher in a Reception or Key Stage 1 class must be less than 31.

  • Children = on-roll plus guest pupils
  • Teachers = teachers plus PPA teachers

Information regarding class size exception reasons is also available in the Class report.

Changes to Detail Reports

Applicable to Primary and All-Through schools only

The Class report now displays the PPA Teachers and Class Size Exception Reasons columns. A key to class size exception reasons is also included in the report.

Not applicable to Nursery schools

The Exclusions report has been updated to include the Exclusion Reviews table, which provides final governor review outcome information about permanent and fixed exclusions.

The Leavers Basic Details report now displays the new Report Criteria for exclusions and the report displays the applicable data.

Create & Validate Routine

When creating and validating the return, a message is displayed if there are permanent exclusions during the collection period without a corresponding final governor review result.

The message advises the user to check whether the permanent exclusions are ongoing and allows them to cancel or continue with the process.

We will be sending out further information nearer the time.

Additional SIMS Modules

As the take up of Parent Lite (free) is increasing we would like to highlight the extended purchasable SIMS compatible products. These products are suggested as a replacement for SIMS Learning Gateway which has been discontinued.

For more information on these products please see the link to Capita below:

Upcoming Events - Save the Date!

Register to attend the following 2020 events

Best Practice in SIMS – Essex; Tuesday 28th January
Annual conference – Leeds; March 2020


Best Practice in SIMS seminar slides

Following the successful Best Practice Events recently held in Wiltshire, Cheadle and Harrow, all presentations from the events can be accessed in the Knowledge Base area of the School ICT customer portal: –

For anyone without customer portal access please e-mail:

School ICT Resourcing

Did you know we can help with your recruitment and employment needs?

We can provide schools with the following staff on temporary and permanent contracts or help with finding you suitable employment:
  • School Administrators
  • Receptionists
  • Bursars
  • Business Managers
  • Data / SIMS Administrators / Managers
  • Exams Officers
  • ICT Technical Staff

Visit: or call Holly on 0345 222 6802 – option 5 for further information


Click on the following links to view all our upcoming SIMS training courses or to book your place: –

Reminder: When booking training, please remember to include your mobile number so we can contact you if courses are cancelled at short notice due to weather conditions etc.

Capita SIMS Tools for Parental Engagement – Free Webinar

Capita are providing an offer of up to 30% off their parental engagement solutions if purchased before 31st December 2019. The portfolio of SIMS Pay, SIMS InTouch and SIMS Parent provide an all-in-one seamless engagement solution allowing schools to better communicate and collaborate with parents giving them a clear view of their children’s life in school.

Exclusively and in partnership with School ICT, Lindsay Butterworth from Capita will be delivering a webinar on Monday 2nd December at 10am demonstrating the three engagement solutions, for which you can find further information in the links below.

To join the webinar please use the following weblink:

School ICT-simspay

School ICT-pebrochure

Parental Engagement – SICTS

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