Building a Best-in-Class School Software Ecosystem

Schools globally have needed to demonstrate unprecedented agility in 2020. For many, the impacts of COVID-19 highlighted that the systems and software they use to run their school is, in many ways, holding them back.

School shutdowns and a move to remote learning drove a dramatic change to the education operating model. With schools forced to reinvent the way they operate, the value of a best-in-class, cloud-based school management platform has never been more evident.

By investing in the right systems, software and infrastructure, savvy schools can build a strong foundation for the future. So, what does a best-in-class school software ecosystem look like?

It should be flexible, intuitive, and support the seamless integration of all aspects of school management. From student information to financial management, learning delivery, communication, data security and more, a quality solution will enhance the education experience for schools, students and families.

The Foundation: Student management
Student management is the foundation on which schools are built. A platform that enables seamless oversight and management of the entire student lifecycle supports schools to ‘get the basics right’ by allowing them to store and control essential student information via one core system of truth.

Platforms like PCSchool enable schools to capture and store attendance, assessment, medical and wellbeing information, family relationship insights and communication preferences, and keep this information up to date throughout a student’s enrolment and beyond. Regardless of how many systems a school uses to operate, having a secure and trusted repository that offers seamless integration will eliminate manual data entry, reduce rework and eradicate version control issues.

Pillar 1: Learning management
With teachers needing to plan, create, distribute and deliver learning while both they and their students were at home during 2020, schools with a high-quality learning management system were at a distinct advantage during the pandemic.

Managing hundreds of virtual classrooms, delivering content and performing assessment online was a new and unexpected challenge for most schools. Those without effective learning management systems found themselves recording and managing critical operational information like attendance and video call links manually using Excel spreadsheets or similar, which was both time-consuming and error-prone.

Pillar 2: Operations
Schools that had digitised their administration tasks and operated using cloud-based software were able to make a far smoother transition to remote working. With staff, families and students comfortable using an existing school management platform for communication, payment, attendance, assessment and more, business managers and their teams were able to work in a somewhat business-as-usual manner, allowing the school leadership team to focus on supporting teachers with learning delivery.

Multi-channel communication platforms like PCSchool supported schools to keep their communities connected during a challenging time. With no way to distribute or collect paper-based forms on campus, offering a digital alternative to day-to-day administrative tasks became less of a ‘nice to have’ and more of a necessity during the pandemic.

Pillar 3: Financial and Asset Management
Best-practice financial management software supports schools to elevate their approach to aspects including tuition, budgeting, debtor and creditor management, facilities management, financial reporting and analysis, and more. Solutions like PCSchool offer advanced integration with leading accounting software offerings, making double-entry a thing of the past. Billing and budgeting are simplified, while a real-time view of a school’s financial position supports informed decision making.

With COVID-19 driving a renewed focus on hygiene, contactless payments are becoming the preferred payment method for both schools and families. Solutions like PCSchool support schools to go cashless across all aspects of their operations – from managing ad hoc payments via the school office to sales at the canteen and uniform shop.

Pillar 4: School-specific modules
Each school takes a unique approach to manage aspects like its library program, uniform and tuck shops. A best-in-class school management platform lets schools integrate the extras they need so that everything is managed centrally.

PCSchool’s specialist modules allow schools to accept online and in-person payments, manage shared resources using a real-time online booking system, and provide GPS tracking of bus location and arrival times. By selecting the modules that reflect their ways of working, schools can offer a seamless and flexible whole-of-school experience that’s customised to their needs.

Wrap up: Bringing it all together
Whether they thrived or just survived in 2020, the importance of the systems and software schools use to operate was certainly driven home. Many who had planned to transition to a digitally-driven approach in years to come are now making it a top priority.

While 2020 was a year of interrupted learning for schools across the globe, the benefits of a best-in-class school management platform go far beyond learning delivery. By investing in the right systems, software and infrastructure, savvy schools can simplify school management, operate more efficiently, and spend more time on the things that matter – wherever they’re working from.