Software solutions for the future

Dean Dickinson, Managing Director, Advanced Business Solutions, looks at the issues of working across the education spectrum

What types of organisation do you support?

We support primaries, secondary schools and academies through to further and higher education institutions. We also work with local authorities such as Telford and Wrekin, Birmingham and Derbyshire in addition to independent education centres. We have a dedicated academies and free schools team that has developed strong and expanding partnerships with leading groups such as ARK Schools, Harris Federation and Oasis Community Learning.

Our clients include Westminster University, The University of Edinburgh, London Southbank University and Leeds Metropolitan University. Overall we work with more than 2,000 educational institutions globally.

Advanced recently acquired further education software provider, Compass Computer Consultants – what does this mean for schools, colleges and universities?

Compass will complement existing education software solutions for local authorities, schools, academies and higher and further education providers.

Clients will benefit from sustained investment in product development and access to Advanced’s managed services facilities which can help organisations reduce IT spend and improve operations by migrating infrastructure and systems to the cloud.

Compass’ most popular products include ProAchieve a success, retention and achievement analysis system used by more than 80% of UK colleges; ProSolution, a student management information system and ProMonitor, a popular student monitoring and support system used by more than 150 colleges.

Which of your products are currently generating the most interest?

Schools and academies are under constant pressure to demonstrate that they are achieving learner progress and as such, increasing numbers are implementing Progresso, our innovative management information system (MIS). Progresso enables head teachers, teachers, parents and support staff, to securely access student information including assessment and progression data and behaviour reports via an easy to use web-based interface.

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The system provides instant access to intelligence by offering a highly visual picture of what is happening across the whole school, as well as across the entire cluster, group, or federation.

Can you provide an example of Progresso in action?

The Isle of Portland Aldridge Community Academy (IPACA) is one of the UK’s first all-through academies. The formation of the academy in 2012 brought together several primary schools and a secondary school, across various sites.

To provide teachers, students and parents with easy access to centralised learning, assessment and attendance information, IPAC chose Progresso. The system provides visibility of each student’s progress and shows how the academy is supporting them.

Progresso is a fully managed cloud-based system and this means IPACA were able to avoid the costs and work involved in setting up their own server infrastructure – a major benefit.

Are you seeing many educational institutions adopting Software as a Service?

Very much so – and for good reasons. By partnering with a specialist like Advanced to provide Software as a Service (SaaS), an organisation will reduce the work and expense involved in maintaining its own infrastructure. This allows its IT personnel to concentrate on strategic development and supporting teaching staff and students. Many of our customers are under pressure to improve services while simultaneously cutting costs. By adopting a software as a service model, schools and colleges can achieve this balance and in a relatively short period of time.

What are your plans for the future?

To continue to provide cutting edge technologies that support learning and help education centres streamline administration and reduce costs. Technology is transforming education in so many ways, such as enabling teachers and pupils to collaborate online and we will continue to develop products that support this evolution.

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