Queen’s Park High School has been an Edulink One customer for a couple of years. We interviewed Dave Helsby, Support Operations Manager in May 2020 about the school’s experience.

What problem were you trying to solve when you looked at Edulink One?

We had so many fragmented and individual systems doing different things, we wanted a single system where parents and students could login and complete most of their ‘school life’ tasks. Edulink One pulls everything together to become a one stop shop. 

We had different systems for parents’ evenings, messaging home, registers, room bookings and behaviour reporting. Edulink gives us all of that and has opened so many new ways of working.

Why did you choose Edulink One? 

I was originally looking for a solution for showing seating plans in classrooms, so that teachers could see key information such as PP, EAL, SEN and medical flags very quickly. Edulink One has the ability to show all of that information as well GCSE target information, data from FFT and currently working at grades pulled from SIMS.

Once I looked deeper on the website, I quickly realised that this tool could do everything! 

Three things stood out really when choosing to work with Overnet Data. Lucy (Overnet Data’s Head of Operations) was very passionate when she came to talk to us and had experience of working in schools. We quickly realised that with people like Lucy onboard the support that would be offered would be exceptional, and that has certainly been the case. 

Overnet Data seemed quite small at the time of signing up (it was a few years ago now) so we felt like we could grow the software with them. If there’s things we wanted to develop it felt like we could ask and those features would be developed. 

The last point, but something quite significant, was cost. Being able to remove so many other systems while making the overall communication home to parents/students better/easier actually saved us a significant amount of money. 

Obviously, there was an app too, which made everything seem really funky and easy to use back then! It instantly made it accessible to anyone with a mobile phone or tablet.

How did easy did you find it to roll out Edulink One? Are there any lessons you can share with others?

We found the roll out relatively pain free. Luckily, we have a good team of staff and parents that support the school and embrace new technology. Everything worked well first time around and we didn’t really have any problems.

We did tend to introduce one section at a time, so would concentrate on something like room bookings for a while before moving onto the next section.

Edulink One is really intuitive so there is very little time spent training or creating guides. Students, parents and staff can just pick up the app and use it straight away.

What have been the benefits?  Were there any unexpected benefits?

The main benefit is to have almost everything in one place for parents. Parents can log into one platform and access reports, can see their child attendance and can message teachers asking for more information. Teachers can set homework, which can then be viewed by students and parents. Parents can make appointments for parents evening and then update their data at the same time. Edulink One has essentially become the central resource to everything. Teachers take registers, log behaviour, detentions, and book rooms all in one application.

We’ve never done anything with detentions before in SIMS, so that was a nice feature to find. It’s saved so much time messing around with spreadsheets.

We have really high engagement with parents and students logging into the app, much higher than any other solution we’ve used before.

What elements have you rolled out so far? Are you planning more?

I think we used pretty much everything other than Noticeboard. I should use noticeboard to add school newsletters and things like that.

I’d like to look at more of the communicator automation so parents are notified when specific events occur, we use it for detentions and that works really well.

We’re also starting to look at using the after school clubs a lot more. 

Did you make any cost savings?

Definitely in terms of resources and time spent. Time spent would be hard to put a figure on, but I think it would be a significant saving in only having to manage one system.

Little things add up, not having to print data collection sheets for parents and doing it electronically instead saves paper, postage and time. It also does a little bit to help the environment really!

Being able to cancel some of the other old software subscriptions will have also saved thousands.

How have you used Edulink One to support students during the Covid-19 lockdown?

Edulink One has been the hub that links everything together during lock down. Students can talk to teachers over it very easily. For every timetabled lesson, teachers have uploaded work for students to complete and then mark as complete once done. 

We are doing a lot of live lessons in Teams, but all staff and students are being directed to Edulink One as the main ‘command centre’ for instructions for lessons.

The Headteacher messages at the start of the day to open school and at the end of the day to close school, she gets so many nice messages off the children through it, it’s really quite nice.

We have put links to mental health websites in the links section and just used it as the one stop shop as we do in ‘normal times’.

What has been most successful?

Probably the whole roll out and uptake. Staff used to complain at how clunky and slow SIMS was, but this gives you access to the same data but in a much more modern and user-friendly way. Many schools have visited to look at how we used Edulink One and have then purchased it for themselves.

Edulink One has allowed us to think of new ways of working and actually compliments the processes instead of being cumbersome and in the way.

The fact that teachers can see so much from their seating plans and registers without having to search is a real winner.

Quote to sum it up?

Edulink One really is a fantastic asset. It’s simple to use and ties so many activities/tasks from school life together in one place. The app has helped improve communication with parents and we’ve seen nothing but benefits from implementing it.

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