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Headmaster John Milne believes that Mesma has great potential in the independent sector

Software helps school prepare for inspection

A Bristol school is the first in the independent sector to benefit from a new web-based management tool

Posted by Dave Higgitt | March 24, 2015 | Technology

Clifton College Preparatory School caters for 500 day and boarding pupils aged between three and 13, who are supported by 120 teaching and support staff delivering a broad curriculum to prepare them for senior study at one of the country’s leading public schools. 

Now, after new investment in ‘intelligent’ software from Mesma, the school is better prepared for inspections by both the Independent Schools Inspectorate (ISI) and Ofsted while the senior management team benefit from real-time access to critical information about the school’s development plan at the touch of a button. 

Mesma is a web-based management tool that provides access to self-assessment activity and improvement plans, bringing transparency and efficiencies to an otherwise time-intensive process. 

A key feature is its ability to deal effectively with the intricacies of the preparatory school’s development plan, which outlines the provision for curriculum, pastoral care, sport, marketing, ICT and administration, to deliver an easy-to-use resource. This enables personalised accounts to be set up quickly and easily and authorised staff notified automatically about assigned actions and tasks which need to be undertaken.  

The software features intuitive properties, guiding staff through the process of evaluation, grading and planning, and storing the supporting documentary evidence to ensure it is readily accessible for internal purposes and external inspection.  

Over the last year, Clifton College Preparatory School has been looking at how the management of the development plan can be improved, while ensuring staff are better placed to implement, measure and report back on the progress of assigned actions and duties against key yardsticks. 

Similar to other independent schools, Clifton College is also subject to ISI inspections, often undertake at short notice and without a great deal of time to prepare. This requires the headmaster and his management team to have ready access to relevant information and important ‘live’ documents to show to the inspectors. 

This led headmaster John Milne to introduce Mesma after reviewing the software and dismissing alternative off-the-shelf systems as too inflexible for meeting the requirements of the independent schools’ sector. Currently department heads, administration and marketing staff (approximately 15 people) use Mesma but John Milne expects that this will more than double as the school’s development plan continues to unfold and more require access. 

“Mesma’s self-evaluation capabilities are extremely good,” he said. “It provides a head start to being ready for inspections, which often take place at short notice, while its flexibility and versatility enables us to meet the requirements of running a large school campus. 

“The easy-to-understand summaries provide a clear view from a management perspective of where the school currently stands, and the direction in which it is heading, at any single moment in time. This gives me greater control and the reassurance that tasks are being properly undertaken and completed on time. 

“I can see at a glance the evidence of achievement, actions implemented and the progress of the development plan from anywhere in the school, or even when I’m away on overseas business. Using the system also enables the senior management team to proactively spot any potential problems or concerns and rectify them very quickly and easily.” 

The versatility and ease-of-use that lies at the heart of Mesma’s multi-function capabilities also offers staff an engaging and intuitive tool for up-loading documentary evidence to confirm curriculum delivery and progress. For instance, teachers can upload images and videos as evidence in support of their evaluation. In time, the school governors will also access Mesma to support the functions of governance. 

Mesma also keeps John Milne informed of progress relating to specific tasks and actions he has set-up and assigned to individual staff, providing reassurance that people are performing their duties diligently. This includes sending him an automatic alert reminding him to follow up on a specific action, or if an email deadline has passed. 

In his mind, there’s no doubt Mesma is destined to become an integral and indispensable part of the school’s overall management process: “Mesma undoubtedly gives us an advantage, providing an affordable and tailor-made management resource that puts us in control of vital processes, enabling us to have at the press of a button all the important information required for the school inspectors. 

“Furthermore, the fact that Mesma can be easily adapted and tailored to operate within the ISI regulatory framework, and can be specifically written to meet individual needs, adds real value and speaks volumes for its potential in the independent education sector.” 

Mesma was set-up in response to changes implemented by education watchdog Ofsted, which led to schools, colleges and independent providers receiving reduced notice of inspection. It is owned and operated by three directors - Neil Donkin, Carole Loader and Louise Doyle - who between them have more than 30 years experience in business and working in with the education sector.

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