BESA in conversation with WCBS

Ian Hunter, CCO at WCBS, talks to BESA about their new product and how it can future-proof independent schools

You launched a new product, HUB, in September. How did you realise that schools needed this new information management system? 

WCBS has been conducting research with independent and international schools about their information management for several years now. This year’s research highlighted a growing understanding of the importance of cloud-based technology for anytime, anywhere data accessibility, manageability, seamless integration with third-party applications, and security. The research reassured us of what we believe: that the time is right to move into the cloud. 

HUB is a true cloud, software-as-a-service, multi-tenanted information management system for schools. Several areas of our lives today use cloud-based systems for big data management, such as online banking and social media. For WCBS to remain at the forefront of school information management, we needed to do the same.

Our priority is to support schools in delivering outstanding education, with an MIS that provides instant access to relevant data to track student progress, identify areas for intervention and improve performance. HUB delivers enhanced academic and communication capabilities, thus ensuring the whole school community benefits from using it.

WCBS has been working with international schools for some time now. How do you cater differently to them? 

International schools follow a wide variety of curricula, examinations, assessments, and fee structures, and often face language challenges when communicating with parents. As a result, our information management provision for international schools needs to be flexible, adaptable, and translatable. HUB enables us to provide even more product flexibility for international schools. For example, being fully bilingual means it enables individual users to access their MIS without any communication barriers.

In addition, we provide service support that is accessible virtually round-the-clock to suit international schools in all time zones, and have customer support on the ground in key regions.

You’ve known particular success in your exports to China. What do you see being the future of EdTech in China? What other countries do you think will be good markets for UK education companies? 

We have seen excellent success in China because we have produced solutions that meet the requirements of the schools there. 

The private schools available to local Chinese children in China (which includes the bilingual international schools) are very keen to develop their edtech provision. They are particularly keen to work with high-quality British suppliers who are prepared to tailor provision and provide adequate support. 

Other countries particularly favourable for British education suppliers are the UAE, because of its high number of international schools, and several countries within South-East Asia due to their increasing demand for English-medium education. 

What do you think are the main challenges that headteachers of independent schools face at the moment? What can be done to support them better?

There has never been so much information collected by schools, that’s required for a wide range of purposes. Providing solutions for the efficient management of data to improve student performance, school inspection and accreditation, strategic development, and improved teaching and learning, while being accessible for all stakeholders in a user-friendly, user-centric way, is an ever-increasing priority.

Schools have to remain competitive in the market today, and technology is prominent everywhere and in all we do. HUB provides advanced tools to help schools move forward and future-proof themselves. 

It’s come at a pinnacle time for schools across the globe. 

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