Smart software for a successful sports programme

Sponsored: Schools are using world-class software to manage and communicate their extensive sports programmes

“We thought there must be a better way to communicate fixtures to parents,” said Phil Kershaw-Naylor, the founder of SOCS, recalling his experiences as a parent of two rugby-playing sons. “It was 1997 and we relied on the printed school calendar for information on what fixtures the boys were taking part in at the weekend. Given our enthusiasm for watching the boys play, it could be a frustrating experience keeping up to date on times and locations – the map would come out last minute, and we’d be off to find a remote rugby field somewhere in the South West. So, I initially came up with an online fixtures calendar to solve the problem we had as parents.”

Twenty years later, nearly 800 independent schools across 15 countries are using SOCS Sport to manage and communicate their fixtures, team sheets and results to parents. Initially devised as a simple process for communicating fixtures, SOCS is now used as the operational planning resource at some of the largest schools in the world, including Millfield, Wellington College, Whitgift and Dulwich College. Whilst having a rapidly growing presence in the UK and across the world, SOCS has remained a family business, priding itself in close client relationships and approachability.

James Kershaw-Naylor, once a keen rugby player at Monmouth School, now the Business Development Director at SOCS, said: “We’ve found that it is often the sports coach we are able to help most, as using SOCS Sport reduces their admin work significantly and enables them to focus on the children and the actual sport. We wanted to help the sports staff manage the weekly job of picking teams, identifying clashes, collating results and match reports, and our sports tool does just that. It is also possible to produce participation stats with a few clicks, to feed back to the senior leadership team, which can be incredibly helpful.”

“The whole point is to reduce the workload, whilst improving the schools’ communications with current parents, and giving them a tool to market their extensive sports programmes to prospective parents too.”

SOCS also helps over 600 schools operate competitions each season. “We acknowledge that the schools don’t exist in a vacuum. SOCS Sport plugs the schools into the wider fixture community. For example, when Millfield adds a fixture against King’s Taunton, the fixture details are shared by both schools, meaning that only one school has to add the fixture. This saves time when a school first adopts SOCS as they will often find that every school they play against is already using SOCS and the relevant fixtures have been added by others,” explained Will Kershaw-Naylor, SOCS Director of IT. Will himself enjoyed a successful career as a professional rugby player, playing at the Rosslyn Park School National Sevens, and then later in Dubai and South Africa for the Wales national Rugby Sevens team.

The team behind SOCS is passionate about working with schools to tackle the challenge of managing and communicating fixtures and clubs, whilst making sure that the sports staff don’t have to deal with yet another tool that adds to the workload. “The whole point is to reduce the workload, whilst improving the schools’ communications with current parents, and giving them a tool to market their extensive sports programmes to prospective parents too,” said Lucy Watkins, Head of Client Management. Lucy joined the business from an independent school teaching background and understands the challenges from the schools’ perspective. She is excited that SOCS now has thousands of sports coaches using SOCS sport every day: “Their feedback is critical to the continued development of the sports management system. We are good listeners, which has contributed to our success,” she concluded.

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