Get involved in the SMS initiative

Issue: Volume 94, Number 15

Posted: 24 August 2015
Reference #: 1H9cry

The education sector and the Ministry are working together to resolve the challenge of easily accessing and sharing information that schools, students and caregivers need – and they want to involve more people in the school sector.

The Student Management System (SMS) initiative was launched after discussions with schools, and within the Ministry, highlighted problems with SMSs and a desire for change. The initiative is reviewing the use of SMSs within schools, in order to support schools and student achievement and strengthen the education system.

It is, among other things, facilitating sector-led discussion on concerns about the transfer of data from one school to another, easy access to the student data that schools and parents require, and the ability for data to follow students throughout their school years.

The initiative began with a workshop attended by representatives from primary, intermediate, and secondary schools, education consultants, SMS vendors and facilitated by the Ministry’s project team.

Recommendations from workshop attendees ranged from a single cloud-based SMS, run by an independent entity, to defining core data that can be easily transferred from one school to another while retaining the relationship between schools and SMS vendors.

Since then almost 150 sector representatives have been involved in an online discussion group looking at, among other things, the kind of data that should follow a student throughout his or her school years and the kind of data that needs to be easily accessible to schools.

Ideas from the online discussion are being been taken into account by the Ministry project team. The team has been working on a project mandate that includes stakeholder engagement, the scope and approach of the initiative and the work streams.

Stakeholder engagement is a high priority. The online discussion group has flagged the need for wide sector input into proposals. The Ministry wants to facilitate input from as wide a range of people as possible and partner with the sector to identify preferred solutions.

The model developed by the project and illustrated on this page proposes continuous feedback loops between key stakeholder groups, which include sector representatives who have already registered an interest in the SMS initiative, the Ministry, working groups that will be formed to focus on specific topics related to the project, the governance group and the wider education sector.

“The Ministry will be putting published material out for feedback and promoting these documents as widely as possible,” said Lesley Hoskin, the Ministry’s Associate Deputy Secretary Student Achievement. “But it would be great if more principals and teachers registered their interest now. The team is looking for people who may be interested in joining working groups or are simply interested in giving their views or joining the online discussion via

The current scope of the project is SMSs in the compulsory sector, which includes state schools, state integrated schools, independent schools, partnership schools and Te Kura, the Correspondence school.

A number of participants in the online discussion group emphasised the importance of an information flow from early childhood to tertiary. The Ministry will document the student’s transition into and from schooling, with a view to ensuring that any solution developed for the compulsory sector will also enable information to follow the student from early childhood to tertiary.

There will be three work streams in the SMS project.

One will be the strategy work stream. This work stream will work with the sector to define the current problems and the priorities for change, develop a future vision for the project, and develop a map of what is needed to reach the vision. The first phase is defining the scope and strategy; the second phase will be a delivery phase and will lead to new projects and products.

The second work stream will be stakeholder engagement. This will ensure there is a plan for involving stakeholders and keeping the sector well informed.

The third is an internal work stream that will review Ministry procedures and processes and ensure there is a coordinated internal approach to managing any changes.

The stakeholder engagement model, high-level scope and approach and a breakdown of the work streams were posted with the sector-led online discussion group for their feedback and are also available on the Education website(external link) 

“The Ministry project team would be interested in the views of principals and teachers who have not been involved to date,” Lesley said. “This project is important to all schools.”

Key: The diagram shows the numbers 1 – 6 within a circle, these represent the following:

1 Wider SMS Initiative Team – This includes those that have registered an interest in this initiative (the Sector Collaborative Group) plus the Project team and Working Group(s) members
2 Project Team – This is the core DELTA project team that will undertake the bulk of the work within the initiative.
3 Working Group – This group is made up of stakeholders who have registered an interest, SMS vendors, subject matter experts (‘SMEs’) and the Project Team. Many working groups are likely to be formed focusing on specific topics e.g. Application/Data/ Technology/Business. They may be formed by asking for expressions of interest or a mix of people who have expressed interest and appointed members with particular expertise.
4 Sector Collaborative Group – These are the stakeholders that have registered an interest and asked to be informed about the ongoing progress on this initiative.
5 Wider Sector Engagement – We need to reach a wide range of people in the sector, whether they have registered an interest or not. We will communicate to this group through the Ministry’s website(s), publications, by email to sector organisations and we will ask stakeholders who have registered an interest to help us get the word out to their colleagues.
6 Governance Group – This group governs and provides guidance and advice.

BY Education Gazette editors
Education Gazette | Tukutuku Kōrero,

Posted: 6:51 pm, 24 August 2015

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