Sector representatives join SMS working group

Issue: Volume 94, Number 21

Posted: 23 November 2015
Reference #: 1H9cyC

Nineteen sector representatives have joined a working group that will help shape the scope and outcomes of the Ministry of Education’s Student Management System (SMS) initiative.

The SMS initiative is a project that is reviewing the use of SMS within schools, in order to support schools and student achievement and strengthen the education system. 

Working group members will contribute to project documents, be involved in focus groups to consider topics in depth, lead discussions on agreed topics and seek wider input from their own networks within the education sector.

The majority of working group members are teachers and leaders from a mix of primary, intermediate and secondary schools. Their names and regions are listed at the end of this article.

All are active members of an online discussion group that has considered, 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.

In recent months the group has been considering some options for the future. These options are aimed at addressing the problems of vital information not following students as they move through different education providers and the lack of common understanding of what student data is captured and how to capture it.

The project team put forward three options for consideration and members of the discussion group have suggested another.

The project team’s options were multiple SMS (the current model), one SMS product for all schools and a SMS solution which includes a centralised database for core student data.

Multiple SMS is, in effect, the status quo and currently there is a lack of standardisation that makes it difficult for schools to effectively share information, knowledge and good practice.

A single SMS would take a number of years to develop and implement and would have to be very flexible and versatile to meet the differing needs of large secondary and small primary schools.

The team’s preferred option, based on feedback from the initial SMS workshop, feedback from the online discussion group and its own research, is a centralised repository for core student data with all SMS connected to the central data base. Under this model schools would continue to have a relationship with their chosen SMS vendor and vital student information would be readily available when needed.

The Ministry would have a stewardship role and the sector a governance role.

A member of the discussion group has suggested another option. This proposes a centralised core database, one SMS for all schools, with multiple SMS vendors supporting different functions of the SMS.

There has been animated discussion about these options in the online group and the team is keen to get feedback from the wider school community.

School leaders and teachers interested in finding out more about the other option are welcome to join the online discussion group by emailing the following address;

The SMS initiative is holding another workshop on 3 December, which will be attended by members of the online discussion group.

If you would like to have a report of that workshop, email

Members of the SMS initiative working group and the education regions they work in:

  • Graeme Barber – Canterbury
  • Shane Beverley – Wellington
  • Kevin Byrne – Taranaki/Whanganui/Manawatu
  • Lisa Cavanagh – Wellington
  • John Creighton – Canterbury
  • Gail Dewar – Wellington
  • Wayne Duncan – Otago/Southland
  • Ruth Elmey – Nelson/Marlborough/West Coast
  • Judy Elvidge – Tai Tokerau
  • Jocelyn Hale – Waikato
  • Tim Harper – Otago/Southland
  • Belinda Havill - Bay of Plenty/Rotorua/Taupo
  • Gavin Holland – Bay of Plenty/Rotorua/Taupo
  • Clare Linzey – Bay of Plenty/Rotorua/Taupo
  • Michael Malins – Auckland
  • Ron van Musscher – Wellington
  • Andrea Peetz – Wellington
  • Deidre Senior – Otago/Southland
  • John Topp – Wellington

BY Education Gazette editors
Education Gazette | Tukutuku Kōrero,

Posted: 4:34 pm, 23 November 2015

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