As part of Nord Anglia Education’s family of 70+ schools, the British International School of Houston (BIS Houston) offers personalized education with outstanding teachers and facilities. BIS Houston enables every student to advance the skills needed for their next phase in life in order to succeed academically, socially, and personally. BIS Houston graduates who access the International Baccalaureate Diploma Program have high academic achievement including about 80% of each cohort scoring above the global average.
Background on BIS Houston’s School-to-Home Management System
In 2017, BIS Houston implemented a new school-to-home management system, CHQ, to manage after-school clubs. At this same time Louise Skerry was employed by the school to manage the system. Bookings for after-school clubs were taken through the system; however payments were unable to be made through CHQ, lacking communication between the activities and the Finance Department. Louise explains “It was still a brand new system and we used it solely for our after school clubs, that was it. We didn’t take payment at that time. That was still done by our finance office”.
Transitioning to SchoolsBuddy
Faria Education Group acquired CHQ in late 2021. A phased SchoolsBuddy transition was agreed for post Easter break 2022. “We aimed to go live after Easter because I wanted to ensure any issues were sorted out before our biggest block of CCAs (after school clubs) in August.” says Louise
Integration with the existing school ed-tech environment was a priority for the school. A twice daily sync with their MIS (iSAMS), means that staff have visibility of student movements, with transparency on absences, as well as being able to rearrange impacted activities and transport at a click of a button.
The transition was complemented by single sign on. Both staff (O365) and parents (iSAMS) are able to login to the system with existing credentials, saving admin time in parent queries and resetting multiple passwords for multiple systems. “What’s quite helpful with SchoolsBuddy is the one login, so you’re not having to remember passwords – everything is under one roof. It’s stopped a lot of problems with having to reset passwords” adds Louise.
The SchoolsBuddy Experience
The intuitive UI and the support resources of SchoolsBuddy was well received by the whole school community and reduced stress on training staff and parent support. Louise says “When you log in it’s all there in front of you. So all you have to do is click on it and go.” and she adds, “A lot of parents prefer to do things themselves around their schedules, so the parent response is really positive.”
The complex after school programme has been simplified for both staff and parents with the use of SchoolsBuddy’s flexible instant book sign up. Parent schedules can quickly change, so being able to book ad-hoc sessions when needed is greatly appreciated. Louise mentions “Using ‘Instant Book’ also works well for international students that might join at any point during the school year and payments for clubs and activities are automatically pro rata’d…add(ing) customer information like health insurance data, passport details etc. has also been really useful.
Finally, communicating through multiple channels has provided parents with accountability for school messages
Maximizing the System
As confidence grew in the system, expansion into other modules, such as Transport, School Trips and Parent Teacher Conferences quickly followed.
PTCs: Centralising PTCs in SchoolsBuddy keeps everything in one place for the school community. Louise said “We had another separate system for PTCs, but we got rid of it, as it made sense to integrate everything into SchoolsBuddy.”
Transport: Managing school transport through spreadsheets was time consuming and painstaking for the team at BIS Houston. Automating this process was a top priority for Louise when she took over transport coordination. Organization through SchoolsBuddy has saved significant admin time, and day to day, has given parents more agency with change requests and bus selections.
Louise says “the system automatically syncs with activities and takes students off the bus and moves them to not expected so we know for definite if a student is or isn’t coming.” and “your parents take away a lot of the administrative work, because they make the change requests and you can just hit approve. You are no longer coming into work to 30 emails of change requests.”
School trips: Offering an exciting variety of school trips is a fantastic opportunity for all students at BIS Houston. Collecting deposits and payments through SchoolsBuddy has made this process more efficient. A transparent view of outstanding fees makes collecting fees simple for Louise.
A Thriving School-to-Home Management System
BIS Houston continues to expand the use of SchoolsBuddy to manage their thriving after school program and many aspects of school-to-home organization and communication. Under Louise’s expert knowledge and understanding, they continue to look for ways to maximize the system’s effectiveness and use it to save time for both staff and parents.