Bay House is a large 11-18 academy using a custom EVOLVE site. We have over 2,200 learners and facilitate visits to the likes of Malawi, Gallipoli, China and Iceland, not forgetting many daytime visits and sports fixtures.
Having found other off-site visit management systems unsuitable for our needs, it was pleasing to find a system and team who are able to cater for exactly what we require. From the offset the eduFOCUS team have been very supportive and able to respond to our complex requirements and fitting with our policy and procedures. They also made some useful suggestions to help streamline our processes.
Using the system is straightforward for Visit Leaders, EVCs and Head Teachers
The approval system has a rigid framework, therefore when used correctly it enables a school to meet both legal and OEAP requirements. It also allows a degree of flexibility, so that a school can create custom questions that fit within the school’s policy and procedures. For example a school could include a question to ensure that a visit leader has acknowledged the emergency procedures, or has recorded flight details. This is very easy to set up, as is uploading policy documents to EVOLVE, and reminders of the school’s procedures.
Using the system is straightforward for Visit Leaders, EVCs and Head Teachers. One of the things that I like most about EVOLVE is that it forces users to be organised, as the process is very logical and does not allow you to move on until relevant information is provided. The need for paperwork is eliminated, however you still have the opportunity to upload and view other documents, such as risk assessments and examples of letters to parents. Users can also record notes on a visit form, for example if an EVC is not happy to approve a visit, they can record a note explaining the reasons for this and what is required for the visit to be approved. The notes remain on the visit form, providing a robust audit trial, which may be helpful later on should school need to demonstrate that they have followed appropriate procedures. Information recorded on EVOLVE remains in the system, which users can access in the future. This is particularly useful for repeat visits.
EVOLVE is a powerful tool for visits, however it has a wider scope for recording extracurricular and onsite activities.
It is easy to check the status of a visit form, with users able to keep tabs on its position within the approval chain. Users also have the ability to see all visits via the calendar view, which is not just confined to EVOLVE but can be synced to appear in Outlook or other calendars. The calendar syncing can also be filtered, so that calendars can be created to show individual departments, such as PE. The calendar features are very useful and not difficult to set up.
Syncing with a school’s MIS such as SIMS is also easily done. This is a brilliant feature and means that pupils’ emergency contact/medical details, etc., can be quickly accessed and instantly collated (assuming this has been input correctly in the MIS). This enables EVOLVE to act as a one stop shop for visits, and you can print detailed registers and information regarding the visit, such as a pupils dietary requirements. As EVOLVE is an online system, it is possible to a register via a mobile/tablet device, thus eliminating the need for lots of paperwork, remembering that all vital information can be taken from the MIS. EVOLVE can even be used to instantly contact parents via text during a visit which could be very useful in an emergency situation. The MIS link also allows the output of data, for example a report could be run that shows all Year 9 Drama visits over a set period of time, or a report showing all visits that an individual pupil has taken part in during their time at the school. The reporting section has become increasingly useful, particularly in ensuring that pupil premium and disadvantaged learners are involved with visits and learning outside the classroom activities.
Bay House have found EVOLVE to be a highly effective system.
EVOLVE is a powerful tool for visits, however it has a wider scope for recording extracurricular and onsite activities. Unsure PE staff need not fear, as recording fixtures is fast, and EVOLVE can be set up so that this process is quicker and easier compared to higher risk activities. When recording PE clubs, multiple dates can be added at one time, making the recording of weekly clubs an effortless process. Our PE staff have found this useful when reporting on pupils’ participation in such activities.
As mentioned, eduFOCUS are always supportive and very helpful when responding to queries. Their annual user conferences provide the opportunity for users to discuss ideas and ways of using the system, and demonstrate how highly eduFOCUS’ value users’ feedback. In terms of professional learning, the EVOLVE National Library is also a useful resource as this provides access to up to date guidance and legislation.
Overall myself and colleagues at Bay House have found EVOLVE to be a highly effective system. It is flexible, easy to use, and assists in ensuring the safety of the learners. I wouldn’t hesitate in recommending this fantastic system to any school who wish to be organised and take learning outside the classroom seriously.
Head of Operations & Ethos
Written May 2015