The American School in London is an independent pre-K through 12th grade day school. They’re located in the heart of London, England and have a population of 1,400 students. They moved to Veracross in 2010.
When Danny Dawson was hired as the Administrative Software Manager at The American School in London (ASL), his main responsibility was to manage the school’s database. Prior to Veracross, ASL was using a homebuilt system on FileMaker Pro as their student information system (SIS). They had custom built an in-house solution because, at the time, there weren’t many options available to purchase on the market.
The in-house system was fairly comprehensive, but over time some challenges started to arise.
For one, the in-house system relied heavily on one person — Danny — to manage it. Any questions, problems, or changes to the system went through him. This resulted in a hefty workload and concerns about one person’s ability to manage a school-wide operation.
Secondly, it was difficult to grant parents or students access to the system. Lastly, as technology continued to progress and new mediums like video were available, the in-house system struggled to keep up.
There were limits with what the software could do… people wanted to do things that were beginning to go beyond the bounds of the platform.
ASL realized they needed a new software solution and began to search for their next student information system. Luckily, the market had grown since their first search years before!
While there was no formal committee, Danny and the Technology Director spearheaded the search for a new SIS. They researched the marketplace and narrowed it down to three potential options. Then, they planned a trip to the United States to meet each vendor in person.
The in-person visit was a unique but important step in ASL’s process. They wanted to get a sense of each team, product, and company as a whole before committing to a new vendor relationship. As part of this effort, they also coordinated with several US-based schools who were current customers of each software system.
The main criteria for their new SIS included:
- Flexibility: ASL wasn’t looking for a system that was “take it or leave it,” they wanted something that could bend as they needed it to accomplish certain things.
- Strong data structure: moving from an in-house platform, Danny knew that a strong data structure would prevent roadblocks in the future. They needed a platform that was built to grow and made it easy to get data in and out.
- User-friendly: the system needed to be intuitive for internal users.
After their in-person visits, it was clear to ASL that Veracross was the right solution for their needs. “Veracross made the best impression all around… We liked them as people and it seemed like [they] had gotten the tech right!” says Danny.
He was particularly impressed by Veracross’ data structure and the single-record database. The emphasis on “one person per record” was non-negotiable to Danny, as his technical background allowed him to understand the intricacies of the platform.
It reflects reality… you are a person who does multiple things. You’ve got kids, attendance, report cards, transcripts, and they’ve got all this stuff going on that all has to come back to the same place. Unless you get that structure right, you’re going to find it harder and harder to expand.
He knew that this data structure would set the school up for success down the road.
ASL and Veracross Today
Today, ASL relies on Veracross for the vast majority of their school’s needs.
Major departments like admissions, academics, accounting, athletics, and health use it daily for everything from checking attendance to fulfilling report cards, financial aid, and after school activities. They also use the Veracross API to integrate with third-party platforms like their LMS.
The school keeps their community engaged using Veracross communication tools like Composer email, SMS, and customized user portals to send divisional newsletters, emergency updates, and other important communications.
More than anything else, the school appreciates how easy it is to find their data.
It’s very stable — well put together, well thought through. The query engine is very powerful and relatively easy to use. You can get your data out super easily… I’ve done a little work with other schools who have different systems, and I’ve been amazed at how difficult it can be just to get out a list of what kids are in a class!