Computeam Update on SIMS

News hit hard last month when it was revealed that ESS SIMS had contacted schools with warnings of impending contract changes from an annual renewal to a 3 year renewal. 

The new framework would be put into effect as of 1st Feb 2022—putting schools in the precarious position of not being able to choose an alternative to SIMS until 2025. And, for many schools and trusts, the total costs of a 3 year agreement with SIMS might breach procurement rules if three quotes are not sought.

While SIMS have suggested that the new terms were not uncommon in their industry—and that their previous model was very much an anomaly—a spokesperson from the Department for Education has said that it would be investigating the change and encouraged all schools to allow a moment of deliberation before agreeing to the new contract.

What next for schools?

In what is a seismic move from ESS SIMS, likely to cause an immediate wave of alarm and uncertainty in the education sector, schools will now be left wondering what their options are. 

Interestingly, James Wetherill from Arbor MIS wrote recently that schools didn’t actually have to accept the 3 year terms and questioned whether SIMS were even within their legal remit to enforce the change. ‘We understand from public sources that schools who have pushed back have managed to get 1 year extensions, and you should do the same,’ suggested Wetherill.

In a further developmentTESare reporting that 100s of schools are considering launching collective legal action to challenge ESS new contractual terms. 

The major take-home at this juncture seems to be that schools do indeed have a choice. In fact, there are a number of different avenues that education departments can head down in light of the announcement. 

So what can schools do now? Let’s take a look: 

Request another deal

Often schools prefer the flexibility and less beholden nature of shorter-term deals—and if that’s the case, ask for it.

You’ll be required to navigate the ESS portal to set the wheels in motion, but there have already been reports of some schools tying down one-year renewals.


While most MIS providers are now fully cloud-based, SIMS is not completely there yet—but we believe it is on their roadmap. This would provide far more flexibility around access from anywhere and would remove the need for on-premise servers in school. Better for budget and the environment! If nothing else, and you do decide to renew with SIMS for a further three years, it would be a great benefit to see how many advancements have been made by others in the education MIS market.

If your school has made the decision to consider a change in MIS provider, then your school or trust could run a mini tender simply via frameworks such as Everything ICT. These frameworks are geared towards helping schools find value for money with their cloud computer services, and you’ll find that most MIS providers are on them. Do your research and find the best deal for your school.

Check renewal notices

If customers allow their contract to rundown, a large number of MIS providers auto-generate renewals for three years. Be sure to keep a close eye on your notice period as changes or cancellations need to be agreed 90 days before the renewal date. 

The majority of renewals are in April, so the end of December is your cut-off point.

Don’t fear change

Changing your MIS can feel like a daunting undertaking, and not something that any school should jump into without a good degree of research and consideration.

You should, however, feel safe in the knowledge that there’s a wealth of IT industry experts out there to help you during the transition—and MIS providers themselves are geared up to ensure smooth and painless changeovers.

There’s no shortage of MIS providers available—we would strongly recommend and point schools towards Arbor and IRIS EdGen— and you’ll find that most are perfectly at home moving your IT systems on a timescale that suits you and your current contract’s end.

How can we help?

If there’s anything you’d like to discuss with Computeam about the issues raised in today’s blog—or would like some expert and independent guidance about changing your school’s MIS solution—then please get in touch.

Posted on December 13th 2021

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