The short answer to this question is No.
Plus! for schools operates entirely online, so this means
that you are not tied to using a particular computer - you can work at a
time and place convenient to you, at school or at home - and you always
have access to the most up to date data. The system will work with virtually
any internet connection speed, but broadband certainly improves the user
experience if you have a lot of information to process.
On the other hand you are unlikely to need to buy new computers,
special school networks etc. to use Plus! for schools, saving a considerable
amount of capital investment and ongoing maintenance.
This is a simple question, but there are many aspects to
defining 'secure', such as where are the computers physically located and
who is guarding access to them, what steps are taken to safeguard and backup
data, who controls when and by whom that data can be accessed, as well as
perhaps the more obvious concerns about computer hackers.
At Schoolbacs we take the safeguarding of your data extremely
seriously and have designed applications like Plus! for schools to the highest
standards, similar to those employed by banks. We continue to monitor best
practice in this area and respond to changes in potential threats on a continuous
Refer to other FAQs for more specific answers.
Plus! for schools is run on an Application Service Web Server
(a sophisticated type of web server), located in a secure data centre in
West London. The data centre is security guarded 24hrs a day 365 days a
year. Only a very small number of security cleared engineers are allowed
in the inner server room itself which is protected by pass cards and other
security controls. The data centre also houses a number of other servers
running commercial and military websites.
This level of physical security far exceeds that generally
available on school premises, alleviating the risk that data can be physically
Plus! for schools operates on a 'shared service' model,
meaning that a number of schools are sharing the use of the same physical
server. This brings both cost savings and more power to the disposal of
each school than they would otherwise be able to afford because everyone
shares part of a much bigger system. Each schools data is segregated from
every other, so the system appears exclusive to each.
All data is backed up on a daily basis and retained for
a suitable period of time. Should the worst happen, all data could be recovered
in a matter of hours to resume normal operation. However, the most likely
reason for data loss is some accidental action by users and a number of
steps are taken in the processing of the data to minimise this possibility,
for example a recycle bin to collect information prior to permanent deletion.
Users do not have unrestricted direct access to files on
the system, so the danger of accidentally deleting critical data or system
files on computers or servers in the school is eliminated.
The Software market is experiencing a major evolution. The
on-site delivery models (where you insert a CD in the computer and pray)
are becoming things of yesterday as they are being replaced by Software
as a Service, SaaS solutions. SaaS solutions are delivered on-demand via
website connections as fully managed services.
Many major companies are moving in this direction, including
Microsoft, SAP and pioneers like Salesforce.com because freeing users from
installation and maintenance headaches makes it easier for customers to
use their products. SaaS appears high on many analysts' top 10 trends lists
for 2006 and beyond with Gartner predicting that by 2010 30% of new software
will be delivered via the SaaS model. "The SaaS market reached $4.2
billion in 2004 and will grow at an annual compound rate of 21% until it
reaches $10.7 billion in 2009" according to IDC research.
SaaS is so appealing due to the flexibility it gives customers
and the ability to access business functions remotely with usage based pricing
rather than a large up front capital outlay plus the associated risk. It
is initially most prevalent in HR and payroll, CRM and Financial Markets.
Schoolbacs are one of the leading exponents of this way
of working in the education sector.
Absolutely! Reports and grade cards created using Plus!
for schools can be printed directly from the system with all the headaches
of collation and formatting automatically taken care of, saving lots of
time on low level tasks.
On the specified release date, the same reports will be
available to those parents that have been issued login accounts to your
Plus! for schools system - particularly useful to keep busy or distant parents
informed about their child's latest news. Whilst our research shows that
the majority of parents would be pleased to receive reports online, schools
always have the choice when to roll out this feature on a parent-by-parent
No! The information available to every user of Plus! for
schools is tailored to their role or association with the school, so in
the case of parents, they are able to view extensive information about their
own children but not any others.
Parents can also view the other information that the school
holds such as emergency contact phone numbers. This means that the information
links between parents and school are stronger, and parents are able quickly
give feedback on any inaccuracies or changes - a very practical time-saving
measure that also helps schools comply with the core principles of the Data
Protection Act (1998).
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