Sam Haydock, Head of School at The Hollins, discusses her
reasons for bringing in School Synergy and how the system
has brought real benefits, supporting and improving the way
that the school works.
An effective system for Behaviour
and better parental engagement
Q What brought you to School Synergy and why did
you adopt the system?
A “We were looking for a more effective parental
communication system, our last one was quite
restricted. There was a time factor involved in
going backwards and forwards to people to ask
them to pass messages on to parents. This was
inefficient and unacceptable because parental
engagement is a huge part of our plan for school
improvement for the next few years.
Synergy came to my attention through two
things. We’ve quite a few parents with children
in another local school that use Synergy and
they said that, from a parental point of view, it is
absolutely fantastic - everything is to hand.
Also, as Head of School I have what’s called a
professional buddy, if you like, and his school had
just taken it on and he told me that Synergy was
People don’t like change, and going online is a whole
different ball game. We were paper everywhere before
Synergy came on board with us. So, parents were a little
bit reluctant, but it was exactly like the experience with
staff, as soon as they understood how much power they
had at their fingertips they were very rapidly on board
and we have had lots of advice from Synergy as well.
Some of our parents had a shock to the system, but
without fail it has enabled us to help build really
good relationships with parents.
What we got with Synergy, though, was far
more than just the parental communication and
Q How did you find the on-boarding and
A “Really easy. At the time we were having significant
network and IT issues, so I did have a concern as to
whether we would be able to run it or not, and who
would be our go to person in school with regards to
the technical side. But all of that was fantastically
dealt with by Synergy and the team, who talked us
through what we needed to do.
Before we knew it we were on-board and online
and it was all systems go. Whenever we phoned
up with any questions or queries either before the
launch or in the first week or so, they absolutely
knew that we were a new user to the system and
had everything in place ready for us, so it was
absolutely seamless, it was just moving from one
system to another within the space of a day and it
was completely and utterly managed by Synergy
at their end.”
Excellent support and
Q How have you found the support from Synergy?
A “Support is absolutely fantastic. What has been
very, very useful is having a ‘School Partner’,
because Synergy responds so rapidly, it’s been
really useful having that one port of call. And for
me that’s not been about the technical side, but
it’s about having a Partner that knows our school
and who gets to grips and understands what we
want from the system in order to develop the staff.
Again, that is something I can’t put a price on.”
Real-time, day to day access
to critical information
Q How has Synergy informed and assisted middle
to senior management roles?
A “The biggest thing for me has been that it means
leadership are no longer just reactive, as they used
to be. I don’t get a half term’s worth of information
from the system and think we maybe should have
acted on that sooner. Now I’ve got Heads of Year,
Heads of Department, Senior Leaders all able to
react on the day at a particular time.
I can react instantly to anything that’s happening
having words with children, supporting staff as it
happens. I don’t have to wait, I don’t have a long
and laborious process, digging into the data. I can
literally click on the department, click on the Year View
and I can find all the information that I need to make
sure everyone is consistently and persistently meeting
the expectations for the day.”
Valuable cost and time savings
Q Has the school saved money through moving
A “We’ve definitely saved money. Just the parental
communication system and previous homework
system, together, cost far more than the whole
package with Synergy and we get far more from
Synergy than just those two alone.
it’s the time it has saved us also. Previously,
teachers had started to feel like they were
administrators. So it’s the time aspect certainly, but
for me, it is the accountability factor - everyone is
responsible for their own area of information and I
don’t think you can put a monetary value on that!”
Tangible, positive impacts
Q Has there been any significant changes to school
as a whole?
A “The reason we got the system in the first place –
behaviour. Strategically, I had a very clear vision for
what I wanted in school and Synergy has been able
to live up to our expectations of what we needed for a
system. For example, we have had an unprecedented
drop in the number of fixed term exclusions. We’ve
been noticeably higher in the national averages in
exclusions previously but because of how quickly I
can respond to situations we can intervene in time.
Consequently, it has enabled us to move forward
with other things that we have wanted to do for a
long time. We’ve been able to move a lot more quickly
simply because we have a system that will support
us in our objectives”.
Thank you to all at The Hollins for taking the time to
share their experiences of School Synergy.
Kevin Thomas and Vicky Fogg, School Synergy Partners