SOCS

A Message from Lord Pickles and Lord Blunkett, followed by SOCS's best practice article

The ability to listen and learn from one another has always been vital in parliament, in business and in most aspects of daily life. But at this particular moment in time, as national and global events continue to reiterate, it is uncommonly crucial that we forge new channels of communication and reinforce existing ones. The following article from SOCS is an attempt to do just that. We would welcome your thoughts on this or any other Parliamentary Review article.

Blunkett signature Rt Hon The Lord David Blunkett
Pickles signature Rt Hon The Lord Eric Pickles

www.misocs.com

THE PARLIAMENTARY REVIEW
Highlighting best practice
THE PARLIAMENTARY REVIEW
Highlighting best practice
14 | SOCS
Business Development Director:
James Kershaw-Naylor
SOCS supports over 600 school
competitions each year including the
Rosslyn Park National Schools Sevens
Today, the School Online Communication System – or SOCS –
is used by many of the world’s leading independent schools,
including Eton, Dulwich, Whitgift, Millfield and Radley. In
1997, however, as Business Development Director James Kershaw-
Naylor says, the platform was considerably different – in fact, it
started life as a schools’ rugby website. A browser and cloud-based
system, SOCS allows staff, parents and pupils to share the same
information through its calendar, co-curricular and sport modules.
When my brother and I were playing rugby at school, our parents, who were
enthusiastic supporters, struggled to navigate to and from the playing fields of
England and Wales. At the time, there was a dearth of information about where
to find the correct pitches and whether there were any last-minute cancellations
or team changes. While there were a range of software platforms for schools to
manage their academic provision, this simply did not exist for sport: there was no
way the sports coach could manage fixtures and communicate directly withparents.
My father, while a major in the Royal Engineers, had attained a master’s in
information systems at the Royal Military College of Science. In the 1990s, he
created schoolsrugby.co.uk. Using fixtures and results sent in by schools, on paper
and by telephone, schoolsrugby.co.uk hosted a database of all school fixtures
with map points showing their location. This allowed parents and spectators to
easily see which school was playing where, who they were playing and what the
final result was. Based on our own experience, we knew that there was significant
demand for a platform like this and we were proved correct: schoolsrugby.
co.uk quickly attracted millions of hits a year and is still going strong today.
FACTS ABOUT
SOCS
»Business Development
Director: James Kershaw-
Naylor
»Established in 1997
»Based in Newport
»Services: Cloud, SAAS
and web technologies
development
»No. of employees: 10
SOCS
15SOCS |
EDUCATION SERVICES
Over time,thewebsite expanded
and added new sports, evolving
from schoolsrugby.co.uk to become
schoolssports.com.
The turning point
From a commercial perspective, the
real turning point came with the
realisation that the software we had
developed to operate schoolsrugby.
co.uk could be licensed and provided
to schools. Schools were struggling to
communicate the volume of sports and
activities they offered, and suddenly
tech-savvy parents expected to be kept
up to date on their laptops and mobile
phones. Schools were investing in their
IT systems and digital presence, and
while they were spoilt for choice when
it came to academic management
systems, they were unable to
communicate with parents about the
sports and activities their pupils were
involved in.
In the early 2010s, schoolssports.com
rebranded as SOCS and we began
to sell our management systems to
schools. Today, SOCS has evolved into
a wider school calendar management
system and is now used in over
800 independent schools across 25
countries, with a strong presence
in South Africa and Southeast Asia
complementing the 500 schools we
have in the UK. We now work with
hundreds of state schools, academies
and free schools and see this area as a
huge growth opportunity.
Continually refining the
system
The SOCS system is modular and
covers sports management, activity
management and a school calendar
system. All three parts work
individually but when integrated
together, the benefits are huge:
schools have been able to upscale and
organise their activities programmes,
establish effective monitoring of
participation and feedback and reduce
the staff admin load. In order to keep
the system fresh, we are continually
rolling out new updates and modules.
The strength of the SOCS software lies
in its simplicity. As we have built such a
large network of schools, new schools
often don’t have to add any fixtures:
they may have already been uploaded
by the schools they are playing against.
The platform also allows for schools,
especially smaller schools, to post
fixture requests, helping to develop
their sports provision and specifically
strengthen their minor sports. Schools
can track participation and ensure that
no pupil misses out.
When we started building the system,
our focus was on communication
between the school and the wider
school community. Over time, and
as we began to license the platform,
we realised we needed to adapt
our approach. Many teachers who
led sports teams had very little time
and a lot of admin to complete so
we evolved the system to become
an internal sports and co-curricular
sports administration system. Teachers
already had to complete these tasks
and we provided them with a tool that
made this process simpler. A passion for grassroots
sport has developed into
a thriving business
The SOCS
system is
modular and
covers sports
management,
activity
management
and a school
calendar
system
BEST PRACTICE SPONSOR 2020
15SOCS |
EDUCATION SERVICES
Over time,thewebsite expanded
and added new sports, evolving
from schoolsrugby.co.uk to become
schoolssports.com.
The turning point
From a commercial perspective, the
real turning point came with the
realisation that the software we had
developed to operate schoolsrugby.
co.uk could be licensed and provided
to schools. Schools were struggling to
communicate the volume of sports and
activities they offered, and suddenly
tech-savvy parents expected to be kept
up to date on their laptops and mobile
phones. Schools were investing in their
IT systems and digital presence, and
while they were spoilt for choice when
it came to academic management
systems, they were unable to
communicate with parents about the
sports and activities their pupils were
involved in.
In the early 2010s, schoolssports.com
rebranded as SOCS and we began
to sell our management systems to
schools. Today, SOCS has evolved into
a wider school calendar management
system and is now used in over
800 independent schools across 25
countries, with a strong presence
in South Africa and Southeast Asia
complementing the 500 schools we
have in the UK. We now work with
hundreds of state schools, academies
and free schools and see this area as a
huge growth opportunity.
Continually refining the
system
The SOCS system is modular and
covers sports management, activity
management and a school calendar
system. All three parts work
individually but when integrated
together, the benefits are huge:
schools have been able to upscale and
organise their activities programmes,
establish effective monitoring of
participation and feedback and reduce
the staff admin load. In order to keep
the system fresh, we are continually
rolling out new updates and modules.
The strength of the SOCS software lies
in its simplicity. As we have built such a
large network of schools, new schools
often don’t have to add any fixtures:
they may have already been uploaded
by the schools they are playing against.
The platform also allows for schools,
especially smaller schools, to post
fixture requests, helping to develop
their sports provision and specifically
strengthen their minor sports. Schools
can track participation and ensure that
no pupil misses out.
When we started building the system,
our focus was on communication
between the school and the wider
school community. Over time, and
as we began to license the platform,
we realised we needed to adapt
our approach. Many teachers who
led sports teams had very little time
and a lot of admin to complete so
we evolved the system to become
an internal sports and co-curricular
sports administration system. Teachers
already had to complete these tasks
and we provided them with a tool that
made this process simpler. A passion for grassroots
sport has developed into
a thriving business
The SOCS
system is
modular and
covers sports
management,
activity
management
and a school
calendar
system
THE PARLIAMENTARY REVIEW
Highlighting best practice
THE PARLIAMENTARY REVIEW
Highlighting best practice
16 | SOCS
Key to developing the SOCS platform
was partnering directly with the schools
we worked with. We asked them about
the difficulties they were facing and
built the system around this, ensuring
it responded to their needs.
We continue to do this and are in
contact with many school staff on
how we can improve the system.
Through training and by providing a
user group platform to schools, we
ensure that our clients make the most
of all the benefits of the system and
how the workflows and processes
can improve and drive efficiencies. By
creating an encompassing platform,
which is continually updated based on
input from users, we have reached an
enviable market position.
The need for greater integration
Our major contemporary challenge
is the lack of integration across our
sector. During the first wave of
educational technology products,
everyone tried to develop a system
that could do everything a school
required. Given the complexity and
the number of tasks even small
schools have to manage, this quickly
proved unachievable. In response,
developers switched tactics and
a range of smaller, best-of-breed
solutions were developed. In order to
more fully address a school’s needs,
integration capabilities need to be
embedded in these platforms. The past
five years have seen the beginning
of the development of integration
schemes. These are not yet perfect
and more needs to be done to ensure
schools can join up different platforms
for different needs. There are now
multiple products whose sole purpose
is to help with integration, a symptom
that more work needs to be done to
join up the dots for schools.
As we look to the future, we are
planning to further our international
growth. Independent British education
is being exported all over the world
and many independent schools are
establishing satellites abroad. This will
bring huge opportunities for us. By
targeting these emerging markets,
especially in Australia and the US, we
are confident we can increase SOCS’
international presence while retaining
the friendly, small company feel that
has driven our growth so far.
Our major
contemporary
challenge is
the lack of
integration
across our
sector
The SOCS team

www.misocs.com

This article was sponsored by SOCS. The Parliamentary Review is wholly funded by the representatives who write for it. The publication in which this article originally appeared contained the following foreword from Rt Hon Elizabeth Truss.

Rt Hon Elizabeth Truss's Foreword For The Parliamentary Review

By Rt Hon Elizabeth Truss

Even by the standards of the day –this has been one of the most exciting and unpredictable years in British politics.

The leadership election we’ve just seen marks a huge moment in our country’s history. This government is taking a decisive new direction, embracing the opportunities of Brexit and preparing our country to flourish outside the EU.

As international trade secretary, I’ll be driving forward work on the free trade agreements that are going to be a priority for the government. Free trade isn’t just an abstract concept bandied around by technocrats. It is crucial for a strong economy and for the ability of families to make ends meet. Free trade benefits people in every part of our country, as British firms export to new markets and people doing the weekly shop have access to a wider choice of goods at lower prices.

The essence of free trade is in the title: freedom. It’s about giving people the power to exchange their goods without heavy government taxation or interference. Commerce and free exchange are the engine room of prosperity and social mobility. I’m determined to tackle the forces who want to hold that back.

One of my priorities is agreeing an exciting new free trade deal with the US, building on the great relationship between our two countries and the Prime Minister and US President. But I’ll also be talking to other partners including New Zealand, Australia and fast-growing Asian markets.

And with the EU too, we want a friendly and constructive relationship, as constitutional equals, and as friends and partners in facing the challenges that lie ahead – a relationship based on a deep free trade agreement. Our country produces some of the world’s most successful exports, and the opportunity to bring these to the rest of the world should make us all excited about the future. It is this excitement, optimism and ambition which I believe will come to define this government.

For too long now, we have been told Britain isn’t big or important enough to survive outside the EU – that we have to accept a deal that reflects our reduced circumstances. I say that’s rubbish. With the right policies in place, we can be the most competitive, free-thinking, prosperous nation on Earth exporting to the world and leading in new developments like AI. To do that, we’ll give the brilliant next generation of entrepreneurs the tools they need to succeed. Since 2015, there has been a staggering 85 per cent rise in the number of businesses set up by 18 to 24 year olds – twice the level set up by the same age group in France and Germany. We’ll help them flourish by championing enterprise, cutting taxes and making regulation flexible and responsive to their needs.

As we do that, we’ll level up and unite all parts of the UK with great transport links, fibre broadband in every home and proper school funding, so everyone shares in our country’s success.

2019 has been the year of brewing economic and political revolution. 2020 will be the year when a revitalised Conservative government turbo charges the economy, boosts prospects for people across the country, and catapults Britain back to the forefront of the world stage.



Rt Hon Elizabeth Truss
Secretary of State for International Development