Nestled on the second floor of an unassuming building in North Melbourne, you’ll find the River Nile School (RNS), an inspiring oasis of learning for some of the community’s most vulnerable young women. Beginning life as the River Nile Learning Centre (a body which still exists) in a church hall a few miles away in Footscray, RNS received school status two years ago, and has since seen a rapid growth in student numbers. While the first few years of any school can present difficulties, RNS faces a very different set of challenges to most. Each student carries their own complex story, and keeping accurate, up-to-date records is necessary to ensure the best possible management of wellbeing, provision of education, and compliance with funding requirements.
Initially staff managed the recording of individual student details using Excel, a process principal Lisa Wilson describes as ‘clunky’. Staff needed a school management system that would make collecting, storing and accessing student records easier, especially as these details enable the school to claim Commonwealth funding and are essential in the event that the school’s funding is audited. The school’s unique requirements even extend to something as essential as roll marking: while RNS is not formally required to keep records of attendance, staff at the school are often the only adults looking out for students, and in the occasion of an unexplained absence, locating their whereabouts is a matter of ensuring their wellbeing.
“Introducing Compass has been overwhelmingly positive in helping us streamline our student record keeping, taking us to that next level as a school.” Lisa Wilson, Principal.
Staff at the school began by asking educators at schools facing similar challenges what school management system they used, however the systems recommended did not quite meet the needs of RNS - either in terms of functionality or cost. A number of members of staff at the school were familiar with Compass - either professionally or personally, as parents of students whose schools use Compass. This familiarity lead them to invite Compass to deliver a demo to teachers, where it became clear that Compass offered the solution RNS required.
Compass have provided what Lisa describes as “the system we wanted, an eminently professional set up, done quickly and priced at a point that was unbelievable to us.” The school’s particular needs required rethinking aspects of the Compass platform, a process Lisa says was performed with expert attention. This is particularly noticeable with the school’s use of Chronicle, which creates a complete picture of each student’s unique and complex needs, rather than simply being used for behavioural observations. This picture then informs the funding RNS receives, and creates peace of mind for staff that the correct processes are being followed and recorded.
The school’s use of Compass is an ongoing process, which staff say they will continue to expand upon to meet their school’s unique needs - especially if it continues to grow at the rate it has been doing.