Bromcom

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Bromcom Computers Plc
Type Public
Founded 1986 (1986)
Founders Ali Guryel
Headquarters London, United Kingdom
Website www.bromcom.com

Bromcom Computers plc is a British technology company. It provides schools and colleges with a Management Information System and handheld data capture devices to record and track pupil performance. It is the market leader in electronic registration systems for schools.[1]

History[edit]

Bromcom Computers Plc (Bromcom) was formed in 1986 by computer scientist, Ali Guryel, as a private company serving business-to-business alongside a sister company Frontline Technology Ltd. These companies were formed following the establishment of a sole proprietary company selling microcomputers as they were known at the time.

The initial entry of Bromcom into the education market was through the Education Reform Act 1988. Schools had been delegated local management and required their own "administration system".

In the early 1990s, EARS (Electronic Attendance Registration System) was created by Bromcom. This initially was an A4 computer folder for teachers to take pupil attendance electronically, replacing the traditional paper register. It caused sensation amongst the educationalists and was covered in the national TV and radio news and media and appeared in BBC TV's Tomorrow's World in January 1994.

In 1996 Bromcom enhanced wNET/Ears to include a number of new features - primarily Electronic GradeBook and the Two Way Link to SIMS Software. In 1998 Bromcom launched a new range of their computer folders with a larger LCD screen and PC-style QWERTY keyboard. The new range includes the Pro-PDA (Personal Digital Assistant), with the capability of being upgraded to the new Mini-LapTop. In the later models, the size was reduced to A5 size with models m-PDA. Bromcom then adapted Wi-Fi as the wireless standard to its full range of products e.g. x-PDA and Pro-xPDA including the v-PDA model with high resolution screen and backlight. The latest model is WebPDA which is browser and Wi-Fi based with colour touch-screen.

In June 2000 Bromcom launched a 'Parent Portal', MyChildAtSchool.com,[2] to enable pupil parents to access valuable information about their child's academic performance in real-time via the internet. This allows parents to monitor their child's attendance, lateness, grades, behaviour and can also see what homework their child has set.[2]

MyChildAtSchool.com was revised in 2009 with a new userface created by graphic designers. The parent portal complies with the Becta requirement for secondary schools to have an online reporting system in place.

In 2000 Bromcom launched the Bromcom e-School adapting e-commerce technology to schools. e-School brings automated online Internet-based data management of pupils across the school, to LEA/EAZs, to parents and to teachers working from home on their PC over the Internet.[2]

By the end of 2000, Bromcom introduced the PCMCIA/PC-CARD based on the PC-1340 PC Card to enable Windows-based laptops and handhelds to perform registration via the wNET network. The associated 'WinFolder' registration software now joined the well-established java-based jNET/jFolder as part of the company's multi-network software line. The following year saw the arrival of Bromcom's next generation registration computer folder, the SmartPDA. With an enlarged screen and a full laptop-style keyboard, the SmartPDA is the same size as the MiniPDA and also includes the ability to read contactless Smart Cards. The advantages of such a system have been described by the head teacher at Hollyfield school in Surbiton, Surrey. Mr Forward says: "the system saves a lot of time and stress." And,"It enhances the ICT ethos of the school for pupils to see every teacher using the computer in every lesson."[3]

Bromcom became the UK's first education company to adapt Microsoft .NET Framework based technology platform in 2001. The Internet technology, Microsoft.NET, enabled easier integration and hence better communication between schools, LEA's and parents.

In 2003, e-Markbook was created, an automatic and electronic tool integrating with the school's existing MIS system. This was closely followed by e-Behaviour, a software module to monitor and track pupil behaviour - both positive and negative via a points system. Once a certain number of points has been achieved, this will initiate a relevant follow-up action such as a certificate, a detention etc.[4] Examples of this system in practice include Rosemary Musker High School. The head teacher (John Lucas) commented that, The rewards system (e-Behaviour) has altered how pupils see themselves almost overnight. In 2004, Bromcom MIS (Management Information System) developments started and was completed in 2008, based on proven browser platform developed on Microsoft.NET technology since 2001.

Bromcom has been described by Becta as one of the seven largest suppliers of school management information systems

Corporate Affairs[edit]

Bromcom systems for accessing student's data require substantial interoperability directly with the schools Management Information Systems (MIS). Since the 1990s the most widely used MIS in the UK has been Capita's SIMS.

In 1999 Capita did not cooperate with Bromcoms request for improved interoperability in order to write back to Capita's database. In light of this, Bromcom took a complaint to the OFT, and sought OFT support to secure this cooperation. The OFT agreed with Bromcom that Capita was obliged to cooperate with Bromcom to provide the necessary interoperability. Capita agreed to cooperate, and provided documentation that allowed the means of writing back to Capita's database which was then a file-sharing database called Clipper.

Capita moved over to a Microsoft SQL database in 2003/4, and hence a new arrangement was required to provide interoperability. Bromcom charged Capita with abuse of its dominant position by its offer of a new interface "at an unreasonable price and on uncompetitive terms",[5] again referring the matter to OFT. The issue was settled through the OFT in May 2003 by Capita providing the required interoperability via a 'voluntary assurance'

In 2005, recognizing the serious issues posed by the overwhelming market dominance of SIMS and the lack of competition, Becta commissioned a report called "Management Information Systems and Value for Money".[6] Becta established a Schools Interoperability Framework (based on the model used in the United States) which education products could easily comply with and interoperate. The director of SIMS, however, claimed that the implementation of these standard interfaces would incur a significant cost to their software.

Bromcom Computers Plc has recently brought a case against Capita to the Office of Fair Trading, alleging that Capita has been abusing its dominant position.[7]

Bromcom has stated that Capita's charges for contracts and dominance in the UK schools software market has led to schools over paying by £75.4 million over a ten-year period. The complaint to the OFT follows recommendations made in 2005 by Becta's School Management Information Systems and Value for Money report, a number of which remain outstanding.[8]

In September 2010, Becta published a report entitled "School management information systems and value for money 2010" which was carried out by Atkins Ltd stating the impact on the MIS marketplace of statutory returns, interoperability approaches and the arrangements for the provision of local authority support. Their findings showed that the school MIS marketplace is "still uncompetitive..., still dominated by a single supplier, and still distorted due to the impact of the statutory returns process which increases costs to schools thus increasing the burdens on local authorities and mitigating in particular against smaller providers." [9]

Further to this, an article was published by TES (Times Educational Supplement) on 5 November 2010 entitled "80% of school IT systems are bought illegally." It stated that "Eight out of ten local authorities have bought education IT systems illegally, leaving schools open to a wave of legal action.",[10] and in a subsequent article dated 29 June 2011, stated "The report stated in a number of different ways that with a lack of competition from the market it is hard to see how the best interests of schools can be served."

"The DfE has taken this very much on board." [11]

This led to the creation of the IMLS Framework.

IMLS Framework[edit]

In March 2012, a new framework agreement was created in a £575m deal with the Department for Education. 18 suppliers have been appointed under the new framework, including Bromcom, Capita, Serco, RM and ScholarPack (Histon House Ltd). The agreement was set up by the Government Procurement Service on behalf of the DfE.[12]

Bromcom Computers plc were selected to be part of Lot 1 (officially recognised supplier of Information Management Systems) to schools as well as Lot 2 (officially recognised supplier of Learning (Platform) Services).[13]

Commendation from the DCSF[edit]

The DCSF have commented on Bromcom's achievements and contribution to the education sector. Stating that, "Frontline Technology Limited and Bromcom Computers Plc – have researched, developed and promoted electronic registration since the early 1990s. They played a part early on in raising the profile of electronic systems for better attendance management and in improving the services available to schools. The Department welcomes innovation and investment in education from commercial suppliers. The Department welcomes Mr Guryel's and his companies' restated commitment to helping achieve the Department's ambitious objectives for children and learners.

Awards[edit]

In January 1994 the wNET/Ears system won the Gold Award for Educational Technology at the BETT (British Educational Technology and Training) Exhibition at Olympia in London, awarded by the Minister of Education the Rt. Hon Eric Forth.

In 2001, Bromcom received The Queen's Award for Enterprise: Innovation. The announcement was made on the occasion of The Queen's 75th birthday. This award was made in recognition of Bromcom's innovation and sustained development in the education market.[14]

Other awards include:

  • 2003 Hot-100 High Growth Business - Dun & Bradstreet (ranking 87)[15]
  • 2002 Entrepreneur of the Year - The Times and Ernst & Young (semi finalist)[15]
  • 1994 Award for Technological Innovation & design - South Thames Business Award[15]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Phil Revell (2002-06-11). "Where's school, sonny?". The Guardian. Retrieved 2009-09-14. 
  2. ^ a b c "Net access to pupils' records". BBC News. 2000-06-25. Retrieved 2009-09-16. 
  3. ^ Gerald Haigh (2000-01-07). "Lap of luxury". TES. Retrieved 2009-09-25. 
  4. ^ Neil Munro (2004-08-20). "Rector keeps an electronic eye on kids". TES. Retrieved 2009-09-17. 
  5. ^ "Capita Business Service Limited and Bromcom Computers plc". Office of Fair Trading. 2003-05-02. Retrieved 2009-09-23. 
  6. ^ "Schools Management Information Systems and Value for Money". Becta. June 2005. Retrieved 2009-08-23. 
  7. ^ "75 Million Creamed from Schools". 2009-12-08. Retrieved 2009-12-18. 
  8. ^ Nick Mathiason (2009-12-06). "Capita billed schools £75m too much". The Observer. Retrieved 2009-12-18. 
  9. ^ "School Management Information Systems and Value for Money 2010". 
  10. ^ "80% of School IT Systems are Bought Illegally". 
  11. ^ "DfE Seeks to Break Firm's Stranglehold on Back-office IT". 
  12. ^ Gill Hitchcock (2012-03-28). "Department for Education signs £575m schools ICT deal". 
  13. ^ "Buying specific goods and services: Supplier listing". Department for Education. 2012-04-26. 
  14. ^ "The Queen's Awards For Enterprise: Innovation 2001". 2001. Retrieved 2009-09-17. 
  15. ^ a b c "Business Achievements & Recognitions". Retrieved 2009-09-17. 

External links[edit]