When moving from SIMS to Arbor, some of the language, page names and key areas will be named differently and may work differently from what you're used to.
In this article, we'll look at some of the areas in SIMS and their equivalent in Arbor that commonly cause confusion. Plus, we've included links to our guidance where you can find out how to get the most out of these areas in Arbor.
In SIMS, you would have managed the registers created for lessons in the Academic structure > Curriculum structure or Curriculum assignment, and timetabling in the Course Manager areas. In Arbor, you manage the lesson timetables from the Timetable area and these students in these lessons from the Enrolment area. Get started with these areas here: School Structure, Courses and Timetables
The Pastoral structure > Current structure area in SIMS shows you all your student groups. In Arbor, we have a special section in Students > Enrolments to see and manage which students are in which student groups for:
- Registration forms
- Year groups
- Custom groups
- Teaching groups
- Courses, classes, lessons - these student groups determine the students that are in your registers for attendance
You can even get reporting data on percentages of student demographics and enrolment numbers from here: Enrolment statistics. In Arbor the dates are dynamic so you can see and edit enrolments for past, present and future!
We refer to user-defined groups as Custom Groups in Arbor. These allow you to group students, guardians or staff together manually, or based on certain criteria you define, such as their % attendance.
You can then select custom groups on our out-of-the-box analysis pages across Arbor to filter down your data to just look at the custom group!
You can see more about using Custom Groups here: Create and use Custom Groups
You may have used the term 'Teaching group' in SIMS. This can be confusing when you move to Arbor, as a Teaching group is used to quickly enrol students who share the same classes into their registers.
However, TimeTabler also uses the term 'Teaching group' to refer to classes, so bear that in mind if you will be importing from TimeTabler.
You can see more about using Teaching Groups in Arbor here.
In SIMS, you may have used Nova T to schedule an 'alternative curriculum' for students who will be out of lessons. You'd then need to set up an Intervention in a separate area to track their progress against their goals.
In Arbor, this can all be done in one place with timetabling built-in using Interventions!
If you're in a Secondary school, you may be familiar with the Lesson Monitor area in SIMS. In Arbor, Attendance is managed all from the Attendance area - get started with this area here: Attendance
'Opening the register' is when the teacher manually clicks into the register to input the attendance marks, which they can do up to an hour before the session is scheduled to begin.
We refer to the 'Session mark' as the statutory roll call attendance mark. In Arbor, you set 'Roll Call times' across your whole school to determine which marks contribute towards your roll call attendance: Roll Call times
If you know a student or a group of students is going to be absent, you can easily add planned absences to fill the register with the right attendance code. These codes have been supplied by the DfE, so you can't add additional codes, but you can find more information about the available codes here: Attendance codes and how they count towards statutory attendance
Arbor attendance reports are usually called the same thing as in SIMS (such as with Persistent Absentees). Instead of creating a report in a special Reports area, you can just jump straight to the Students > Attendance > Absentees reporting pages for out-of-the-box pre-built tables, that you can easily filter using inbuilt demographic groupings like Pupil Premium vs Not: Attendance reporting and analysis
If you do decide that you want to build a bespoke report to share outside of Arbor, we have lots of pre-built reports you can just import into your site's Custom Report Writer: Creating common Attendance reports
The Conduct or Behaviour Management area in SIMS allows you to record behaviour. For an introduction on what you can do with the Behaviour area in Arbor, take a look here: Behaviour in Arbor
Behaviour in SIMS is where you log Achievement (the equivalent in Arbor are point awards) - In Arbor, achievement is most commonly used when describing assessment progress.
The Behaviour area in Arbor helps you keep track of positive and negative point awards and set up 'automatic behaviour workflows' to record incidents and follow-up with them with detentions, exclusions or communications with guardians.
In SIMS, the Report Cards area within Behaviour Management is used to track when students are on a daily report that teachers need to complete for each lesson of the day.
We don't have a specific area for this in Arbor, but you can see how to manage individual reports here: Can we track student daily behaviour report cards in Arbor?
In Arbor, the Report Cards area is where you can generate end-of-year or termly reports to share with guardians or students about their progress. You can see how this can be done here: Report cards
In SIMS, exclusions and suspensions are both added from the same place on the pupil record, or from the Exclusions page.
In Arbor, you'll find separate pages for the different types of exclusions in the Behaviour area. You can see our guidance on how to record these here: Fixed Period Exclusions and Permanent Exclusions.
Although the DfE switched to referring to Fixed Period Exclusions as 'suspensions' from Autumn 2021, we still refer to these in Arbor as Fixed Period Exclusions. Don't worry - censuses display both names so you can make sure you’re submitting the correct data.
In SIMS, you may have used the old Profiles area or used an assessment analysis tool called Discover. In Arbor, once you've set up and marked your assessments, we've already created the tables and graphs you need right in our Assessment Analysis area.
To start using assessments in Arbor, follow our guidance here: Getting started with Assessments. Be sure to take a look at our assessment glossary which will introduce you to the key assessment concepts in Arbor: Glossary of key terminology for Assessments
Running analysis in Discover requires you to start a data transfer, but in Arbor, any data entered into marksheets will immediately appear in your analysis pages!
In SIMS, you would have used Discover to generate bar charts or Venn diagrams of key student and demographic groups. In Discover, you can create a group to enable you to report on certain cohorts of students.
On all of the Assessment Analysis pages in Arbor, you can filter your data to only look at certain student groups, such as your Year 7 Pupil Premium students. If you do need to analyse a group of students that aren't already grouped together, you can always set up a Custom Group (called User Defined Groups in SIMS).
In SIMS, you would have used the Personnel area to manage information for your workforce, which is output in the Workforce census. For example, you'll have used the Salary and HR sections within the Tools section to manage the Annual increment or Salary updates for pay.
In Arbor, you can manage all your HR details for staff in the School > All Staff > HR Admin section - get started with this area here: HR, Contracts and Salaries.
For staff details like National Insurance (NI) numbers or Teacher numbers, we have a specific area where you can check and add in this missing information - the Staff section in School > Data > Data Quality Dashboard.
To manage the staff assigned to certain lessons when staff are away, you would have used the Manage classroom staff area. In Arbor, this is the School > All Staff > Cover area: Staff Absence and Cover
In the Person area in SIMS, you can see adults added to the system, including staff, guardians of students and other adults linked to students, such as Social Workers. For example, in the Agents section, you can see social workers. In Arbor, we have separate areas to manage different adults on the system.
Use the Students > Parents & Guardians area to manage adults linked to students in a parental capacity. You can see how to manage parents here: Guardian data
In School > All Staff, you can access staff profiles and other staff information. You can add new staff or update current staff members' details.
Use the School > Users & Security (called System manager in SIMS) to manage everyone who can log into Arbor.
- The Access Contol section is where you can choose which staff at your school have which roles, and which things they should be able to see and take action with. You can see more about managing staff access here: What are Roles and Permissions in Arbor?
- The Users area is where you can manage logging in rules such as password rules, Two-factor authentication and SSO.
- In the Data Retention area you can see any data we recommend deleting and action it.
It's important to note that everyone who needs to be able to log in must have their own profile with a unique email address. Without a unique email address, when logging in they may be logged into the wrong profile that also has their email address. Luckily, you can use our handy email address checker to remove duplicates.
When using SIMS, you may have used a third-party supplier called SchoolCloud to manage parents evenings.
In Arbor, we have an in-built area for this, called Guardian Consultations. You can read about how to use these in Arbor here: Parents Evenings (Guardian Consultations), and how this feature looks for guardians here.
The great thing about Arbor is that it's usually quickest and easiest to use the area of the system you want to report on rather than creating a report like you would have done in the Reporting area of SIMS.
In most areas of Arbor, you can find tables of data for reporting purposes!
For example, our attendance reports are usually called the same thing (such as with Persistent Absentees). Instead of creating a report in Reports, you can just jump straight to the Students > Attendance > Absentees reporting pages for out-of-the-box pre-built tables, that you can easily filter using inbuilt demographic groupings like Pupil Premium vs Not.
If you do decide that you need a bespoke report, you can use our Custom Report Writer. Just like in SIMS, you can use pre-built reports or ones you've designed. You can import a whole host of common reports from our Help Centre: Creating common Custom Report Writer reports
There aren't the same And and Or buttons as in SIMS, but you can still filter your data! Take a look at how this works in Arbor here: Using AND and OR filters in the Custom Report Writer. You can also schedule the report to be sent out and shared with other staff, or do custom calculations and conditional formatting.
End of Year procedures
At Arbor, we call the process of preparing for the new school year the New School Year Setup process.
In SIMS, this section would be where you would 'roll up' your registration forms, year groups, houses, classes etc. In Arbor, we refer to it as 'promoting' your student groups. You can see how the whole process works here: New School Year Setup help and guidance
In Arbor, you can end a student's enrolment at your school at any point in the year from the Enrolment section of their student profile, just like you would have gone to their Pupil Record > School History in SIMS.
But if you want to unenroll your leavers in bulk at the end of the academic year, you would have done this in Routines > Student > Leavers. In Arbor, this is done as step 2 of the New School Year Setup process, so your end of year processes are all done in one place!
You can even report on the students who've left your school, and send communications to them: See students who have left
Part of New School Year Setup process in Arbor includes adding the students to your site who will be joining you next year. Called Admissions or Pre-Admissions in SIMS, we refer to these students as Applicants, and you can manage this process in the Students > Applicants area.
You can even report on the students who've joined your school, and send communications to them: See students that have joined