The International School Utrecht in the Netherlands is an IB World School, offering the IB Primary Years Programme, Middle Years Programme and Diploma Programme to students aged 4–18. The school has been using ManageBac as its learning platform since 2012.
Curriculum-First Platform – “everything is there”
ISUtrecht’s Leader of IT Systems, Kostis Papadopoulos, has over a decade’s worth of experience using ManageBac across three different schools – valuing its comprehensive alignment to the IB curriculum and approach. For Kostis, it is “the only platform that offers the full package” for IB schools, where “other platforms are less reliable or missing some things”.
ManageBac is used to organise and document the school’s curriculum, to plan and update units, manage attendance, set homework and assignments, and deliver reporting – all while offering deeper insights into what is going on in the school. “Whatever is related to the curriculum in ManageBac, I think that is very well developed,” he explains. “It’s all there”.
Planning & Teaching
Kostis describes ManageBac as “user-friendly” – making onboarding teachers a straightforward experience, where they can rapidly get started with key activities, without reinventing the wheel each time. “It works very smoothly,” he adds.
In fact, Kostis has also made use of the platform during teacher evaluations: “It’s always about checking that the written curriculum and the taught curriculum align,” explains Kostis. “So, from that perspective, for the leadership of the school, I think it’s a great thing – you see how things are going. And for a teacher, it is clear what they should be doing in the class.”
This ability to see what needs doing in class is something that also resonates for Kostis in his additional role as a Teacher of Mathematics: “One of the most valuable things in my eyes is that it reminds everyone to use a lot of things which sometimes we don’t really want to pay attention to,” he says. Because ManageBac’s Unit Planners are fully aligned with the IB curriculum, integrating key criteria such as Approaches to Learning, they can help to keep educators on track in their unit planning: “we all need some kind of structure; I can’t remember everything!” he explains.
Student Support – “the best way to communicate with students”
The whole school community benefits from the structure that ManageBac provides, including its students: “they love it, it’s clear what they are doing”, says Kostis. In fact, ManageBac is the sole method of communication with students at ISUtrecht. “I think communication for the students through ManageBac is great”, says Kostis. “You have the tasks, or you have the deadlines, or just messages – I think it’s crystal clear.”
Reporting – “a piece of cake”
Instead of the “old-fashioned”, manual process of filling in comments and grades in a spreadsheet, transferring these into a document and printing them out, ManageBac offers a more streamlined, efficient system for reporting. “The moment that you have a platform where you can just type it in and then generate it, this is already a huge deal,” says Kostis. “I think the reporting is very clear, it’s very useful. You have a lot of options”.
One “super useful” function is the ability to preview draft reports in the platform – generating and tweaking individual report cards “until you have exactly what you need”, as well as continuously revisiting and improving core templates.
At ISUtrecht, parents have their own ManageBac login details so that they can access academic reports and also behaviour notes, and they are encouraged to do this alongside their children, who can help them to navigate the system and interpret any curriculum-specific terminology.
“For me, one of the most important things is the customer service – that’s where I see a big difference with other platforms,” Kostis explains. “The nice thing I like about ManageBac in general is that the customer service is very good. You know that there will always be someone to answer your questions and to help you.”
“I would definitely recommend it to another school,” he concludes.