The WordPress platform has come a long way since it’s inception in 2003 to become a powerful contender not just as a website builder but as a comprehensive solution to e-commerce, learning management and even full-fledged school management. It wasn’t that long ago that you could only set up a blog or simple site with WordPress but today the limit is pretty much your imagination. In this article, we’ll look at the best WordPress school management plugins that allow you to manage a physical school with varying degrees of complexity. As we’ll see, these plugins give you tools that you’d otherwise pay thousands of dollars for to get a comparable feature-set if you were to buy specialised software from school vendors.
WPSchoolPress is a comprehensive school management plugin that you install and use inside your WordPress website as opposed to other plugins that you integrate with external services. It utilizes the Twitter Bootstrap framework to provide a responsive backend interface, which is a big plus for customisation since it is such a well-known design framework.
WPSchoolPress has built-in user roles that you’d normally need for a school including admins, parents, teachers, and students and you can add other roles that are custom to your school set up.
WPSchoolPress core plugin is free to use and has several paid add-ons for things like data import/export, SMS messaging, and front-end registration forms.
WPSchoolPress provides custom development services, which is great when you need to extend some of the features provided with the plugin. If you’re a developer, you’ll find this plugin very customizable using WordPress hooks and template override features that make it possible to render your school data in custom ways on your website.
The demo feature on WPSchoolPress allows you to try out the plugin before you set it up on your own site and decide if it meets your needs. Just visit their website and you’ll be able to try out the demo.
I really like that the core system is free, so you can install it and test it out before committing to purchasing additional capabilities. WPSchoolPress is the closest fit to the typical WordPress model where the core platform is free, enabling you to get up and running at no cost, even if you can’t do absolutely everything.
School Management System for WordPress
The School Management System for WordPress plugin is a simple full-service school management tool that packs more features as standard than WPSchoolPress. Not only does this plugin come with user roles and attendance management features, but it also includes these extra features that come in very handy for managing your school system:
- Report card prints and PDF exports
- Support for 7 payment gateways
- Performance reports
- SMS messaging integration
- Support for multiple languages
- Integration with WPLMS Learning Management System for online learning
The School Management System for WordPress is only offered as a paid plugin for $49 USD (as of the time of writing) through Code Canyon. While a free version is not available to trial, a live demo is available online via their Code Canyon page. Given the feature set, you get a lot for your money with the School Management System for WordPress.
This plugin integrates with other tools that would be handy for a school including the School App (both for iOS and Android) and WPLMS Learning Management System (LMS) for WordPress.
Compared to WPSchoolPress, their interface isn’t as polished and may lead to some front-end theme styling issues since they don’t utilise a common CSS framework. However, a good developer should be able to help you with any issues that do arise. The backend of the School Management System for WordPress does run through the standard WordPress dashboard, so it is more familiar for WordPress users than WPSchoolPress that has its own dashboard separate from the WordPress one.
Support of this plugin has been reported by some users to be a bit slow in resolving issues. However, with 914 sales and a user rating as of the time of writing at 4.05/5 based on 41 entries, it appears users are generally pleased with the product. I had a couple of questions and got responses within a couple of days. Not super fast, but not terrible either.
Easy Student Results
The Easy Student Results plugin is slightly different to the other options as it does not provide a full school management suite of tools but rather focuses on exam results and everything else that is tied to these results in one way or another. This plugin is a great choice for schools that have an existing internal-facing system but want to have an online management tool just for exam results and facilitating student access to those results.
Easy Student Results comes with some excellent features focused on that exam results functionality, including the ability to search for results, unlimited students, courses, and results and a detailed settings page for customisation.
Easy Student Results is a free plugin and there are upgrade options in the form of premium add-ons. Depending on your unique needs, these add-ons are helpful:
- Advanced search – This is an extended version of their basic search allowing students to search by exam name, a year or registration number,
- Grades entry on the frontend – Allow teachers or other members of faculty to enter grades from the frontend of the website and limit how much they can edit.
- Custom results field – Add custom fields to the results section that may be specific for your school.
Because this plugin focuses on student exam results, it may not be the best school management plugin for WordPress if you want a comprehensive management solution. It is also one of the less polished solutions. The plugin developer does offer custom development services if you need to extend the functionality. However, if you do need to extend the platform further, you might be better off looking at a more comprehensive solution from the outset.
Ekattor School Management System
Ekattor School Management System differs from the other plugins we’ve looked at so far in that it comes as a stand-alone PHP application rather than running through WordPress. That said, a WordPress plugin was available for some time. Ekattor School Management System has done very well on the Code Canyon scripts marketplace and this speaks to the quality of this application. It has been in use for over 5 years and has received continuous improvement over that time with regular updates and responsive support.
Ekattor School Management System comes as a paid plugin only. You can purchase it at Code Canyon for $45 USD as of the time of writing. There are no premium add-ons and no free trial version, but a public demo is available via their Code Canyon page.
Ekattor School Management System is easily the most feature-rich plugin on the list. This plugin is broken down into these feature sets:
- API feature sets
According to some reviews on the Code Canyon marketplace where Ekattor School Management System is sold, some customers had issues with code quality and subsequent performance of this plugin. This is not unusual for applications that try to offer a lot of features. This is something to consider especially if you’re on shared hosting where you don’t have a lot of server resources. That said, it has 2,835 sales as of the time of writing and achieved an average 4.29 stars from 239 reviews, making it one of the most used and well-rated school management systems at this price point.
Another standalone system with similar features but at a slightly higher price is iNilabs School Express. iNilabs School Express has never had any WordPress integration that I can find so I won’t go into it here, but if you are going the standalone route, it is definitely another option to consider with more than 1,000 sales and an average user rating of 4.33.
We’ve looked at the best WordPress School Management plugins available today, including their strengths and possible issues as well as an alternative approach using a school management system that runs independently of WordPress. Given that you’ll be using your chosen plugin for a long time, it’s a good idea to spend some time testing each system to ensure it allows you to do what you want to do. Whenever possible try out the demo account provided for each of the different types of user account and contact the developers with any questions you have so you can make an informed decision.
As we researched this for one of our clients, we concluded that Ekattor School Management System was the best fit for them. However, it only took a quick email to the developers of WPSchoolPress about one of our needs that their platform didn’t seem to cater for to find out that they did actually have the functionality we needed, making it a better overall fit.
Tried any of the platforms I mentioned or found another one that you love? Help out other schools and let me know what you are using and why in the comments below!
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