This section provides information on CASPA from a technical perspective, and is aimed at IT professionals based either in schools or at the Local Authority.
A technical overview of CASPA
CASPA has been designed to be as simple and robust as possible and has proven itself over the years to be extremely reliable and require very little technical support. CASPA is exhaustively tested before every release as we have every incentive to ensure that support requirements are minimised; as a result, we receive few technical queries and decisions about purchasing and installing CASPA are rarely driven by technical issues.
CASPA is designed for networked installation and supports multi-user operation; for more information on how CASPA caters for schools with separate admin and classroom networks, see Installation types, below.
CASPA is a native Windows 32-bit executable and installs to a single directory tree, with no registry settings and no dependencies on external runtime libraries. No separate work-station installation of CASPA is required; enabling other users that can access the installation location to make use of CASPA simply requires creating a short-cut on their desktop. For information on running CASPA under operating systems other that Windows, please see the sections ‘Running CASPA on an Apple Mac’ and ‘Running CASPA under Linux’, below.
CASPA makes very few demands on IT infrastructure but the following are required:
- Disk usage: Actual disk usage varies according to volumes and types of data but in any case is relatively small. Installed size is approximately 32Mb. A usual installation with, say, 5 years of results, targets and a range of evidence will usually require less than 60Mb
- Minimum screen resolution: 1024×768
- 96 dpi display
- Operating system: Win2k or above
We take the security of your data very seriously. All CASPA database files are encrypted to ensure that access to information about your pupils is possible only via the CASPA application.
CASPA has a number of levels of security over and above a school’s PC and network-level security and uses a scheme supporting individual user names and passwords, with an extended range of role-based privileges; by granting appropriate privileges to users, users will be able to view and report on data within CASPA but will have their ability to change data restricted to the most appropriate level.
At the database level, the database files have their own encryption key which is not related to any passwords that users can create. The database files require a specific application to open them (CASPA) which in itself requires users to log in with their passwords. Database files cannot be opened by simply knowing or discovering a password. A determined violator would need to obtain the database engine and possess the encryption key so CASPA database files can only be opened by logging into CASPA with an account created for that installation. In addition, the encryption key is not included in CASPA’s database files and therefore cannot be extracted by using any form of password cracking software.
Whilst CASPA does include surname, forename, category of need, etc, it does not include other, perhaps more secure, details such as home address, phone number, etc.
How CASPA is delivered for distribution
CASPA is distributed as a download from our website using an installer to guide users through the few steps required to register CASPA.
During installation, a wizard guides you through the process, and two documents are recommended for reading, which you can review here:
Delivery of updates to CASPA
Updates to CASPA are published periodically to deliver new functionality and, occasionally, to correct errors and access to updates and enhancements to CASPA is included under the annual licensing arrangements for CASPA. Updates are made available via our update servers.
CASPA includes built-in ‘Check for updates…’ functionality that will periodically check whether updates are available and, if found, these will be downloaded and installed automatically. To support those instances where firewalls or security policies prevent applications connecting to the Internet, a fall-back ‘manual updates’ option is available. Support for authenticating proxy servers is included.
Types of CASPA installation
To allow CASPA to work with the full range of IT infrastructure found in schools, e.g. separate administrative and classroom networks with no inter-connectivity, CASPA offers a number of installation types, as follows:
- Main Installation: every school must have one main installation of CASPA, which is usually installed to a backed-up location on the school’s admin server. Installing CASPA to a location from which the school MIS is accessible allows data to be read from your school MIS and allows the Admin Officer to handle the entering and maintenance of assessment results and targets. Access to CASPA can be enabled from any computer that can access the installation location by the creation of a short-cut. Where there is a single network accessible from class-rooms, teachers can be granted appropriate rights to allow them to access CASPA; where the class-room network is completely separate to the admin network, data can be exported from the Main installation of CASPA to either a Classroom installation located on a curriculum network or a Guest installation of CASPA to allow broader access to CASPA, as described below.
- Classroom Installation: where access to CASPA is required on a network that is physically separate from the network hosting the Main installation of CASPA, a Classroom installation can be created. The Classroom installation imports read-only assessment data from a Main installation and allows this data to be viewed and reported on, and also allows teachers to maintain and view multi-media evidence supporting assessment results.
- Guest Installation: CASPA can also be installed in a completely read-only form, for example on a laptop, to allow read-only assessment results and targets transferred from the Main installation to be viewed and reported. Such an installation may be useful for a headteacher wishing to analyse data, or to allow a SIP or Adviser to access a school’s data.
To view a PDF document that illustrates a typical installation using these three installation types, click here.
Running CASPA on an Apple Mac
Whilst CASPA is a native Windows 32-bit executable and therefore will not run directly under the Macintosh operating system, we are aware that many schools are successfully running CASPA on Macs via products such as Parallels Desktop or VMWare Fusion.
Running CASPA under Linux
Whilst CASPA is a native Windows 32-bit executable and therefore will not run directly under Linux, any Windows application should be capable of running on Linux using Wine; please note, however, that the operation of CASPA under Linux is not warranted. For more information on Wine, please refer to www.winehq.org