Using SharePoint as a tracking system to support Online Reporting to Parents.

September 25, 2009 by · 1 Comment
Filed under: Online Reporting, SharePoint, Twynham School 

One of the things many schools have moved over to in the last few years is full registration of tutor time electronically. Increasing numbers are moving over to also electronically registering individual lessons as part of the Online Reporting to Parents agenda. We are now a year into compulsory registration of lessons online having decided to make this data available to parents through our Parent Gateway. The big issue of course is teachers forget to register lessons. I certainly did yesterday with my year 11 class and with over 400 lessons a day at our school it only takes a small percentage of missed registers and data that parents are reading on the Parent Gateway has gaps.

How does a school combat this? Well for us we have two systems which work within SharePoint to act as reminders to staff. The first is an area on the Gateway which triggers when a lesson has not been registered. This is simply called ‘lessons not registered’ and appears in a very visible place opposite timetable and cover.

Lessons not registered appear on staff homepage

Lessons not registered appear on specific staff homepage- click to enlarge

When a teacher forgets to register a lesson the details will appear on their page in black. I mention the colour because if the register is not moved by the following day it  turns red to be more visable (and this genuinely works when we ask staff).

Of course in the busy times even a reminder on the site can be missed if a teacher is running around with full days. To help with this we have an administrator who spends 15 minutes a day sending out second reminders. How do they know who has not done their registers? On the Staff Homepage of SharePoint their is an area called lesson by lesson registration. By clicking on this the screen below appears.

Administrator tool to check lessons not registered- click to enlarge

Administrator tool to check lessons not registered- click to enlarge

This shows a calendar with 3 options, Key Stages 3.4 and 5. Clicking on a radial button the administrator can then click on a date and it brings all missed lessons up. The administrator then sends an email reminder out to staff. This has proved hugely successful in giving us near perfect data for parents and making single lesson truancy almost impossible.

Online Reporting to Parents Student Details

One of the Web Parts we have completed for Online Reporting to Parents is the Student Details. This has been available all year but I have not blogged about it as I would only be able to show you a blur given these are personal details. One of the developers at Twynham School has very kindly created a mock up to show the look and feel of the Web Part which can be seen below.

Student Details Web Part

Student Details Web Part

The Web Part is intended to be a simple reference for teachers when searching students so that they can quickly search for and contact a parent. At the same time when parents log in to the Parent Gateway they see their key details immediately. This ensures that parents are more likely to update us of their details if they move house or change numbers. Students can also see their own details when they log in to their ‘My Progress’ section.

Online Reporting to Parents Web Parts.

As we approach the end of the school year I thought I would return to a really important topic which will be top of the agenda in the next school year. I am of course talking about Online Reporting to Parents which must be completed by all secondary schools by the end of the next school year. At Twynham School we produced Online Reporting to Parents Web Parts for SharePoint two years ago before the government agenda. We have now made these available for sale in a partnership with Salamander Soft, a leading MIS/SharePoint Integration company. I have already written about the following Web Parts (see below 1-5) which have been produced for use with SIMS, Facility CMIS and now RM G2. Please click on the links below for a detailed set of blogs showing the specification of each Web Part.

  1. Timetable Web Part
  2. Attendance Web Parts
  3. Reports Web Parts
  4. Assessment Web Part
  5. Online Reporting to Parents page

Tomorrow I will start to cover the new Web Parts we have been producing to add to our current range and what we plan to be working on over the summer. If you would like further details in terms of annual licenses and installation you can contact me by email at

Achievement Show 2009 Presentation

The Achievement Show is up and running in the last 10 minutes and dozens of leading schools are now presenting throughout the Emirates Stadium. If you havent been able to make it this time I thought I would upload my presentation which will be running in the Technology Theatre from 11.45am. Consider this pre-release material!

View more OpenOffice presentations from mikeherrity.

Online Reporting to Parents- what does it look like at Twynham School

Continuing the Parental Engagement theme I wanted to look in further detail at Online Reporting to Parents. This is a huge government agenda launched in 2008 and all secondary schools will need to have a system in place by 2010 (primary schools by 2012). At Twynham School we have developed our Online Reporting system on SharePoint through the Parent Gateway. Our two SharePoint/SQL developers have pulled a wide range of data through from CMIS our MIS system in the form of web parts. These have been produced through discussion with students, parents and teachers to ensure they are educationally relevant.

On our Parent Gateway, when the parent logs in at the top right corner of the page will appear the ‘My Child’ section which lists all of the parent’s children at the school. Selecting one of the children brings up the Online Reporting page which looks like this:

Online Reporting top- click to enlarge

Online Reporting bottom-click to enlarge

The current set up covers a range of Web Parts which I have blogged on in February so rather than repeat this whole process, if you are interested in what exactly each of the Web Parts does it makes sense to link back to these posts. They are as follows:

I hope this is useful for colleagues who are looking to meet the 2010 deadline for Online Reporting to Parents. Since October 2008 we have been working with the MIS/SharePoint development company Salamander Soft to produce these Web Parts with integration from SIMS and are now moving on to RM G2. This has allowed us to make Online Reporting available on SharePoint for all MIS systems. If you have a SharePoint set up and would like to discuss purchasing these Web Parts for any MIS system please feel free to contact me by email

How clean is your MIS data? Getting your data ready for Online Reporting on the Parent Gateway

March 17, 2009 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Online Reporting, Twynham School 

During Parental Engagement week I wanted to share how we have rolled out our Parent Gateway to over 600 parents and the impact it is starting to have on their relationship with Twynham School. Just this afternoon I had a very encouraging email from a parent who simply said:


Thanks Mike for our login details, and congratulations on the Parent Gateway – this is a great facility and will really help us as to support Jessica at Twynham School.


It has been great seeing so many parents logging on to the Parent Gateway to support their children and becoming better connected within our community. What is particularly nice is to see all the hard work pay off by so many different staff at the school. This is perhaps the most unrecognised part of rolling out a Parent Gateway and so I thought I would share some thoughts in my next few posts on key focus points and pitfalls to avoid. Today I will focus on the importance of accurate data and although it already sounds dull I would identify this work as the single most important action in our Parent Gateway roll out.

The problem

How clean is your MIS data?! As an outstanding school with really good systems we were very confident that our data was spot on. We use Active Directory and an automated process from Richard Willis who runs a company called Salamander Soft to automate our parental login and passwords. This is a brilliant piece of work from Richard and I cannot recommend him enough. As children leave and join the school passwords and logins are created and deleted accordingly. What became apparent when we ran this script is we had massive numbers of duplicate login and passwords. Why was this happening? On closer inspection we had a significant issue with duplicate entries of parents on the system.

When parents second and third child onwards joined the school they often ended up with additional accounts related to each of their children with non of the siblings linked up. This can happen so easily for a number of reasons. Each time a parent fills in an entrance form if they enter subtly different data regarding their name or address then it may not link up. One parent called her self Jen, Jenny and Jennifer over 5 years as her 3 children joined the school and non of these accounts linked up. At the same time all of this data now comes from feeder schools in CSV files so that it can automatically be uploaded and the MIS system can do all the work setting the accounts up. This reliance on automation on one level is great but over time has led to a reduction in the rigour of checking accounts. As a result over a number of years multiple parent accounts emerged on the system.

The solution

Cleaning up your data.We spent a lot of time looking at different ways we could get the system to do the work for us and sort out this problem. The reality finally struck us that the only way to fix this problem was sheer hard work. Two fantastic members of staff spent over 80 hours cleaning through the data on our MIS and linked up hundreds of siblings from year 7-13 by multiple filtering. Why is this so important? Without this work we could not issue parents one unified login for all their children. Having cleaned through the data we have now reviewed our entrance form to ensure siblings are very clearly linked. Alongside the automated upload we have reviewed the checking process to ensure all entries are manually checked to link up siblings and clean up data which does not match.

If you would like a more detailed input on how to prepare your data for Online Reporting to Parents please contact me by email

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