Preparing your Learning Platform for Parental Engagement

March 16, 2009 by · 2 Comments
Filed under: Online Reporting, Twynham School 

As promised I would like to spend this week talking about all things Parent and in particular the use of learning environments in Parental Engagement. Twynham School has spent 18 months working on a Parent Gateway and carefully rolling out a process to ensure that we are meeting the needs of our parents. Our work on parental engagement started in October 2007 when we first thought about involving our Parents in the Gateway we had created. Our first and most important task was to meet with parents to find out what they would use the Gateway for. Remember this is the same process we used with students and it is always essential to start any development with the end user first. Here is what our Parent Gateway home page looks like.

 

Parent Gateway- click to enlarge

Parent Gateway- click to enlarge

We have started with a fairly simplistic interface at the beginning and plan to gradually grow functionality in the next 18 months. The key is to start with core information which is useful to the majority of parents. For our Parents Focus Group newsletters, school visits and extra curricular information were the most pressing needs.

Extra Curricular Activities- click to enlarge

Extra Curricular Activities- click to enlarge

PE Fixture List

PE Fixture List

When this was completed we needed to think about setting up and testing the environment with a small group of parents. Because we planned to share data about students to their parents we started our test with members of staff who had children in the school. This allowed us to ensure that the right data was being pulled through to the correct parents before rolling out to ‘external’ parents. After 2 months of testing we then rolled out to our 50 mentoring group parents last January. We now have over 600 parents who have signed up to the Parent Gateway and will have all parents online by this September.

ICT Register- sharing and finding good practice

February 20, 2009 by · 1 Comment
Filed under: Online Learning, Online Reporting 

How can you find out what good ICT practice exists in schools throughout the world? Perhaps the most effective resource available on the internet is the ICT Register. Created by the SSAT in association with BECTA the ICT register showcases best practice in ICT in education. You can apply to join the register if you have particular strengths you wish to share. If you are looking for support in ICT you can search for a school with particular strengths and request further input.

 The main ICT Register themes this year are:

  1. Parental Engagment
  2. Self Review
  3. Learning Platforms
  4. E-safety

Online Reporting to Parents Report Viewer

February 10, 2009 by · 3 Comments
Filed under: Online Reporting, SharePoint, Twynham School 

To finish the series I have been running on our work to meet the 2010 agenda for Online Reporting to Parents I wanted to show you what we have done with reports. These are perhaps the most informative piece of feedback parents receive in the year but the traditional delivery method can creates a number of problems. How many of the reports never make it home? The only way to get anywhere near 100% of reports to parents is post them out (far too expensive) or reply slips which take up hundreds of hours of admin time in a school. The other issue is how well read are the reports and how are they stored? For all of these issues having reports available online anytime anywhere with a secure login makes a lot of sense.

Annual Report Web Part

Annual Report Web Part

 

The image above shows the web part interface when a parent logs in to the Parent Gateway. A parent can click on any of the years to see reports across the whole time the student is present at school. Now that we have seen the 5 major web parts we have produced it is worth seeing them all together in context. Our parents and students can access the ‘My Child’ or ‘My Progress’ in one click and the view they see is as follows.

'My Progress' page top

'My Progress' page top

'My Progress' page bottom

'My Progress' page bottom

All of our Web Parts work on both CMIS and Capita SIMS. If you are interested in using the Web Parts on your SharePoint site then you can contact me at mike.herrity@twynhamschool.com

Online Reporting to Parents ‘My Grades’

February 9, 2009 by · 1 Comment
Filed under: Online Reporting, Twynham School 

Over the last week I have been talking about the web parts we have been producing to support the drive for Online Reporting to Parents. Undoubtedly our most popular web part so far has been the ‘My Grades’ web part. The idea behind this is that parents, students and teachers can track the progress of a student across a whole Key Stage.  Throughout the period parents would normally receive a series of reviews and reports but these would be sent out via students. Connecting the data together has been the major issue here in terms of tracking the progress of students. This is where the ‘My Grades’ web part comes in.

'My Grades' web part

The example above shows the  grade progression for a student in KS4. Their subject and target grades are pulled directly from the MIS system into our web part. When a report or review is completed by teachers it will appear in real time to students and parent. Grades which are one or more below target are shown in red and those grades above target are shown in green. One of the biggest challenges is the real time nature of this activity. Do we want students and parent to look at review grades and reports before they have been checked? At present we have opted for a delay period before the information is made available to students and parents. What is interesting is the reaction of students before we set these controls up. Students do care about their grades and would come in early in the morning (or log in at home) to see which new grades were available. We even had students assking teachers in lessons- when are you going to put my grades on! A nice challenge to have to deal with.

Using SharePoint to send text messages

February 7, 2009 by · 1 Comment
Filed under: Online Reporting, SharePoint 
How many schools are now s ending text messages to parents? This seems to be a growing trend within schools largely to inform parents of absence. For me the real power of text messages is not only in absence reporting but in updating parents on other key information such as reports being sent home or a parents evening. Twynham School currently has an SMS solution which we have used but this is not in SharePoint. Over the last 3 months we have been looking at what options exist for integrating text messaging and in my email inbox today could be the answer.
S P Web parts contacted me to announce that they had created an SMS solution which runs through SharePoint. The cost for one of their products (they also offer email and word solutions) is £520 and it may be an ideal product to add further customisation to your SharePoint set up. I have contacted Paul from S P Web parts and chatted through what the product does and we will hopefully trial the product and let you know our thoughts. My only reservation with SMS solutions is the cost of individual messages. These still remain very high for me at 8p a text. You purchase these from a third party and sending one txt message to 1,000 parents would cost you £80. If I sent 100 messages out to 1,000 parents in a year the cost would be £8,000. This may be the only barrier to what might be a great solution.
SharePoint interface for SMS Webpart

SharePoint interface for SMS Webpart

Online Reporting to Parents-Attendance Web parts

February 3, 2009 by · 1 Comment
Filed under: Online Reporting, SharePoint, Twynham School 

Yesterday I introduced our work developing Web parts for SharePoint 2007. After our first Web part, The ‘My Timetable’ Web part we moved on to looking at student attendance at school. This is a crucial area with government statistics showing a 15% drop in attendance (from 100%-85%) reduces a student’s GCSE outcome by 1 grade on average. To start with we wanted to show student attendance in morning and afternoon registration. Having learned a lot from their early Web part development Chris and Darren our developers managed to create a ‘My Tutor Time Attendance’ Web part within weeks. We have developed this work with Richard Willis from Salamander Soft to include headline statistics and the final product is here.

'My Attendance' Web part

As well tutor time attendance in June 2008 we had a request from our Sixth Form to produce a Web part for lessons. The main driver for this was the fact that our year 13 students are not always required to attend tutor time and so keeping tracks on them was proving difficult. Although most students were attending all the time some were slipping through the cracks and so an easy way of monitoring lesson attendance was essential. The result is shown below- ‘My lessons’ attendance.

My Lessons Attendance

My Lessons Attendance

The impact of these Web parts has been significant in the school. Tutors and Heads of Year as well as teachers are able to track students in the school and measure how often the attend lessons. Now that we have rolled this work out to students and parents we are able to encourage them to take responsibility for ensuring they are successful at school.

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