Online Booking for Parents and Carer Meetings
This term we road tested our online booking system for Parent and Carer Meetings and last night was our Year 10 Parents and Carers Evening. In addition to offering the online booking system we as also offered / encouraged departments to hold their appointments in their learning bases with decisions taken as a direct result of parent, carer and staff consultations (more privacy, parents and carers managing their own appointments, the opportunity to showcase student work). If you are considering a move to online booking, here are the steps we took, the feedback we picked up on the way, the lessons learnt. Big hat tip to Bradley Stoke Community School.
- Selected the Parents Evening System (PES) – selected for its simplicity, cost and because it was hosted.
- Branded the online booking system. Configured the settings and authentication requirements. Uploaded teachers (finding a number of sims errors to correct), students and classes. Two exports, 10 minutes work.
- Set up a ‘dummy’ parent and carer event. Created ‘How to’ documents. Admin training. Ran Staff training.
- Logistics; discussions with premises staff, rooming, catering, student guides / prefects. School map created for the event.
- Letter to parents and carers; for the reasons for change, ‘how to book appointments,’ infographic, outlined phone support, links on the website.
- Staff added ‘unavailability.’ A number of staff needed support.
- Opened the booking system and monitored parent accounts/student appointments. A number of bookings made over the phone, a few support calls made to assist parents.
- Text reminder sent to Yr 10 Parent 4 days before the closing date.
- On the event: Sign in sheets were created via the parent/carer list. (Not an official list but very useful. Parent merely had to tick name on arrival, very quick.)
- Signage for classrooms and staff.
After the event
- Signage for classrooms and staff collected.
- Parent account email and mobile phone number (parent/carer list) shared with admin to update SIMs.
- Reports showed 54.7% of parents made appointments. 51% signed in. 6 appointments per student, 15 per teacher.
- Teacher absent on the day – a copy of their appointments was printed and dropped into their pigeon hole. The expectation is they will follow up those appointments. This is a management task here of course.
- Marcus Fields and his team at (PES) have been outstanding. Customer service has been exemplary and they continue to listen and act upon our (and other schools) feedback.
- Parents/carers were very impressed with the online booking. All responses to the parent\carer survey said they preferred the online system to the previous student focused method. They found it easier and they could choose the appointments themselves rather than relying on the students who would ‘forget’ or ‘all appointment have gone’ by the time they see the teacher. They liked the email confirmation.
We also received a dozen feedback emails through the system, all positive, with one of two pertinent questions focusing on the issue of teacher unavailability. As a result we were able to sign post the welcome text and next year we will underline these instructions in the letter.
Such a better way to arrange appointments.
I would just like to tell you that the new system for booking parents evening is very good and easy to use. Its great this way I have control over the times instead of relying on daughter< to do this who would try to miss out the teachers that she knows might not have good things to say.
This is a much better process as it is very fast and easy.
- Our teacher SIMs data needed to be checked and corrected.
- Staff rooming should be confirmed manually updated before the booking system goes live. We had two late changes and had to share this information with parents/carer at sign in.
- Booking close date was set to the morning of the event. This seemed to work however we intend to bring it forward 12 hours / a day to give staff more time to prepare work to show parents/carers.
- We needed to support / check staff booking unavailability.
- Absences on the day need to be actioned swiftly- we need to confirm with parents/carers in a more professional way than currently available. We have asked Marcus if a teacher unavailability is updated and clashes with appointment, whether parents/carers can be informed. Currently this is a manual task either at the welcome desk or through admin.
- Parent/carer sign in was very swift and slick – no bottle necks.
- Rooming must be set and not changed.
- With the teachers uploaded, rooms allocated, we can now ‘manage’ a few changes to the teacher / room list, rather than having to request new information.
- Providing tea and coffee is the right thing to do however we need to communicate who refreshments are for. (Sign for catering, we kindly request refreshments are for parents and carers. Letter 4-6pm.)
- Request support from premises 3-4pm with setting up classrooms.
- Display banners moved to the sign in area.
- Add the college map to the website. With half the appointments in the main hall and half in classrooms, parents/carers found themselves criss-crossing the school. We can improve on this aspect.
- Meeting room configuration – More than 4/5, too crowded. 2, a little quiet and somehow lacked privacy was the feedback? We need to guide Directors of Learning on this issue. No more than 3 to a room. Meetings face the attendee outwards (facing away from other meetings.) Waiting chairs outside the classrooms, no within the classrooms.
- Schedules outside the classrooms were much appreciated.
- Teachers need to be able to see or updated on who has arrived as they are no longer able to ‘pop out and look over the sign in sheets.’ Marcus, could a tick box be added?
- 3 days before the closing the appointments, staff should be given a list of appointments and reminded that they too can book appointments with parents. Some staff indicated they were more disconnected from booking appointments in this system.
- Parents/carers highlight practical subjects where they saw their child’s work.
- Phone support was essential and immediately supported parent/carer difficulties with booking appointments – even if it was our first event and only a handful of calls.
- Administrator to speak with student progress and achievement managers – to seek key students and facilitate appointments.
- A number of challenging parent\carer phone calls were re-directed to making parents evening appointments. Having access to the system ment I could create an account and book appointments immediately. All SLT should have the ability.
- We need to tell staff about the hover over the appointment feature, it highlights comments.
- Appointments were still a little short, staff over ran. Travel time between appointments (together with the lack of a map) needs extending slightly. Extending appointment times to 10 mins has already been recommended by staff.
Verdict, 80% positive. We still have 10% we can improve with quick fixes outlined above and 10% improvement in the quality of the learning conversations and demonstrating of student work in particular a focus.