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Tips for a Terrific Term 1

December, 2017

The heat is on and the pressure’s high!

We understand how busy this time of year can be and there is still plenty to do. While we’re all looking forward to getting a break during the holiday season, the team here are not going to take our foot off the gas until we get done what needs to be done.

Here are some ideas that could help you for the beginning of the new school year.

Considerations for Term 1

A helping hand

Did you know you can add pre-enrols to your School-links system and include them in your end-of-year/beginning of Term 1 communications? Manually add them as Caregivers or Associates and make sure you include them in the relevant groups. You’ll need to manually remove them after school starts but that’s not hard. If you need to know more please contact the helpdesk.

If your School-links data is up-to-date then you’ll be able to use the School-links app to send relevant texts for the start of the new year. Download the School-links Emergency Alerts App from iTunes or the Google Play store. Then you can send a text message to remind your school community about stationery purchases/requirements, uniform shop sales/times, start dates for T1 2018 etc, all from your mobile phone (anytime, anywhere).

If you haven’t downloaded the app yet, then you can still send texts or emails from your computer on the School-links portal. Log in and go to Messages > Create Message > Send a text and/or email or both.

It would be a good idea to update your School-links data just prior to school finishing so the most up to date data will be there if you need to send out messages over the holiday break.

There’s nothing like having students turn up on the right day and being prepared, and those pre-term communications are a great way to welcome your students and set them up for the school year.

New communication platform – Beep

Sometime near Term 1, you might notice a few new options in School-links when you send messages. Don’t panic — you can still send out texts and emails as you did before — only now, you can choose to send smartphone push notifications (we call them Beeps).
Find out more about Beep.

Using Parent Interviews Module to set up Uniform Shop allocated times

For schools or centres using School-links Parent Interviews module, are you aware you could use this to set up dates and times for the Uniform Shop, and publicise it prior to the close of school? Just ask if you need more information on this.

Reduce stress levels in an emergency

Whether it be to alert parents after an earthquake or during a lockdown, it is important to have the ability to contact your school community fast and efficiently. The School-links Emergency App and platform enables remote access from school management smartphones to send bulk text alerts to all your parents, staff and students, quickly and securely – in under 30 seconds.

So how does it work? Watch the video here.

Parent Interviews updates for the New Year

There are some updates coming up for Parent Interviews in the New Year that will be of value to current and new users alike. Aside from some enhancements to the look and feel there will be at least one major new feature.

We expect that you will be able to set up interviews where more than one family can book the same time with a teacher. This is something that has been requested by schools who run student-led conferences with multiple families in the classroom at the same time.

If you’re not a current user of Parent Interviews please ask how we can make it part of your plan.

What areas will require updating for 2018?

One of the questions we get asked in the new year is, “what about updating last years’ data?”. If you have been uploading your data file to School-links then you will continue to do that. The standard data upload CSV files sent into School-links will update existing data with new year levels and rooms, as well as any contact detail changes, and leavers will be identified and deleted. All you have to do is upload the datafile as per usual. If you entered anyone manually into School-links, they will remain in the system. They can then be edited or deleted manually; the system will not automatically touch them.

If you have any support issues or need assistance with any of the above areas, have any questions or would love a chat with Keith or Kim, then contact the support desk Toll Free 0800 333 480, or email: [email protected]. They are always eager to assist.

Don’t get caught out! – Email addresses

If an email address in School-links is entered incorrectly it will show “email bouncing’ next to the name in the Caregivers/Teacher lists (under Users & Groups), as the email address has been returned as not valid.

Common issues schools should be aware of when entering (pre-) enrolment data is that:

  1. gmail addresses are always gmail.comnever gmail.co.nz. It will return as undeliverable if you use gmail.co.nz.
  2. gamil.com is a common typo of gmail.com
  3. Xtra addresses are xtra.co.nz, not extra.co.nz
  4. Vodafone has closed down its email services as of 30 November 2017. Affected email domains include clear.net.nz, paradise.net.nz, vodafone.co.nz, vodafone.net.nz, and ihug.co.nz. To ensure delivery of emails you should get caregivers/staff to provide their replacement email addresses. While Vodafone is forwarding emails from the old addresses to the new ones, it’s best to use the new ones. Further information is available here.

How parent engagement can help with attendance management

July, 2017

How parent engagement can help with attendance management

The recent Ministry of Education report on student attendance rates, also highlighted that Maori and Pasifika students had the lowest attendance rates, with only just over 50 per cent, of these students regularly attending school.

While this is alarming, unfortunately this is not new information. Research into the subject shows that there are a number of factors that play a part in this, but one thing that schools can do to improve student attendance rates is to increase parent engagement with the school and encourage a more culturally inclusive school community.

Is your school putting in enough effort to include parents?

The key influencing predictor to parent support of their child’s learning is not parent or child behaviour or attitudes, but the school’s behaviour and attitude. When parents feel that the school is actively trying to involve them, they generally respond by becoming more involved in their child’s education. You can read one of our previous blogs to see how you can encourage parents to connect.

Unlock the parent potential

As always, communication is the key here. Communities are about relationships. Relationships are about communication. Help your students’ parents feel included and find their identity within their child’s school life through effective, regular communication.

To learn more about effective parent-school communication and strategies to involve parents at school, download the white paper.

Importance of parent engagement for schools

How to empower parents to help reduce truancy in New Zealand

July, 2017

How to empower parents to help reduce truancy in New Zealand

Is Early Notification absent at your school? Increase parent awareness of truancy by keeping them informed with easy communication apps.

A recent Ministry of Education report showed that student attendance rates were falling across New Zealand. 76,500 students were away from school each day in 2016. That equates to 10.2 per cent of students, up from 9.9 per cent in 2015.

Truancy costs schools significant time and resources

For schools that don’t have an early notification system in place and have to follow up on absent students manually, this rise in unexplained absences will also require an increase in time and money spent locating these absent students. For example, a school with a roll of 1000 students with a 10.2 per cent truancy rate can cost the school $20,400 per year in time spent following up and making phone calls. You can see for yourself what this could equate to for your school by using this calculator.

As well as potential significant cost savings to your school by having an early notification attendance management system, there are many other benefits such as student safety and providing a quicker and more convenient method for parents to be aware and respond.

Benefits of Early Notification for parents and caregivers

  • Fast notification of absence (which could potentially be a child safety issue).
  • Parents and caregivers can respond quickly and cost effectively.
  • It’s less embarrassing for them to respond to a text than a phone call if they had forgotten to notify the school of their child’s absence or the reason for the child’s absence is personal.
  • Texting is more convenient for those who are unavailable to respond to personal calls during work or study hours.
  • Feedback from our customers, says that texts are the preferred method of school communication for most parents and caregivers.

Benefits of Early Notification for Schools

  • Less time spent by the Attendance Officer in contacting caregivers of absent students.
  • Less expensive than calling mobile phones.
  • Responses go directly into the Student Management System and are easily viewed by the Attendance Officer, making them efficient to process (service offered by some EN providers).
  • Responses are saved in the Student Notes (service offered by some Student Management Systems).

Click here, to find out more about how an early notification system can help your school.

School-links Spring Cleaning: 5 tips to enrich your school communications

September, 2015

Spring

Like any successful spring cleaning process, taking a step back and making a list of things to do is helpful.

This spring we have put together some tips and updates to help School-links users brush up on their communication techniques and streamline processes.

Current Data

Regular csv data exports enrich your general communications for both text and email messaging as it will refresh you with your parents, caregivers and student’s latest email addresses and mobile phone numbers.  We recommend you email us a file monthly or at least twice a term – some schools are sending files weekly.

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Emergency Text App

Incidentally, having  good data in your portal also enables you the flexibility to use the Emergency Text App (for Administrators /Senior Management staff) to send urgent text messages to any combinations of your parents, staff and students.

The app is available for both Android and Apple devices, just look for School-links (with the hyphen), and the little orange logo will show with the correct app.

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Emergency message tips

A reminder for essentials to include when sending text and email messages, especially for cancellations, emergencies, lockdowns:

  • Put your school name in both the text and email message – preferably at the beginning of the message, and sign off.
  • For emergency text message communications it is preferable to use the Text Alert Centre.

For more tips on writing an effective text message click here.

 

Parent Interviews

Parent Interviews online booking system is now available.  We have partnered with Parent Interviews which uses a simple code for parents to access and book their interviews online.

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If you are interested in using this facility please contact us.

 

Update Administrators

Now is a timely reminder to update your Administrators.

To create an Administrator:

  • Click Users and Groups in blue bar
  • Administrators
  • Add new Administrator
  • Create New Administrator
  • Data Transfers
  • Enable account.

To add or remove a Master please contact us.

Want to learn more? Enquire now.

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