How risky are paper forms in schools? Seven significant points of failure with paper-based forms sent home to parents

Risk and liability management is a significant and growing issue for schools around the world. Schools face ever increasingly tight legal frameworks around privacy, risk management and in some countries the advent of litigious parents who will sue for everything from poor exam results to even the mildest perception of the school placing their child in harm’s way. Some schools now employ full time staff members whose job is to prepare risk assessments and evaluate every activity for the potential for all manner of disaster.

With this in mind it’s essential schools consider all aspects of their administrative and management processes and policies. ParentPaperwork is helping schools with this by offering a platform that replaces paper forms with a secure, robust online forms system to capture, manage and report information from parents.

Let’s break down why paper forms are inherently risky in schools, and examine seven significant points of failure with paper-based forms sent home to parents.

1. Who signed the form?

Schools have an obligation to secure informed consent from the guardian of a student for excursions and other activities. That means ensuring the parent has all the necessary information to make an informed decision about their child participating in an activity. And the school needs to be confident they have secured that consent from the appropriate person.

How can you have any confidence the information provided on a form, and signature at the bottom, is from the intended parent or guardian? The paper form has been stuffed in a school bag, and presumably transported home, but schools have no capacity to validate the form was filled in by the parent. ParentPaperwork communicates directly with the nominated contacts for a student, and can add another layer of identification with Two Factor Authentication.

2. Was the form filled out correctly?

A paper form has no controls to ensure that information is entered into all the required fields. Even the design of the form is a problem – all too often class teachers simply design their own form, ignoring the mandated form created by the school, or the school’s auspicing body – the local authority, the school district. ParentPaperwork ensures staff use the correct form template, and can designate fields as required to force parents to complete the necessary information.

3. Can you read their handwriting?

Once paper forms have been returned the information needs to be transcribed often into a central report, perhaps an Excel spreadsheet. You are dependent on being able to read the parent’s handwriting, a mistake can be costly. We all know we have parents whose handwriting is illegible, can you be sure you have interpreted the information correctly? ParentPaperwork’s online forms mean parents are typing their responses to all the fields and questions.

4. Are the responses from parents being compiled correctly?

Your school’s office staff might be faced with a pile of dozens or hundreds of forms they need to collate and assemble information from. Any time information is moved from one medium to another the risk of corruption is high. Maybe they could read the handwriting, but did they then transcribe the information consistently and correctly? ParentPaperwork collates the parent responses for you, there’s no opportunity for data to be corrupted along the way.

5. Are your paper forms stored securely?

Schools must adhere to data retention policies, they vary around the world but a good rule of thumb seems to be seven years. Where are you storing your paper forms? In a box in a shed down the back of the playing fields? In the basement – the one that floods each winter? Are you really sure they are safe for the next seven years? Some schools even pay for secure off-site storage of paperwork! ParentPaperwork stores all the online form data in a secure cloud-based database, backed up constantly.

6. Can you find a form from six months ago? Five years ago?

Let’s say there was a question or query raised about an activity in the past? Can you locate and retrieve a paper form submitted by a parent two years ago? Would you have to pay your offsite document storage company to retrieve and deliver a box back to school? Is there a catalogue or index for every batch of paper forms you’ve added to storage over the years? ParentPaperwork’s online database means you can search for a particular student, parent or activity and immediately display the online form the parent completed, no matter how long ago.

7. Who has access to your paper forms?

Paper forms regularly contain highly sensitive personal information about students and parents – health information, personal circumstances and addresses and contacts, all of which is likely strictly regulated by the privacy and data protection laws in your country. How do you control access to the paper forms, or the transcribed data within the school? Can any teacher just pick up a form, or see a spreadsheet of compiled responses? ParentPaperwork provides strong user permissions to control which staff member can see what information, ensuring only those who ‘need to know’ can access personal data.

These seven points of failure should be keeping school administrators awake at night everywhere. It only takes one incident to highlight the inadequacies of old style manual processes. In today’s world any incident is one too many, and that’s why the team behind ParentPaperwork has worked hard to create the right technology solution to reduce risk and improve liability management in schools around the world, by replacing paper forms with a secure online system.

 

 

 

 

 

The Schools Technology Roadshow kicks off on Jersey

The Schools Technology Roadshow kicked off yesterday on the island of Jersey, with a group of local schools attending to learn more about opportunities to use digital technologies in the administration of their schools.

ParentPaperwork’s co-founder David Eedle (pictured) presented a session on using the ParentPaperwork platform to replace paper forms, along with Will McKenzie from Parents Evening Booking Systems, to the group gathered at the Jersey College for Girls.

While some of the schools present do already use various communication tools, the idea of an integrated suite, founded around Groupcall’s Messenger platform, is highly attractive, as it means dispensing with disparate software and instead enjoying best of breed technology accessed via a single sign on and easy integration to student and parent databases.

The next Roadshow is at Chulmleigh Community College in Devon on Wednesday 25 November – you can register now, it’s a free event. Or download a brochure.

ParentPaperwork announces new partnership with leading UK education technology company Groupcall Limited

New partnership sees ParentPaperwork available to more than 5,000 UK schools via Groupcall’s Messenger platform.

Melbourne-based start-up ParentPaperwork’s online forms platform will soon be available to more than 5,000 schools in the United Kingdom via a partnership with leading UK education technology company Groupcall Limited.

Groupcall Messenger is the system of choice for over 5,000 Primary and Secondary schools within the UK and Europe. Messenger is an on-line system that allows schools to send personalised text, voice or email messages, printed letter, via the Groupcall Xpressions app and even tweet instantly to parents, staff, students or other contacts in a variety of languages for a low annual subscription fee.

Now for the first time Messenger schools will also be able to distribute online forms to parents and capture data and responses using ParentPaperwork’s user-defined form templates. ParentPaperwork’s sophisticated platform is deeply integrated into Messenger, meaning a single login gives access to all of the features of both Messenger and ParentPaperwork within one seamless interface.

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Using ParentPaperwork school staff can create and send online forms to 50 or 5,000 parents in a matter of minutes; with analysis showing close to 60% of parents return their online forms within 24 hours. Information is stored in a secure data centre and any form can be retrieved in seconds, no matter how long ago it was submitted.

ParentPaperwork CEO Fiona Boyd says this is a significant opportunity for her start-up:

“A key element of our growth strategy is to form strong relationships with key players in a range of markets around the world. We’re extremely pleased to have secured this partnership with Groupcall, and bring the ParentPaperwork platform to such a large captive market of school customers. It’s an exciting opportunity, the Groupcall team have been terrific to work with, and we’re looking forward to a continuing close relationship as we work together to welcome thousands of UK schools to ParentPaperwork.”

An marketing road show kicks off in late November to commence introducing ParentPaperwork to schools in a number of locations around the UK.

About Groupcall

Launched in 2002, Groupcall provides communication and data solutions to the education, public and private sectors. Groupcall is one of the education sector market leaders with its parental communication system, Groupcall Messenger, which is currently used in more than 5,000 schools throughout the UK and Europe. Co-founded by Sir Bob Geldof, Groupcall’s product portfolio comprises of Messenger, Emerge, Xporter and Alert. Groupcall was initially created to improve general and emergency communication between a school and its parents. Since then, Messenger has proven to successfully reduce unauthorised absences in schools, as well as improve parental engagement and lower costs. It is their communication solution which provides the technology behind the enhanced Child Rescue Alert system in the UK.

About ParentPaperwork

ParentPaperwork is an Australian software-as-a-service online forms platform for schools. ParentPaperwork’s mission is to replace paper forms in schools around the world by providing an online solution that enables schools to capture, manage and report data from across their enterprise. Schools in half a dozen countries use ParentPaperwork to improve productivity and efficiency and enhance parental engagement. For more information, and a free trial please go to www.ParentPaperwork.com.

More information:

David Eedle    +61 (0) 419 876 942
david@parentpaperwork.com

ParentPaperwork joins the Schools IT Roadshow around the UK

ParentPaperwork will be part of the Schools IT Roadshow around the UK in coming months, kicking off on Jersey on 18 November, presenting a range of tools and services to groups of schools that can assist in improving efficiency and productivity.

Today, access to technology and IT, both in the home and at school is more prevalent than ever. We now use apps, where once we might have used websites and the hardware we use is changing from desktops to smart phones and tablets. IT influences our daily lives, and teachers and students naturally bring these influences with them into school.

This opens up great possibilities to improve the way schools engage with parents, students and staff through communications, surveys and events such as parent’s evenings.

To help you with this, three IT providers, Groupcall, NetMedia and ParentPaperwork have launched a roadshow of school based meetings to guide local schools in how technology is evolving and improving the running of schools and helping to cut costs and increase efficiency. The three businesses cover:

Communications: Groupcall helps schools communicate and engage with parents, students and staff quicker, through Messenger and help staff with registration, reporting and analysis through Emerge.

Events: NetMedia helps schools to connect better with parents through more effective parents evening, using the Parents’ Evening Booking System.

Forms and Surveys: ParentPaperwork enhances parental engagement and helps schools to free up time through online forms and surveys replacing notes in book bags and flyers handed out at the school gate.

If you are looking at ways to improve parental engagement, communication and deliver cost savings and efficiencies in your school, then why not explore a number of areas of opportunity at The Schools IT Roadshow:

Channel Islands: Jersey – Wednesday 18th November, @ Jersey College of Girls, Le Mont Millais, St Saviour, Jersey C.I. JE2 7YB

South West: Devon 25.11.2015 @09:00

North West: Manchester 3.12.2015 @09:00

East London: Waltham Forest 27.01.2015 @09:00

North Midlands: Nottingham 10.02.2015 @ 09:00

Register to attend one of the roadshow meetings

Explore what is happening with technology in schools, and find out, what is helping them to cut costs, improve efficiencies and ultimately help to drive parental engagement, student attainment, and achievement.

Register today to find out more: http://schoolsitroadshow.eventbrite.co.uk

New Parent Slip and School Form User Permissions available

We’ve had a bunch of feedback recently from schools piloting our new School Forms module about User permissions. One request has been the ability to split a User’s read only/edit permissions between Parent Slips and School Forms.

For example, you might have a staff member who only needs View Only Permission for Parent Slips, to generate reports and search for parent Responses. But as a member of staff they need to be able to add and edit School Forms.

We’ve now split the permission, so it can be set separately. To edit a user click your User name at the top right, then Settings > Users. There are now two fields:

  1. Parent Slips User Permission
  2. School Forms User Permission

The ‘Only these Student Lists’ option remains in force for Parent Slips, and the ‘Only the User’s Slips/Forms’ remains active both for Parent Slips and School Forms.

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New ways to sort and filter Parent Responses in ParentPaperwork

The Responses List displayed when you view a Parent Slip is a terrific real-time view of the forms being completed and returned by parents. It makes it easy to see at a glance how you are tracking, whether you sent out 10 forms or 1,000 forms.

We’ve added new Sort and Filter tools to help make reviewing and monitoring the Responses even easier.

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The new Filter drop down gives you five options:

  1. Show All – remove any filter
  2. Have Responded – only those Students for whom forms have been returned
  3. Only Positive Responses – only returned forms with a ‘Yes’ or ‘positive’ response
  4. Not Positive Responses – returned forms which do not have a ‘Yes’ or ‘positive’ response
  5. Have not Responded – only those Students for whom forms have not been returned

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The Sort options allow you to change the order the Responses are listed. Click on the same option to change alternative descending/ascending order.

The Filter and Sort features work in tandem. For example, you could Filter to only show Positive Responses, and sort by the date the Response was submitted.

 

ParentPaperwork now makes RSVPs for school events and functions super simple

We’ve significantly improved the ‘Limit Responses’ feature for Parent Slips. In the past the system simply counted all the responses received, and when the Limit Responses total was reached parents would be prevented from submitting any more forms.

But really this didn’t make sense – the point of the Limit Responses feature is to make accepting RSVPs and other similar responses really simple. What you want to know is how many parents said ‘Yes’.

We’ve implemented a number of changes.

Add/Edit a Parent Slip

When you add/edit a Parent Slip you’ll notice there is a text hint next to the Limit Responses fields, noting ‘Only positive Responses’. This is to make it clear we’re only going to count the ‘Yes’ responses coming back from parents.

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View Slip

When you view a Slip for which Limit Responses is set you’ll find the key statistics at the top of the page are tailored to reflect the positive responses. In the example below we have sent out 60 Slips and had 47 responses back, of which 28 are positive. Because Limit Responses is set to 30, that makes the Response Rate 93%.

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List Slips

You’ll see a similar statistic on the Slips List page.

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When the 31st parent clicks the link in their email to respond to the Slip they will be shown a message explaining that the number of permitted responses has been exceeded.

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