ParentPaperwork integrates with TryBooking for school ticketing

TryBooking is an Australian-owned and operated event ticketing, registrations and fundraising platform. With over 3,000 schools already benefiting from TryBooking’s functionality, it made perfect sense for ParentPaperwork to integrate with the TryBooking platform to help smooth out the event ticketing experience for schools.

You can find out about using ParentPapework with TryBooking by clicking here and heading to our Knowledge Base. But the important things to remember are:

  1. You can include a TryBooking purchase as part of a ParentPaperwork Parent Slip.
  2. You can require parents to complete a TryBooking payment before they can submit their Parent Slip.
  3. You can see, at a glance, who has made their payment and returned their Parent Slip for consolidated reporting.

Trybooking

Given TryBooking’s popularity among schools, you may already know their story but, if not, we sat down briefly with CEO, Jeff McAlister, and he filled us in on the background behind TryBooking and why it’s such a good fit with ParentPaperwork.

 ParentPaperwork: How did TryBooking come about as a business and how does it differ from the dominant players in the ticketing arena?

Jeff McAlister: “The founders, Grant and Delma Dunoon, were both active in their school community and volunteering for their children’s sporting clubs when they started realising how difficult it was to find volunteers to run events, handle cash and manually complete every task. School offices were being inundated with envelopes filled with money, lists to track sales, and it was tough work. After a lot of research around the challenges presented, they built TryBooking as the solution to help volunteers and school departments run more efficiently and for a very affordable price.”

“Ten years later, TryBooking is still Australian owned and operated and is the largest self-service ticketing platform in Australia with over 60,000 event organisers running over 15,000 events per week. The platform is simple, powerful and the pricing hasn’t changed. Unlike many other large technology companies, we provide dedicated local support via phone, email and social media. The local team is very experienced and understands the challenges that schools face.”

“We also differ from other players in that we host all our data in Australia. There’s no third-party marketing and we don’t have tiered pricing that limits your features. Our focus has also been on affordability, making sure that everyone benefits from lower pricing, which helps to support the community.”

 Why is TryBooking being embraced by schools? What does it offer schools in particular?

“We have supported the school community since day one, working with schools to achieve their goals and planning new features around the feedback that we receive. With that in mind, I think that our local support, affordable pricing and experience is the major difference between us and other players. We are also focused on privacy, and make it as easy as possible for parents, students and the community to book tickets without hassles of accounts and passwords.”

“The system is also very flexible – schools can use TryBooking for concerts with seating plans, sports registrations, open days, alumni events, dinners with table plans, end-of-year functions, fundraising and so much more. As we grow, we’re always adding more features, such as widgets for their websites, the TryBooking Scanning App and more. We want schools to succeed and we make sure our features are always the most useful and relevant for them.”

How has the TryBooking relationship developed with schools as the business has grown? Are schools now using TryBooking differently than initially expected?

“TryBooking first started with the aim of solving administration issues faced by schools and, 10 years later, we are still passionate about helping schools run events and engaging their wider community. We run training sessions with school teams and make sure we aren’t just teaching the new features but listening to what different departments, principals, parents, finance managers and bursars want from the platform. It is important for us to understand complex issues like financial controls, data privacy, collaboration and school events with multiple stakeholders.”

“Most schools use TryBooking for its core functionality of registrations, payments, tickets and bookings but we do see lots of schools using TryBooking to run some very creative fundraisers and drives.”

How do you see the relationship between TryBooking and ParentPaperwork working?

“There are lots of great technology products for schools and the more we work together the better. Integrating and finding ways to make processes easier for staff and volunteers is important for us and ParentPaperwork, so we see this as a good fit. We hope that schools using ParentPaperwork will benefit from the integration and reduce the amount of communication needed to chase payments for events.”

If you have any advice for schools using TryBooking, what would it be?

“The platform is very powerful and can be used in a huge number of ways. You can create whatever you want from a general admission event right through to a large seated concert hall. Once you know what types of events or registrations you are using, we suggest creating templates to ensure that all your branding and information is consistent across departments. Also, we encourage you to pick up the phone and get help when you need it. We are here to help.”

Find out more about using ParentPaperwork with TryBooking

How to make school excursions safe – and fun – for everyone

ParentPaperwork’s Business Development Manager, Sam Sapuppo – a 30-year school veteran in roles such as Deputy Head, Director of Boarding and Director of Community Relations – explains the workings of our Activity Care Module in a practical school context…

Excursions, activities and field trips are an important part of the academic and cultural life of every school. That’s undeniable.

However, every one of us who has been in the position of organising an excursion or an activity understands that it is a multifaceted, logistical, legal compliance and communications management juggling act. Excursions demand an enormous amount of time from our teaching and administration staff – and that is just the paperwork.

Not much fun (for something that really should be enjoyable).

When push comes to shove, many of us will admit we have primarily used ‘whatever we did last year’ or ‘what the person before us in the role did’ to organise a school activity. We are secretly aware there must be a SIMPLER, SMARTER, BETTER way of organising excursions and activities but time rarely allows us to think this through.

I’m pleased to report ParentPaperwork’s Activity Care Module is the SIMPLER, SMARTER, BETTER way I always dreamed of as a School Deputy Head.

The planning of school excursions and activities generally involves four pre-activity steps that are of equal importance in safeguarding the integrity of the activity, and ensuring all legal and school requirements are fulfilled. They are:

1. Book and justify the educational purpose of the activity, as well as negotiate an appropriate date (otherwise known as the Event Booking form);
2. Risk assessment and ‘the multi-page tome’ (Risk Assessment form);
3. Staffing and resource application and approvals (Staff and Resource Booking form); and
4. Permission letter to parents (Excursion and Activity Permission form).

As every good educationalist knows, reflection and review are integral components in the learning cycle so there are also post-activity steps that need to be accommodated. Accordingly, ParentPaperwork’s Activity Care Module enables schools to send reflection/survey forms to students, staff and parents (Excursion/Activity Reflection Survey form) on the completion of the activity.

Not only are these forms digitised through the ParentPaperwork suite but so is the process, which enables workflow and communication to be automated. We estimate 90% of the administration task surrounding an excursion or activity is removed by using our Activity Care Module. For example, a pre-filled digital form delivered on the personal device of the parent/student/staff has proven to be a real winner.

Building on the best practice for which ParentPaperwork has become known, we have designed this Activity Care Module with the following principle in mind: The student experience is of primary importance.

So how do we support this?

Working with hundreds of schools in our ParentPaperwork Community, we developed the Activity Care Module to be an essential tool from the start to finish of an activity and in the event of an emergency.

Here is what makes it SIMPLER, SMARTER, BETTER:

  • Automated pre-activity emails provide key care information (photographs, emergency contacts/medical/dietary notes, etc.) about students participating in an activity or excursion;
  • Student care information is available in both an easy offline and online format, highlighting and colour-coding students at high risk;
  • Notes can be added to all ParentPaperwork forms to inform and keep staff up-to-date as events unfold or alerting them to key considerations that need to be kept front of mind;
  • Easy viewing of a child’s existing care information by parents (data read from your student management system) via your parent portal (such as Schoolbox, SEQTA or custom integration to your portal);
  • Student attendance can be recorded for an activity or excursion via a new mobile-specific page;
  • Privacy, security and accountability is assured via access and audit controls, and logs;

With the Activity Care Module, ParentPaperwork completely closes the loop in terms of the forms administration of any activity. This effectively frees staff to concentrate on the excursion and/or activity itself, while reassuring parents that the school is in control of its activities, and their child is safe to experience and learn.

Yes, I can put my hand on my heart and say I wished I had the option of ParentPaperwork’s Activity Care Module when I was helping lead a school. At the very least, I get the satisfaction of offering it to you.

Read here for more information about the functionality of ParentPaperwork’s Activity Care Module. Or contact us at info@parentpaperwork.com

Schools doing great things – Carmel College

Photo: aerial view of Carmel College, with Lake Pupuke in the foreground, and the Hauraki Gulf and Rangitoto Island in the background.

Carmel College
Location: Auckland, New Zealand

Carmel College is an integrated Catholic school for girls from Y7 to Y13 on Auckland’s North Shore in New Zealand, founded by the Sisters of Mercy in 1957. As a Mercy school, it is governed by the five core Mercy values of care of the poor and vulnerable, compassion, justice, service, and respect for human dignity.

Carmel is fortune to have great teachers and students who are hardworking and enjoy success academically, as well as in a wide range of co-curricular activities. The Carmel community is proud to be actively involved in the wider community, helping to support services such as De Paul House and Hospice.

Given Carmel College has been an all-star ParentPaperwork user for over a year, we asked the Personal Assistant to the Principal, Deborah Goudie, to take a moment out of her busy schedule to tell us about Carmel and how they are using technology, specifically ParentPaperwork.

ParentPaperwork: You’ve been in your role at Carmel College for five years, Deborah. What have been your fondest memories so far?

Deborah Goudie: “Experiencing the students on mass is something quite special. Throughout the academic year, there are a number of occasions when the whole school assembles, such as for the Dedication Mass at the start of the year. There is a great sense of community and positive energy at these events.”

When and how did you come to hear about ParentPaperwork and what appealed to you about the platform?

“About this time last year, an email was received by the college giving a brief synopsis on how ParentPaperwork worked and advising that David Eedle [CTO of ParentPaperwork] would be visiting Auckland if we would like to meet him. The possible benefits from ParentPaperwork seemed too good to miss out on, so we took him up on his offer.”

Would you say that Carmel College is using ParentPaperwork in any unique way?

“I can’t say that we’re using the system in a unique manner, as such. One of the unexpected spinoffs is that parent email addresses are now kept up-to-date. Feedback from parents and teachers has been positive too.”

From your experience of ParentPaperwork, do you have any advice for other users?

“Depending on the student management system that schools use, it is important to have lists set up in SMS that can be pulled into ParentPaperwork. This reduces double entry.”

“I would also say, if you have a problem, do not hesitate to email ParentPaperwork because response rates are excellent and, even if we don’t get the answer straight away, ParentPaperwork always pulls out all stops to sort the issue as quickly as possible.”

How do you see the future of technology in your school?

“Technology in schools is well-embedded now. The New Zealand Ministry of Education has indicated they will be incorporating digital technologies into the curriculum in the next year from Y1 through to Y13.”

“ParentPaperwork is now how we do business at Carmel College. Other technologies used are based on the Google platform, such as Google Classrooms and Google Forms.”

What would you say are the biggest challenges for educators in terms of technology?

“Internet security, educating students about appropriate use of technology, and guiding them to optimise the benefits from technology.”

If the magic teacher fairy could grant you three wishes, what would they be?

“Wish number one would be not having to send out so much paperwork in the first place. Then I’d like to have people respond when we do send out the paperwork and really need an answer.”

“Also, reducing the bureaucratic workload would be a big one, such as all the reports for various agencies and stakeholders.”

“However, seeing the students grow, almost exponentially with developments in digital technologies is exciting. Students are creating adaptations, applications and their own opportunities – in some cases, writing their career paths.”

www.carmel.school.nz

ParentPaperwork nominated for Best National Digital Solution in World Summit Awards

ParentPaperwork has been nominated as Best National Digital Solution for Australia in the international World Summit Awards, selecting digital innovation with impact on society.

With this nomination, ParentPaperwork qualifies for evaluation by the WSA Online Jury 2017 among a further 391 international nominations.

The World Summit Award continues to showcase the full gamut of digital innovation – from Mexico to New Zealand, from Qatar to Germany. In the WSA nominees 2017, we can see the richness, diversity, future and innovation of digital solutions on a global scale, and evidence of how digital technology can improve society on each corner of the world.

These nominees have been selected carefully by the WSA National Experts from more than 178 UN member states, who nominate up to eight projects for each country – one for every WSA category. From this point forward, nominees will be evaluated based on seven fundamentals criteria: Content, Functionality, Design, Technology, Innovation, Impact and Global/UN value.

Given the processes to evaluate and accept a nominee, a nomination to the WSA is already an award in itself – the qualification to compete and compare on an international level, as well as being the best practice in digital solutions nationally.

About the WSA
The World Summit Award is a global initiative within the framework of the United Nations World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS). WSA is the only ICT event worldwide that reaches the mobile community in over 180 countries. WSA highlights digital content improving society and focuses on local content with global relevance.

Visit the WSA at www.worldsummitawards.org, or on Facebook and Twitter using the hashtag #WSA17

Media Contact World Summit Award:
Manuela Wagner
Network Development & Communications, World Summit Awards
manuela@worldsummitawards.org
+43.660.630408.7

wsa_logo_2017_national_nominee

Parent stress over permission slips goes off the charts

We’ve always known that permission slips are a constant bugbear for both parents and schools – after all, that’s why we created a business directly addressing that problem. But even we were amazed when satirical page Cottesloe Barbie decided to roast parent permission forms and received a reaction that went through the roof.

As the anonymous Editor in Chief of Cottesloe Barbie tells us, “That particular post has just risen in the last day (14th September 2017) to be the number one post we’ve ever had, with a reach of 112K, 1.8K reactions, 462 shares and over 500 comments.”

So what’s all the fuss about? Read below and you’ll see why Cottesloe Barbie hit the nail on the head with their hilarious depiction of parental permission grievances. And, if you’re laughing because it’s so true, tell your school about ParentPaperwork as soon as possible so we can make such frustrations a thing of your past.

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Life goes better with partners – Ayra Analytics

As Founder of Ayra Analytics Hansa Wijayasundara says, “Data analytics is not just another buzzword.”

ParentPaperwork is so aware of this fact that we’re constantly hammering home the value of data, including in our own recent article on data interoperability. We’re also putting our money where our mouths are by partnering with Hansa’s company to offer even more functionality and power to ParentPaperwork schools.

So what does Ayra Analytics specifically do? And how does this work in a school environment?

We put Hansa under the microscope to answer the questions you’re likely to ask, and to make some sense of this little thing called ‘data analytics’…

ParentPaperwork: Firstly, how did Ayra Analytics emerge as a business?

Hansa Wijayasundara: “We came about because we saw an opportunity for schools to collect, store and visualise data but it had to be in an easy-to-use format. As an example, schools can only currently analyse data in a single system. They don’t have the capability to analyse multiple sources of data such as that from student management systems, learning management systems and finance management systems with other external system data like NAPLAN, Allwell and Senses. We’re changing all that.”

“Ultimately, what Ayra Analytics does is help schools blend different data in a way that they can easily read, compare different data sets and come up with decisions.”

Can you explain the value of data analytics, and how it applies to schools, in a little more detail?

“Schools are in a great position to analyse the many, many sources of data they hold and collect but they just need the means to do it. This also includes data that schools have access to outside of their own environment, such as NAPLAN and the other external sources I’ve already mentioned.”

“Smart schools should be actively using their past and current data to come up with predictions. For example, they might predict the grades or marks a student will get in their exams based on their prior results. They can also use data analytics to improve administration tasks like budgeting and finance forecasting. In the admissions department, they might use data to find out where the students are coming from, as well as their family background, in order to understand their needs.”

“There are also trends in attendance that can be revealed through data analytics. ‘Do we see more absenteeism in a rainy day compared to a sunny day?’ or ‘Do we have more student absents on a particular day of the week.’ These are just some of the endless questions that can be answered. Schools have the power at their fingertips and we give them the tools to access that power.”

What are the pitfalls for a school when looking at data analytics? How can they be overcome?

“It’s a journey, it’s not a single project. Schools won’t be able to get all the outcomes they need on day one. If schools want to get all their data cleaned and ready before applying analytics, then it will never happen. Schools need to use analytics dashboards to visualise data first. This way, they can start to identify gaps in their data and the data cleaning process will then stem from that.”

“Data analytics is not just another buzzword, it’s the reality of both now and tomorrow. Schools need to commit a decent amount of time to get the outcomes they need but, once it’s all been put into action, they won’t look back. They really need to be data-savvy and have the staff in place that are ready to wrangle the data. So it’s about firstly creating a data analytics culture in the school and then moving forward with that in incremental and strategic steps.”

Where is the future of data analysis heading for schools?

“Predictive and prescriptive analytics. Schools should be able to predict student outcomes and intervene early, way before they get into trouble. Using both machine learning and AI, schools will be able to accurately prescribe solutions for teachers and students. Education will never be the same.”

How would you sum up Ayra Analytics service offering?

“Better data equals better insights. Better insights equal better decisions. Better decisions equal smarter education. And you can’t get better than that.”

www.ayraanalytics.com.au

Life goes better with partners – Digistorm

In March 2017, we announced that ParentPaperwork had become fully integrated with the Digistorm schoolAPP for Schoolbox, which is yet another example of ParentPaperwork’s commitment to furthering our data interoperability.

Now that ParentPaperwork and Digistorm schools are well and truly taking advantage of the increased functionality this partnership gives them, we thought it was timely to introduce Digistorm on a more intimate level to you.

We asked Digistorm’s Chris Lang some questions, and here’s what he had to say…

ParentPaperwork: Can you please tell us a bit about Digistorm and how it came about?

Chris Lang: “Sure, Digistorm was founded in 2011 and really came about when Tim Oswald, our MD, built and launched the first School App in Australia for King’s Christian College on the Gold Coast. After receiving a number of enquiries from other schools he decided to focus on building a mobile app system dedicated to education.”

“I came onboard following this and, since then, we’ve grown to 15-plus staff and now work with over 250 schools throughout Australia, NZ, Asia and the United States. We’ve also diversified our product offering to include websites, online enrolment portals and, more recently, a CRM designed specifically for K-12 schools.”

How do you recall the Digistorm and ParentPaperwork relationship beginning? Who courted who and when did romance blossom?

“It was quite organic really! As with most of our integration partners, it was driven by mutual clients who saw the tremendous value that this could bring to their school. David Eedle (CTO at Parent Paperwork) and I worked with our respective development teams to develop a proof of concept and roll it to a number of schools for their feedback.”

What does ParentPaperwork add to Digistorm that particularly appeals to you?

“The ability for our school communities to receive targeted instant notifications when their children have a permission note or slip outstanding is so convenient. Being able to then quickly approve or decline it in just a few taps, while still ensuring full compliance, seems so powerful to me. Best of all, there is no extra work required to push it to our eduAPP system.”

“I’ve had so many schools ask me for this exact workflow over the years so to be able to offer it with a best-of-breed solution like Parent Paperwork is exciting.”

How has the interoperability between Digistorm and ParentPaperwork played out so far? Have there been any pleasant surprises? Customer comments?

“Due to the way that it was developed by both parties, it really is a plug & play solution for our schools so the implementation is quite seamless. The feedback has been nothing short of amazing and, recently, a leading independent girls school in South Australia commented to me that it was one of the best things that they had done.”

Where are you hoping the ParentPaperwork and Digistorm relationship will lead?

“We’d love to open this up to many more of our partner schools over the next 12 months and also to continue to develop the two platforms to be even more integrated. I hope that valuable feedback from our schools will drive the functionality in both systems.”

“We’ve got some exciting marketing initiatives in the works as well, and can see both companies going from strength to strength over the coming years.”

Your office looks like a cool place to be… What are the defining qualities of a ‘Digistormer’?

“Must own striped shirt, or be willing to improvise. Must like fancy cheese and not-so-fancy beer. Must be able to source and share a meme relevant to every situation in a matter of minutes…”

“…I’m only kidding! The great thing about this office is that everyone can be exactly who they want to be. We believe in a zero-politics environment with lots of laughs and even more hard work. If you have a skill, we’ll foster it – that’s why we have such a passionate, hard-working team. That’s the essence of a Digistormer.”

Do you have any closing comments?

“A shameless plug I know but I would encourage anyone who is interested in seeing the integration in action to contact Digistorm on 07 5508 2929 as we’d love to show it off.”

www.digistorm.com.au

A lack of school data interoperability leads to inoperability

Written by David Eedle, CTO, ParentPaperwork

What are we talking about when we say ‘data interoperability’? Consider this analogy:

You’ve got a kitchen and you mistakenly buy a whole lot of appliances from different countries, which means they all have varying power plugs. The toaster is still a toaster, the blender is still a blender, and a kettle is still a kettle. Individually and in the appropriate environment, they’ll work perfectly. But, in your kitchen with your power points, they can’t function.

Therein lies the problem with interoperability with technology in any situation, school or otherwise. If you’re establishing an office with a bunch of computers that can’t talk to each other, or can’t effectively connect, then what you have is data inoperability, rather than interoperability.

In the case of schools, each school has a source of truth: their student management system. It will be a central database of some sort that holds all the key and associated data about any given student (their name, contact details, information about guardians and, increasingly, their academic information).

The database may hold all that information but the database does not do everything. So schools buy all different types of software – for organising school lunch payments or selling tickets to the school play or sending online forms to parents or managing medical records, etc. – to increase the functionality of their central management system. Generally, we refer to this as a ‘stack’ of software.

But back to the kitchen analogy…

Let’s say you’ve got a core student management system (the kitchen) and you’ve bought five tools (blender, coffeemaker, toaster and so on) but you can’t plug them into your core management system. That means you’ve got six or seven ‘buckets’ of data floating around your school, all of which relate to your students and parents but which don’t talk to each other. That’s not a very viable situation but that’s exactly the kind of situation found in a lot of schools.

Mostly, this comes down to data exchange, which is the interoperability of data or data moving between all of those applications. If the school lunch system knows who the students and parents are, then it is able to help maintain a proper record for a student regarding how much lunch money they have remaining. If they know a student has left the school, then they know they shouldn’t be able to buy lunch. The core system gives the lunch system that information through interoperability.*

There are many student management systems on the market, and each one has its own eccentricities around providing access. As a rule, most abide by a closed system approach (i.e. they are bad at providing access) due to their foundations in technology from around 15 years ago. Today’s software is browser-based and cloud-based, which makes it far more interoperable. However, and, instead, were designed as standalone boxes that ‘you put stuff in’ and ‘you take stuff out’. In other words, they were never expected to ‘talk’ to other software.

As we’ve seen more software coming into schools, the stack has got taller and the older student management database companies are gradually learning to open up their data. They are realising they are never going to be able to have a set of features that deals with every single piece of functionality a school requires. Instead, they’re starting to see the inevitability that a school will have a stack of software and, therefore, those pieces of software will need to talk to each other.

So, what should a school be asking a potential software provider in order to ensure interoperability?

1. How does it integrate with other products?
2. Does that interoperability exist?
3. Is there an API** available?

Software developers need to remember that a school’s data does not belong to them; it belongs to the school. Accordingly, all schools should be able to access their own data freely and the multitude of uses and benefits that data provides.

Speak to ParentPaperwork for more information about school data interoperability.

* With ParentPaperwork, we make it our business to know the details of all students and guardians and, therefore, who’s allowed to do what and who’s allowed to see what. We do that by reading data directly out of the student management database. That’s interoperability. If the student database knows something, then we know it too.

** An API is a programmable interface for software that enables it to talk to another computer and exchange information.

Schools doing great things – WCCC

Windsor Community Children’s Centre Co-op Ltd (WCCC)
Location: Melbourne, Australia

Windsor Community Children’s Centre Co-op Ltd (WCCC) started life 40 years ago as Swinburne Prahran Community Children’s Centre Co-op – a centre for children of staff and mature-aged students at Prahran TAFE in Melbourne. Across those four decades, they’ve weathered many storms in a turbulent Australian childcare sector but remained community-focused as a parent-managed, not-for-profit service.

Director Rose Kelly took ParentPaperwork on a tour and answered some questions about early childhood education and care, both now and into the future, while Assistant Director of WCCC Deanne Andoniou tells how ParentPaperwork fits into the picture.

ParentPaperwork: As someone fully involved in the childcare sector, what are the biggest changes you believe have occurred in childcare in Australia since the establishment of WCCC 40 years ago?

Rose Kelly: “The most significant change from then until now is probably that the whole landscape of early childhood education and care (ECEC) has evolved from a service that provided a place where parents could leave their children so they could work and/or study to now being recognised for the positive impacts on young children’s lives in terms of brain development, socialisation and learning. The reforms around the sector have also changed a lot for the better as well, especially in terms of educator training and quality services.”

WCCC is viewed as a leader in your sector. What do you think are the strongest issues facing the childcare?

“The strongest issue would be affordability for families, especially our most vulnerable.”

Childcare work is still not compensated commensurate with the work involved and the impact on young lives at their earliest point. Do you see a way to make that change meaningfully?

“I believe the only way is for the federal government to subsidise childcare. There is so much national and international research around about the benefits of ECEC. When we improve programs and services that help all children to be healthy, to get a good education and to contribute to our collective prosperity, we all benefit.”

WCCC has a student to childcare worker ratio that is way more favourable for children than government requirements. Why?

“To provide high quality care for children. Research also indicates that smaller numbers of groupings of children is better for them in terms of learning and stress. It also creates a much more enjoyable working environment for the educators.”

It’s impressive how your children get an on-premises cooked lunch everyday and you have a cook who is clearly very much part of the team. How does eating a meal together, or the same meal together, influence the culture at the centre?

“Food is often the cornerstone of many cultures and it creates a very rich community social experience. We get to enjoy good company and eat delicious food.”

What are the key learning values of the centre? What is your teaching approach?

“We want each child to be able to learn and develop in their own way. We want them to be inquisitive and wonder. We want them to engage with others and be inclusive. We do not subscribe to any particular teaching approach. Where we provide play-based learning, it is rich in intention and content.”

What is the highlight of running Windsor CCC?

“The educators. I admire them for their constant dedication and willingness to strive for better outcomes for children, and forever growing their own professional and personal development. Also, the community involvement of our families for running the service – it is a partnership that I really value.”

In celebrating 40 years in the childcare space, what do you think lies ahead?

“That’s an interesting question. I think we will see changes in the sector again, about what society will value in terms of ECEC. I am hoping that stricter reforms will come into play around ECEC being viewed as a profitable business.”

It’s great how you ask children for permission to use their photo, not just parental permission. Maybe you can elaborate a bit on how you help children learn about rights?

“We aspire to Early Childhood Australia Code of Ethics, and we talk a lot to children about their rights and the rights of others. We try to, in all circumstances, give the children their own voice to be heard and respected.”

What’s the best thing about WCCC being around for 40 years?

“That we are serving the community by helping local families and, through all the years, it has maintained a not-for-profit parent-managed service. With demands on people’s times, I am hopeful that we can still be around for another 40 years.”

And speaking to Deanne Andoniou:

What do you specifically use ParentPaperwork for at Windsor CCC?

Deanne Andoniou:To maximise efficiency and responses from families and to offer families a quick and easy method to communicate back with the centre. ParentPaperwork sits in-line with our strong philosophy of sustainability and being conscious of our environmental footprint. We are able to view which families have not opened up an email or responded to an email sent. It means we can touch base with those families individually and offer a friendly reminder / support.”

What do parents think about using it?

“Our parent survey had the highest level of participation (65.9% response rate) in comparison to using a survey software last year. ParentPaperwork was their preferred method of communication from the centre. They find it easy to respond immediately with a click of a button on their smart phones or computers.”

How much time and/or energy would you guess you reclaim by using ParentPaperwork?

“I would say, on average, ParentPaperwork has saved me two hours per broadcast/parent-slip/school-form sent. This is inclusive of follow-up emails and so on.”

Why would a childcare centre want to go down the path of using technologies such as ParentPaperwork?

“To be sustainable and environmentally-conscious. Also, the response time and level of participation from families is significantly greater.”

windsorccc.org.au

5 emerging trends to help schools stay on top of the technology avalanche: Part One

Written by ParentPaperwork’s Business Development Director, Sam Sapuppo

What can a 30-year veteran of school leadership possibly learn in two years of working for an edtech startup, ParentPaperwork? I surprised even myself.

We all know the bugbear of working in a school: everyone went to school, or knows someone who went to school, so everyone is an expert. Parents have also begun looking at and comparing schools through a business process lens. This aspect provides further and sometimes conflicting pressures but also wonderful opportunities. I would encourage all of us to use this window of opportunity to explore everything that enables a school to use its most precious commodities – staff time, finance and natural resources – to the best of its ability.

In this environment, the role of leadership in a school is to distil and discern lessons that can be learnt, and processes that can be built upon from business and community enterprises; to help the school work smarter and be overall more effective.

With 500 schools in eight countries, my recent edtech experiences have seen me work daily with a microcosm of the global school community and the vagaries that this environment throws up. This includes the multitude of student and learning management systems, communication platforms, websites, school budgets, processes and skill-sets.

All of us are working to assist staff who have varying degrees of digital skills. This is the easier obstacle to overcome. The more difficult issue is dealing with the cultural resistance – or indifference – to the introduction of yet another new technology in a school.

As a cautionary observation, I believe it is not just a school staff issue. The other side of the coin is the glaring and frustrating thing schools universally face; that is, the speed of technological and product change, and the time and expertise required to stay on top of it. What I hear from IT directors and principals is: how do you deal with the growth of problem-solving startup companies with their superior adaptability and versatility of software design? There is something new every day and it is just easier to do nothing.

In my particular case, as a team at ParentPaperwork, we are group of experienced:

  • Entrepreneurs – who have serious solution building experience;
  • IT engineers – with UX experience;
  • School leaders, administrators and teachers;
  • Marketing and sales professionals; and very importantly
  • Parents of school-aged children.

In our mind, we are trying to help schools work smarter rather than harder – a phrase that is very easy to roll off the tongue but much more difficult to achieve in practice. We are not egotistical enough to think we are the only ones doing this, or that we have the best way to solve it all. We do however believe we are an essential component, not just because of the solution we produce but because of the WAY we are going about our solution.

Smart schools have always understood that people come first. Whether it’s their staff, students or parents, the ‘primacy of people’ ethos remains no less fundamental in the age of digital integration. I dare not use the term ‘digital disruption’ in the education space. Indeed, it may be argued it has never been more critical to a school’s success.

Digital integration is making every school face up to the challenge of embracing and managing change. It is also an opportunity to re-engage with communities, drive innovation, reduce costs and boost efficiency.

So what are the five most important emerging trends that smart schools are using when building their IT ecosystems? We’ve identified the following:

  1. The user experiences should be front and centre of all thinking and planning.
  1. All programs and systems need to be interoperable.
  1. The benefits that new programs and processes employ are the key drivers for a decision, not the cost. Think: can we afford NOT to employ this new program and/or process?
  1. Staff time and data to assist with decision-making are now the two most valuable assets a school owns. Every new program and system that is deployed should address this new focus.
  1. Continuous improvement needs to be mandatory and non-intrusive.

Coming up, an in-depth look at these five trends – 5 emerging trends to help schools stay on top of the technology avalanche: Part 2