30% of parents complete and submit their ParentPaperwork forms within 4 hours

We’ve been delving into the ParentPaperwork database, looking at how quickly parents complete and submit the online forms sent to them by school – and some of the numbers are taking our breath away.

The chart at the top represents data from the 5,000 forms most recently completed by parents. What it shows is that 10% are completed within the first hour of the email notifications being sent, with 30% submitted inside the first 4 hours.

This might also explain the statistics we see about the devices parents are using to submit their forms. In general we see the following breakdown:

  • 60% – Desktop web browser
  • 30% – Mobile phone
  • 10% – Tablet

So around 40% of parents are using some kind of mobile, or non-desktop/laptop device to submit their online forms. Which suggests to us parents are often submitting their forms whilst out and about, sitting in meetings, on the train and so forth.

Contrast all this with paper forms. At best a teacher handing out paper forms to students in class can expect them back no sooner than the next day, and often it’s considerably longer than that.

ParentPaperwork’s online forms mean more than 55% of forms returned within 24 hours – without the teacher or school administrator having to lift a finger.

 

School excursions are the favourite part of being at school for this high school student

Clea Boyd-Eedle is 17 years old and in her final year of high school, she’s also the eldest daughter of ParentPaperwork’s founders David and Fiona, and we asked her for some thoughts about school excursions from the point of view of a student.

Being in my final year of high school, I now am able to truly reflect on my schooling career. There have been many great memories associated with both primary and high school. Although it is important to learn traditionally in a classroom environment, I can tell you there is nothing better than an excursion day, where we learn hands-on, bond with fellow classmates and explore our curriculum in real-life situations. Excursions have definitely been my utmost favourite part of being in school, and I reckon that most students would agree.

Biology becomes so much more enjoyable when you venture to the zoo and meet all the animals you’ve been studying. Exploring the city on an adventure race and utilising what you’ve learnt about public transport creates great travelling skills. And how about indulging in fine French foods and ordering using newly learnt phrases, such as “Je voudrais un sandwich de poulet? et un chocolate chaud si’l vous plaît?” Ordering a chicken sandwich and a hot chocolate was never more exciting or fulfilling.

As the workload piles on in our later years, the memories of past excursions grow fonder. My favourite excursion aspect of high school was definitely our schools CUE program, where each second week of year 9, classes would spend the day together using personal skills and learnt knowledge to explore life out of school. CUE was comprised of three areas, community (C), urban (U) and environment (E).

Community placed 2-3 students in different working environments, for example, I worked at a local school for disabled kids where I was lucky enough to spend time with my younger sister and her school friends. Other students worked at immigration centres, elderly care homes and kindergartens.

Urban saw classes visit mosques, explore the city and visit some of Melbourne’s most iconic buildings. In environment we cleaned up Portsea beaches and discovered where exactly our waste ended up, whilst also learning how to solve current environmental issues.

My favourite part of CUE was easily the Big Experience trip at the end of the program, where I spent 3 weeks in Thailand, Laos and Cambodia building a home for a rural community, bartering in markets and really opening my eyes to the real world.

Each year schools organise a multitude of excursions, and it is often that you will see scores of buses lining the front of the school in preparation for an exciting day of learning outside the classroom. Excursions, although an important aspect of schooling life, require a great deal of planning and organisation to ensure that the utmost safety and care is taken for each and every student.

My parents seem to have to handle an everlasting stream of paperwork  – no wonder they came up with the idea for ParentPaperwork.

I won’t lie, even as a fairly organised student, over the years I’ve definitely misplaced my fair few of excursion forms, and now I’ve had a chance to see what Mum and Dad are doing, it makes complete sense to me that schools should give ParentPaperwork a try!

The origins of ParentPaperwork and its mission to replace paper forms in schools

David Eedle, the co-founder of ParentPaperwork, explains the origins of ParentPaperwork.

I’m staring at the kitchen counter top, there are five piles of paper lined up and my partner in life and work Fiona is explaining how she’s delegating responsibility to me for dealing with each of the piles. Perhaps ‘explaining’ is too mild, maybe ‘instructing’ is more accurate.

Fiona and I have three children at school – a 17 year old daughter in her final year; a 14 year old son and an eight year old daughter. Between them they also participate in five sports activities including footy (yes, the real one, Australian Rules); soccer (what the rest of the world calls football); tennis; swimming; and basketball. They also variously participate in a range of other activities such as scouts, and dance, music and singing classes.

There is nothing particularly special about our family, other than we’ve managed to out-perform the Australian national average of one point something children per family. Fiona and I at the simplest are reduced to being taxi drivers and ATMs, doling out transport and $50 notes at random. I even have a laminated sign I hang on my study door at home during school holidays captioned “This is not a taxi depot, if you require transport you need to book in advance.

What we share with every other family we know is that we drown in paperwork. Not a week goes by without several missives arriving, most requiring our completing a form and returning it to school or whoever is organising the activity. These forms range from the short (“Sign and return”) to complicated (“Complete this two page medical details form plus one page personal details form”).

Our son was a scout for five years. Almost every week his scout troop went on an excursion – by which I mean they walked from their scout hall to some close by location. And under the Scouts Australia rules you have to complete a two page medical information form EVERY TIME. Which is emailed to you, you are expected to print the form and take it with you to the scout meeting. Of course I was the one who turned it into a PDF form and started emailing them back.

I have lost count of the number of times Fiona has called, texted, emailed or stuck her head around my study door to ask “what’s our ambulance membership number?”. In our home state of Victoria everyone pays an ambulance membership fee, it’s less than $200 a year for a family, and is a darn good insurance given even a short ambulance ride can set you back more than $1,000 – with multiple kids playing contact sport it’s inevitable at some stage we’ll need to call an ambulance to some wet, cold playing field one winter.

Because I’m a smarty pants I use Evernote to hold all the essential information in my life, I even have scans of the kids’ birth certificates for when we need to complete new sport team registrations. And of course the ambulance number is in there – so I act as the collective memory for the family. Hence I often wind up completing all the forms.

Back to the kitchen counter. We had one of those synchronicity moments most long term couples share, because we literally looked at each other simultaneously and said “how come none of this is online?”.

What’s even weirder is we actually DID have the same idea six or seven years ago, although more focussed around the issue of collecting payments from parents as well as permissions. We made it as far as registering a domain, building a few sample pages, and meeting with a couple of schools, however it seemed the world was not ready, as we found little interest at that time.

Fast forward to late 2013 and again we approached schools in our local area and said “we think you have a problem with paper forms. Is this true? And if so, would you be interested if we attempted to create a solution?”. This time every school answered “yes” and “yes”.

So we spent a couple of months drafting a basic system and went back to the schools and asked “what do you think of this?”. The responses were encouraging and during the first few months of 2014 we continued to iterate and develop the platform, and tested the ideas with local schools.

Thus ParentPaperwork was born.

Our mission is simple. We want to replace paper forms in schools worldwide. We’ve spoken with schools and parents in many countries, and every single one has confirmed to us that paper forms are a time and cost burden, it makes no difference where you are– Australia, UK, New Zealand, USA, India, Saudi Arabia, Italy, Qatar, Abu Dhabi, Ireland – we have schools piloting ParentPaperwork everywhere.

In August 2014 we participated in StartUp Victoria’s inaugural pitch night, and won, adding further confirmation that ParentPaperwork resonates with almost everyone we speak to.

In December last year we closed a seed round of just over $350,000, and now we are knuckling down for the long journey to helping schools everywhere save time and money, and improve liability management, by dumping their paper forms and transitioning to our online forms platform.

We’re excited by the future for ParentPaperwork, we might be building a commercial business but when schools and parents tell us our system is making their lives so much easier, then that’s a great reward.