Education is one of those fields where change is constant and where educators move heaven and earth to make things happen.
Many moons ago, I remember proudly collecting my ‘register’ from the front office and putting in my neat rows of forward– and back-slashes. I have to admit to being slightly disappointed when we moved to an OCR system and I instead collected a single sheet of red and white paper to colour in the dots. But my excitement was reignited when they let us loose on computers and allowed us to directly enter marks in an electronic registration system.
However, like many things, they end up being specifically designed for their environment and purpose. We take registers in school, so we install the software in school, and we use it in school. Very few registration systems had moved to the cloud; they didn’t need to. And those that did possibly charged extra and, as we were all in school, we didn’t need to buy it.
Then along came covid…
Taking attendance during the current lockdown has been a complicated affair. Some students are on site and their registration not only serves a purpose for DfE statistics but also acts as the fire roll call. Alongside that schools are now being asked to register their vulnerable cohorts with specific codes and where they have provided access to technology are expecting students to attend remote sessions.
We were thrown into a remote learning environment, and then we were asked to monitor our attendance and engagement with online sessions.
I’ve watched the battle over the last few weeks, from Excel spreadsheets, using those mark pages at the back of your planner that had become obsolete over the last decade, collecting ‘attendance’ statistics from Google Classroom. And then scanning those in to send to an attendance officer sat shivering in the school office to enter onto the system. In the background, was still the issue to be addressed – that there was a statutory requirement to record and report official attendance (or should I say absence?) and that requires us to use our traditional systems. The fact census fell in the middle of this along with its requirement to report attendance on the day, was just one more hurdle.
Class Charts has an attendance module.
Class Charts is a cloud-based system.
Class Charts can write back statutory attendance (am/pm marks) to SIMS.
Class Charts is incredibly flexible in the way it can be used.
Class Charts has a number of ways to solve those problems and their communication module allows for any missing students (or their parents) to be contacted. In fact, with popular demand they’ve now added a feature whereby parents can submit an absence from the app which staff can then view, click and manage.
The recently released communications module has many more features too from two-way messaging, report cards, announcement to teachers, absence reporting, to consent forms.
I remember my Thursday mornings used to be spent analysing the current attendance data in school. Who was at risk of persistent absenteeism, who did we not have justifiable reasons for, who was raising their head as a cause for concern, who could we celebrate as having improved due to our intervention? One of the things that used to consume my time was taking those prints and spreadsheets from our MIS and seeing what would happen to our percentages if we considered things differently (ie: changed a code.) Our MIS didn’t allow for that so it was all manual calculations…but what if I could hold my statutory data safely in my MIS and record those alternative options somewhere else and be able to see the difference? Well, I can do that with Class Charts. With my SENCO hat on, the fact I have to record children who are vulnerable or have an EHCP as authorised absent on my MIS despite the fact they are attending the remote offer and just declining to attend the school, makes me feel quite sad. Being able to record their ‘attendance’ on Class Charts and using that for an analysis is so much more positive – and because we can share that data directly with parents and students, they don’t feel penalised either for making a health decision.
If you haven’t seen the attendance and communications modules within Class Charts then why not contact the team for a quick demo? firstname.lastname@example.org