School Management software or school student information system
Over the last year or so, principals and teachers around the country have got very excited by school management systems. Basically, a school management system allows users to have access to any administrative information about the school. For example, phone numbers of parents, attendance records and school policies can be accessed with a click or two of a button. There are some school management system options out there, each with their own merits. In this article, I look at the ten things every school management system should have.
1. Electronic Rollbook This is the main reason I decided to get my school management system for my school despite the fact we still have to fill out the traditional roll book. A good electronic rollbook will balance the numbers at the end of each term to save teachers hours of frustration. Clever rollbooks will take very little extra time to fill out if everyone is deemed to be automatically present initially. Therefore, a teacher can simply mark who is absent.
2. Electronic Noticeboard We don’t use the whiteboard in the staffroom for messages and notices. Our school management system contains an electronic noticeboard. This means that anybody can post a notice up about anything. Another advantage is that people can reply to notices. We have used this to do anything from posting up web links of interest to organising staff nights out. I also find that it cuts out the invisible hierarchy that traditional whiteboards seem to create.
3. Integration with Google Calendar In my opinion, Google do the best calendar. If one can share their school calendar with any other calendar in their lives and allow it to appear on the school management system, then it’s a win-win for me. A stand alone calendar is acceptable.
4. Cloud-based If I want to access information about my school, I’m not necessarily in the school when I want it. Cloud-based school management systems allow me to access the information anywhere including my phone. Those who don’t sell cloud-based systems will argue that security could be an issue. I believe this argument to be dated as cloud-based solutions are now recognised as being extremely secure.
5. Easy printing of class lists There are so many times in the year where schools are asked to send lists of pupils to different agencies. A good school management system will allow you to create lists on the fly, for example: anyone who goes on the bus, any child under the age of 6, etc. It is also a good idea if only certain information that’s needed can be filtered rather than having to print every detail of every child.
6. Search Function This is probably more applicable to bigger schools but if young Johnny Murphy has smashed his head open, the quickest way to get his mother’s phone number would be to simply use a Google-style search function for his name. Other useful search ideas would be for any keyword in documents, policies, etc.
7. Document Storage Being able to store documents in a school management system is a handy feature. For example, I can store all the school’s policies in one place for teachers to look at. Google Docs is an even more powerful solution, so integration with that would be even better. However, even better again would be the ability to store assessment results, for example MIST, Sigma-T, etc. Better again would be comparison lists of results of these assessments. Another document to store might be children’s reports each year. A report generator would be a welcome addition as these take ages!
8. Social Bookmarking I don’t think any school management system has this feature but teachers love sharing links to good web sites. Through tagging bookmarks, a nice list for any school could be very useful. If this was shared amongst the whole community of other schools, a huge databank of good links to web sites could grow extremely quickly. Right now
9. Money Collection There are times in the year that children give teachers money. It is nice to have a list of your class online where you can enter what they have paid you and when. Again clever use of lists can make this very effective.
10. Yard Duty Timetable Every school does yard duty so why not have it on a school management system. Even better, the school management system could automatically generate a fair timetable for all teachers and even calculate the number of hours completed. There’s plenty of other things a school management system offers and these are just some of the many features that they generally have. However, I think it is best that school management system stick to administration options and shouldn’t try to do too much, for example lesson planning. As is tradition with these top ten lists, I have to put in a bonus item. so here goes: Bonus Item: Parent Teacher Meeting Timetable Generator Trying to timetable parents for parent teacher meetings is one big nightmare. One has to fit siblings together. One also has to make sure that support staff get to talk to parents after (or before) the teacher. It takes hours to get it manually, and even then there’s tonnes of mistakes.
As a school management system will have access to each child and their relationship to their siblings in the school as well as support details, a computer programme might have more luck.