Australia Street Infants School. What do you do if parents can’t come to you? Re-imaging the school office and the delivery of financial and administrative services to parents via e-commerce solutions . Bernard Cheng: Principal An Australia Street Infants School Experience.
Australia Street Infants School What do you do if parents can’t come to you? Re-imaging the school office and the delivery of financial and administrative services to parents via e-commerce solutions. Bernard Cheng: Principal An Australia Street Infants School Experience
Schools traditionally are… • Schools are very good at considering and delivering continual improvement to: • Teacher quality • Student outcomes and achievement • Building positive and productive relationships with parents. • However until recently …. • We have not really considered in close relief how our school offices operate and how the administrative services they provide could be more effectively delivered beyond OASIS.
So where is our thinking at … • Currently we are thinking globally about … • Learning Management Business Reform (LMBR) • Student Administration Learning Management (SALM) • These projects are focussing on system wide thinking with a view to integrating the multitude of DET systems for payroll, HR, finance, and student management in a more efficient and integrated way.
So where is our thinking at … • Through initiatives such as the Principal Innovations Network (PIN) we are participating in the development of these new systems informing the process of ... • What schools require to effectively support their “business requirements” at the point of service delivery not only as it relates to; efficient financial management & reporting but ultimately supporting how parents expect to interact with us. • This is giving us a frame to consider and question at the local school level: • How do we support efficient financial management practices in the office? • What support do we need to provide to parents to engage with us? • What systems do we need to do this effectively?
So where is our thinking at … To do this effectively we need to reflect on the issues ...
What are the issues? • In regard to the school office we understand and acknowledge that … • School Administration Managers are required to simultaneously manage multiple tasks accurately and efficiently in a busy and unpredictable environment that include: • - Very prescriptive and inflexible methodologies for completing school finance activities • - The phone • - Walk in traffic (Parents and Prospective Parents) • - Teachers and students.
What are the issues? • However have we considered that … • The average continuous time a SAM spends on a task in a day is approximately 15 minutes. • Most financial tasks undertaken have on average 4 interruptions prior to being completed from disparate sources. • Continued Interruptions lead to inefficient workflows with high unnecessary error rates.
What are the issues? • Parents… • are increasingly time poor • find it difficult to interact with schools during operational hours due to increasing work commitments • want to be able to interact dynamically with their school online much the same was as we expect to be able to do so with institutions that we need to access after our school day!
What are the issues? Our administrative systems generally have not addressed these as issues for consideration and operate on the premise that …
What are the issues? Parents are required to come into the school office to complete administrative tasks or if they can’t, expect students to be able to interact in their behalf either directly or via a teacher.
What are the issues? These are critical issues for to be solved in a school office context.
What are the issues? • Schools need to respond to: • Parent difficulties in accessing the office during school hours. • Whilst introducing: • Administrative systems that introduce work flow efficiencies. • That is to: • Increase productive on-task time for the SAM through common task automation, allowing for asynchronous batch processing of tasks whilst reducing the need for parental face to face contact in the school office.
What is the solution? Web delivery of administrative and e-commerce functions via dynamic and functional websites.
Web delivery of administrative functions • Web delivery of administrative functions is an opportunity to provide a dynamic and scalable solution that can be developed to meet these conflicting needs… • Through the development of: • An online information and financial management system built on a self service client based information ownership model. • This allows users to freely interact and maintain their own information via self registration and secure log in.
Online services and information ownership • This model effectively manages: • Double handling of information and tasks • Input data error • Information loss. • Most importantly: • Relieves the SAM of common tasks that can be automated and consolidated for management at more opportune times freeing up time for other more complex concentration intensive tasks • re-frames SAM attention to data manipulation rather than input • allows for asynchronous task completion removing the on demand aspects of parent interactions in the office.
Online services and information ownership User Interface Office Interface User Data SQL Web Server Data creation, access & self management Data access & user management Creation Access
Australia Street Infants School What we have done at Australia Street Infants School A little background information
School Context • School Size • PP5 • School Programs • Lennox House – Schools as Communities Centre (400 registered families) • Pre-School (20 Enrolments) • K- 2 Infants School (110 Enrolments) • SASS Allocation • 1 x SAM • 1 x 0.4 SAO (2 days per week)
School Population Demographic • Inner city families with one or more parents working in a combination of full and part time capacities. • Average of 2 children per family. • 50% of children in Pre-School to Year 2 attend before and after school care 5 days per week with another 30% of children picked up and dropped of to schools by other families by arrangement. • Parents indicate that they are time poor with considerable work and financial commitments making visiting the school office to settle accounts or hand in notes very difficult.
School Office Issues • High loss rate of notes going home and school activity fees being payed chronically late due to parents not being able to get to school. • Limited SASS assistance for the School Administration Manager. • Consistent interruptions from parents, teachers and students throughout the day prohibiting concentration intensive tasks from being successfully completed during school hours. • Maintenance of an effective communication strategy with families attending our community programs whilst maintaining an effective relationship with our waiting list.
School Office Issues • Most importantly though … • Reduce the stress levels of the • School Administration Manager!
Another interesting issue to consider… The phone will always ring and Parents work during school hours.
The development of our e-commerce services • Phase 1 • Developed a scope for a website that would be able to provide Secure e-commerce functionality to parents 24 hours / 7 days per week. • This required an understanding of key stakeholders that would interact with our website and their particular needs …
Website stakeholders and functional use Provision of financial services to parents 24/7 Increased access to school office functions whilst reducing face to face and phone contact as primary means of interaction Automation of information gathering, manipulation and storage School policy access management (downloads) Email as a strategy for developing effective relationships with our enrolment waiting lists and registration lists School shop News & current events Student learning support and image galleries E-forms for parent RSVP / Notifications School promotion Provisional enrolment management (User managed) Program registrations (User managed) School information access and interaction
Key functionalities that were identified Capacity to: - Submit provisional enrolments and registrations online - Pay school activity fees and Pre-School fees - Purchase School Uniforms online - Access school policy information and news on demand - Electronic return of notes to school - Maintain effective communication with families that attend school programs on a casual basis - Maintain an effective relationship with our waiting lists - Functional Scalability . All functionality to be remote managed and monitored via a Blackberry / PDA
The development of our e-commerce services • Crucially at this stage you are the expert! • You do not need to be a web designer or programmer to develop your school website … You just need to know what questions to ask to those with professional skills to assist you. • Equally web designers are not Educationalists and require the input from professionals in the field to develop appropriate tools that work. • This partnership between Technical and Educational is critical to success
The development of our e-commerce services • This led to a partnership with Australia Street Infants School and Razorcorp ( web development consultants) • Australia Street Infants School Input (Me) • Website functionality requirements and architecture • All web design work • Technical Customisation (programming) of open source software • Razorcorp Input • Technical assistance in sourcing open source solutions • SQL Server setup and basic software deployment • Ongoing technical assistance
How our site fits with DET and Us DET Web server (Passive) Hosted SQL Server (Dynamic) www.australist-p.schools.nsw.edu.au www.australiastreetschool.com Content fail safe If one server goes down users can be redirected to view static content on either server • Static pages Mirrored here • Display of Static pages • Dynamic pages redirect to Hosted Server • Maintains DET Web address (Important) • Public dynamic content served from here • School interaction with dynamic content here
So what does this site offer? • Clear and easy navigation. • School Shop. • Online self managed enrolment & registration databases with user login. • e-forms for student note returns and RSVP to school functions. • Structured download database. • News Blog. • School Calendar.
Online School Shop • For Parents: • Provides a service to parents to pay school activity fees and/or purchase school uniforms and other school related items outside of school hours at a time convenient to them. • Receive email updates in regard to the status of their order including generation of receipts sent via email.
Online School Shop • For the school: • Generation of payment certificates that allow for easy input into an EFTPOS terminal and receipted into OASIS (presently) with the ideal being integrated with new LMBR systems to provide live financial data to be interfaced with the school accounts systems • Generation of order invoices and delivery slips. • Email notification and online tracking of order status. • Automated stock control.
Online enrolment and registrations Server • For Parents: • Allows parents to submit provisional enrolments or registrations for our community programs directly to the school server outside of school and office hours. • Parents are provided with a log in to self manage their submitted information over the life of their record being held on the server. • Parents receive regular enrolment emails as well as previous and current sent message automatically being added to a recent mailings page on the website. • 100% accuracy of information and 0% loss.
Online enrolment and registrations Servers • For the school: • Provisional Enrolment and Lennox House Registration information is submitted to and stored on the web server in a SQL database ensuring 100% accuracy of client information and 0% loss. • All records held on the server can be emailed allowing potential parents to receive regular enrolment news and updates. • School is notified via email of any changes made to an enrolment record or when a new record is submitted. • All applications submitted can be sorted and downloaded as an excel spread sheet eg: date submitted, local/non local, siblings etc allowing for efficient and accurate determinations for enrolments to be made.
E-forms • For Parents • Development of “e-forms” that allow parents to submit returns for any school activity. • Provides a mechanism to submit an online student absence explanation, and enrolment into parent workshops as well as RSVP’s to school functions.
E-forms • For the school • Significantly reduces the number of hand written or return slips that are required to be physically sorted by the class teacher and submitted to the office for collation. • Provides a mechanism via dropdown fields for e-forms to be either emailed to the school admin area or directly to the class teacher. • High percentage of notes returned on time as parents again are able to access and return required RSVP’s, permissions slips outside core school hours. • All returns stored in a SQL Database for easy retrieval, sorting & storage.
School download database • For Parents • Implementation of a structured download database that allows for all of our school documentation and multimedia files such as podcasts. MP3 files and streaming movies to be accessed 24 hours / 7 days per week. • Access to important school information eg: enrolment policies quickly and easily leading to an enhancement of understanding of school policy based decision making.
School download database • For the school • Provides an easy and accessible repository of important and regularly requested information leading to better communication of school policy perspectives to parents. • Allows the capacity to stream multimedia files of school events to the school community and around the world.
Screen Shots :: School download page All school information is publicly available for download. Very little is actually available in hardcopy form at school.
Other functionalities • School Blog and class Blog pages • School Newsletters and important current events are posted to a whole school blog page weekly. • Class teachers maintain a weekly class Blog that communicates what children are learning including the capacity for moderated parent comments. • School Calender • merges multiple stakeholder calendars via colour coding for keeping track of all school events. • Both of these functionalities allow parents to subscribe to RSS feeds direct to their Computer or Smartphone each time a new event is added.