Over the last few years, student management systems have become central to many schools’ administration. This article focuses on the monitoring of student attendance. In my school, we use Aladdin Schools, which is a cloud-computing solution built on Google. It allows me and my staff to do almost any form of administration that we need. However, there are a number of other similar systems out there. However, do check to see if they are able to perform the functions below.
Back in 2009, I made my own student management system using Google Apps. It was very basic and not very attractive and I needed a reason for teachers to log on to it. I asked myself what could a teacher not live without. I also wondered, what did teachers have to do everyday. The answer was take attendance so I removed the rollbooks from the classrooms and teachers took the register on my system. These days, Student Management Systems do a lot more than simply taking the register everyday. Electronically tracking attendance can be a very useful thing for a school. Here are some examples of what a Student Management System can do once it has data on attendance as well as some shortcuts for other useful information.
Quicker Attendance Call
In my school, the teachers don’t record attendance in those archaic rollbooks. I have been arguing that schools should be given a choice as to whether they fill in roll books electronically or on paper for about 4 years now and the latest I have heard is that the Department of Education are thinking about it. I could write a whole article (actually I have already) about why we need to get rid of these books but let’s focus on why checking attendance works really well using a Student Management System. Generally, a Student Management System will assume that all pupils are present on a particular day so the teacher only has to mark the children who are absent. Usually there’s not many children out of school so it just takes a few seconds. The only downside for me, is the death of the word “Anseo” everyday in the classroom. In future years, people will wonder why on earth this blog got its name!
More In-depth Attendance
Punctuality is often as bad as absence in a primary school with some children regularly coming to school late. A child who comes in 20 minutes late each day, misses almost 20% of the week, which is the equivalent of 35 days of school! Many Student Management Systems allow schools to record late attendance and then report the number of hours and minutes that the child has missed at any given point. For many families, it is a big shock to see these statistics and it can often improve punctuality.
Another useful thing that teachers can do is to record the reason why a pupil is absent. This is helpful when schools are reporting to the NEWB, which leads us on to…
Before we got our Student Management System, in order to report any pupils missing days from school, one had to fill in a form online every quarter. Through no fault of anybody, the form was quite cumbersome and with the dreadful broadband connection available in some schools, sometimes the whole process would cancel and you’d have to start again! (This happened once to me in a school with over 700 pupils.) With a Student Management System, because teachers are taking attendance online, the system can calculate which pupils have missed the 20 days and, on some systems, with a click of a button, these can be sent to the NEWB. This saves an enormous amount of time.
Schools can automatically send a text to families whenever their child is marked as absent on the roll. While in primary schools, this isn’t a huge need (as primary school pupils usually don’t skip school), it is very handy if a child misses 10 or 15 or the magic 20 days. On Aladdin, for example, you can sent an automatic text to go out to families after a certain number of days. This is useful for families who may not know how many days their child(ren) have missed.
Identify Groups of Children
In some schools, one needs to identify certain groups of children, for example in the School Completion Programme, a number of children are identified as to being at risk from non-attendance at school so it’s a good idea to be able to get statistics there. Some programmes may wish to gain percentages of attendance for particular groupings as compared with the total school population. Perhaps, a school might want to reward a particular class for good attendance and checking the average attendance of each class group might be useful too. As well as identifying groups of children, one might want to identify certain months or even children who miss particular days, e.g. Mondays and Fridays. With some Student Management Systems, this can easily be achieved.
For me, one of the most beneficial (and most frustrating) things about Student Management Systems is that many of them have the ability to print out the data needed for all the various attendance books schools have to fill in. It is beneficial as one doesn’t have to fill in the books but it is frustrating because, ultimately due to the Department of Education, you have to double-job. I have tried to argue the case that one could simply print out and glue in the attendance records in the appropriate books but this was met with a “no” from our inspector. However, even with this frustration, the job is simply one of data entry and doesn’t take up as much time as it might.
In our next article, we’ll look at some other ways that Student Management Systems can benefit a school. For me attendance tracking is by far the most useful but there are other great ways that it can save schools loads of time.
Last Update: August 20, 2017