The online rollbook is coming
Last week, at the IPPN conference, words that I never thought I would hear in my career were uttered by Sean Ó Foghlú, the General Secretary of the Department of Education. Ó Foghlú said that the Department of Education are now looking at digitising the school roll book. I have been harping on for a number of years about why the school roll book is now out of date and unnecessary. I have explained that our school takes attendance using the wonderful Aladdin Management Information System, (MIS), which not only calculates the day’s attendance, it also balances the numbers at the end of the year and also collates a number of other important documents, such as NEWB returns and October Census details.
Most MIS packages offer an online rollbook now so many schools take their attendance on it as well as having to fill out the paper-based roll book, an annoying waste of time and resources.
In making this online rollbook, I hope the Department of Education are not going to make a mess of introducing it when so many of us are already working on a system that we are happy with and that is very effective. I hope that the Department of Education are not going to pay a company a load of money to develop a new system when many schools are already using a system they are happy with. I hope the Department decide to utilise what is already there and have some way that we can upload our attendances using our current systems.
At this stage, what should an online roll book do and what features should it have? Here is 10 things on my list:
- Cut out unnecessary work. In other words, let’s assume children are in school and only mark absentees.
- Allow for schools to record lateness as well as absence.
- Integrate well with reporting strategies, such as school returns, NEWB returns, etc.
- Automatically update other rollbook data such as the Clár Leabhar and Clár Tinnreamh
- Make it accessible – a mobile phone app for recording attendance would be good or even the ability for a child to scan themselves into school?
- Ability to track school leavers and automatically inform schools when a child has moved from another school
- Parental links – parents can send in absence notes or add reasons for absences
- Automatic ability to send NEWB notices after 20 days of absence
- Text a parent when child is absent from school (for free!)
- Integrate with existing MIS packages
If anyone has any other ideas for an online rollbook and what you’d like to see in it, I’d love to hear from you.