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October 2020

Creating a .CSV file to upload your school’s pupils, parents and classes

By News and Info No Comments

Schools who use MIS/SIS databases that do not integrate with Parents Booking can create a custom .CSV file that can be uploaded. This blog post features instructions on how to create your own .CSV upload.

This two-spreadsheet approach involves linking two spreadsheets using pupil, parent and teacher IDs.

Spreadsheet 1 lists all of the pupils and parents, while spreadsheet 2 links the students to their classes and creates the teachers’ accounts (using the student ID number to link both spreadsheets).

To begin with, please download our spreadsheet 1 template and our spreadsheet 2 template. These are vital to your success.

The data fields required for spreadsheet 1 are:

  • Student ID
  • Student Forename
  • Student Surname
  • Student Date of Birth (dd/mm/yyyy)
  • Student Registration Group or Year Group
  • Parent ID
  • Parent/carer Title
  • Parent/carer Forename
  • Parent/carer Surname
  • Parent/carer Mobile/Telephone
  • Parent/carer Email
  • Emergency Priority Number (schools usually denote a ‘Main Contact’ as priority 1, and lower priority parents as 2, 3, 4, etc. If you are uploading multiple parents for a student, you will see in our spreadsheet example that you do this by adding each parent to a new line, with the same student details on each row. Giving one of the parents priority 1 in this column will help us understand who the ‘main contact’ is).
  • Receives Email? (Set everyone to “TRUE” in this column unless you have some parents who do not wish to be contacted by email, in which case set them to “FALSE”).

You can list a pupil on two different rows to link them to 2nd parent/carer.

Rules: Do not extract parent/carers who do not have “parental responsibility” / legal rights.

Save this spreadsheet as a .CSV file (in UTF-8 Format if possible) by going to File > Save As.. and underneath the file name choose “.CSV UTF-8 (Comma Delimited)”.

The data fields required for spreadsheet 2 are:

  • Student ID
  • Teacher ID
  • Teacher Title
  • Teacher Forename
  • Teacher Surname
  • Teacher’s Email Address
  • Subject Name
  • Class Code

Again, save this spreadsheet as a .CSV file (in UTF-8 Format if possible) by going to File > Save As.. and underneath the file name choose “.CSV UTF-8 (Comma Delimited)”.

These spreadsheets are then uploaded in the following order:

  1. Spreadsheet 1 – Pupils and Parents
  2. Spreadsheet 2 – Classes

Asking for parent phone numbers, for telephone meetings

By Software Updates No Comments

If you would like to use Parents Booking to help facilitate telephone meetings, in the place of ‘in-person’ meetings, or video meetings, we can help.

In the Admin Area, go to: Set Up School > Parent Login Method. On this page tick “Mobile Phone”.

This will activate a new field on the parent login page which asks for the parent’s mobile number. The mobile number input by the parent will then show on the teachers’ appointment schedule. Et voila!

How to Run a Video Call Test

By News and Info

We recommend that schools run tests of video call module before using it for real parents’ evenings, to ensure it will work as well as can be on the day.

It is also vital that networks/firewalls are configured to ‘allow’ the video calls to take place on the school’s network and teacher ‘devices’ (see more on this at the bottom of this article).

The two tests we suggest are below:

Test One: Run a Network test using the Twilio Network Tester:

https://networktest.twilio.com/
Please also note the information at the bottom of this post about information for your IT team.

Test Two: Test with Teachers

Schools should check that the devices teachers plan to use are compatible with the video call technology. This can be done simply by asking teachers to login to their Parents Booking account and click the ‘Video Settings’ button on their Dashboard. This will allow them to test their internet browser is compatible, and that their webcam and microphone work. Teachers can also run the ‘network test’ detailed in Test One above.

The instructions (PDF file) for teachers on how to join the video calls goes into further detail on internet browser and device compatibility.

This blog post details how to set up a more cumbersome but in-depth test, where you set up fake parent accounts and have teachers and ‘fake parents’ book appointments between each other.

Information for your IT/server team:

Media / UDP Network Settings :

– Schools need to allow Port 443 / HTTPS traffic and IT/network teams should be aware these video calls will happen over an encrypted peer-to-peer (P2P) connection, making any network adjustments required.

– Ensure *.Twilio.com URLs are whitelisted.

– Crucially, we advise whitelisting the most local “media servers” from this list of Twilio IP address ranges. You can also go to your school’s Parents Booking ‘admin area’ > Set Up School page > Preferences page button (bottom left corner, orange button) and choose a region to match the IPs you have whitelisted, rather than using the default “Global Low Latency”, if you want to be certain about which IPs should be whitelisted and will be used.

– Smoothwall/firewall users should add Twilio.com to ‘authentication exceptions’ in Smoothwall’s policies. Some Smoothwall users have also had to modify the’ default outgoing policy’ to allow ‘any internal interfaces’ to access ‘any external interfaces’.

– Our video meetings through Twilio.com generate lots of UDP connections, which school firewalls (or ISP DDOS blocking software) may well be setup to block/drop if they consider them to be a UDP flood attack, and we have seen this on rare occasions. Consider disabling UDP flood protection, or adding Twilio.com as an exception to this part of your firewall, if you find (while using the Twilio Network Test) that the number of UDP connections allowed is much lower than it should be, or if video/audio quality is poor during real video meetings (because these should be crystal clear). Video meetings with anything less than a perfect video, or where the audio and video are not in sync, should be taken as a clue to some sort of disruption caused possibly by a factor such as this.

– We’re also aware that adding chunderw-vpc-gll.twilio.com into to the SSL Inspection exceptions for a firewall has been of significant help to some schools, including those who use Sophos SG UTM as their firewall.

– We are also aware that some schools/local authorities need to ‘allow’ “amazonws.com” to be able to connect to the Twilio servers. We are learning more about why, but assume this is because Twilio use Amazon AWS servers.

– In one case a Scottish local authority has to allow “Dublin.turn.twillio.com” direct out of the firewall, and so this is being noted here in case it is of use for others too.

Information for Edinburgh Council schools:

At the time of writing schools/teachers should not use the LTAD network for their view meetings as this seems to be blocking the video meetings (although it does seem to work at some schools). Please advise teachers to use either the LTAP_P or LT_Open networks.

Information for South Ayrshire Council schools:

We have been asked to make sure schools are aware that software called Zscaler, on teachers’ devices/computers, needs be have a blue icon showing in the bottom right corner of teachers’ Windows task bar, meaning it is enabled. If the icon is grey it has not been enabled and would not allow the video call to take place.

Information for HP Laptops/Computers

One school has reported that where there were issues with the camera and mic not working on HP laptops and computers, this was resolved by removing the Cyberlink YouCam application.