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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 instructions feature two possible solutions. We call them the SIMS solution (which uses 1 spreadsheet) and the SEEMIS solution (which uses 2 spreadsheets). If one does not suit your MIS/SIS databases’ export capabilities, try the other.

Option 1: The SIMS Solution (1 Spreadsheet)

This option is more complex than option 2, but creates one spreadsheet which links a student to one or two parents/carers and all of their teachers. There are two ‘styles’ possible, one which shows the student and parent on every row, and one where the teachers/classes are listed on otherwise blank rows between each student, but both work in the same way.

Download spreadsheet template (style 1) OR Download spreadsheet template (style 2)

The data fields required are:

  • Student ID
  • Student Forename
  • Student Surname
  • Student Date of Birth (dd/mm/yyyy)
  • Student Reg Group / Year Group
  • Parent/carer 1 ID
  • Parent/carer 1 Username (not required, but keep column)
  • Parent/carer 1 Title
  • Parent/carer 1 Forename
  • Parent/carer 1 Surname
  • Parent/carer 1 Mobile/Telephone
  • Parent/carer 1 E-Mail
  • Parent/carer 2 ID
  • Parent/carer 2 Username (not required, but keep column)
  • Parent/carer 2 Title
  • Parent/carer 2 Forename
  • Parent/carer 2 Surname
  • Parent/carer 2 Mobile/Telephone
  • Parent/carer 2 E-Mail
  • Department
  • Subject
  • Class Code
  • Teacher ID
  • Teacher Name
  • Room (not required, but keep column)

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

Save this spreadsheet as a .CSV file by going to File > Save As.. and underneath the file name choose “.CSV (Comma Delimited)”.

Option 2: The SEEMIS Solution (2 Spreadsheets)

This option involves two spreadsheets, but is easier for some MIS/SIS databases. The logic is that spreadsheet 1 lists the pupils and parents, and spreadsheet 2 links the students to their classes and teachers using the ID number.

Download spreadsheet 1 template and Download spreadsheet 2 template

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/carer Title
  • Parent/carer Forename
  • Parent/carer Surname
  • Parent/carer Mobile/Telephone
  • Parent/carer Email

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 by going to File > Save As.. and underneath the file name choose “.CSV (Comma Delimited)”.

The data fields required for spreadsheet 2 are:

  • Student ID
  • Class Code
  • Teacher Title
  • Teacher Forename
  • Teacher Surname
  • Subject Name

Save this spreadsheet as a .CSV file by going to File > Save As.. and underneath the file name choose “.CSV (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.

– 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.

– Finally, we are also using Twilio’s Irish (“ie1”) “media servers”, which use the Twilio IP address ranges listed below:
52.215.253.0 – 52.215.253.63
54.171.127.192 – 54.171.127.255
52.215.127.0 – 52.215.127.255
3.249.63.128 – 3.249.63.255
But sometimes connections are from Germany as well, and so it might be advantageous to use these (“de1”) IPs as well:
52.59.186.0 – 52.59.186.31
18.195.48.224 – 18.195.48.255
18.156.18.128 – 18.156.18.255

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 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.