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New features for 2021-22

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Firstly, welcome back. We hope you had a relaxing and refreshing summer, and managed to soak up some rays!

This blog article lists the exciting changes we’ve made to Parents Booking since last academic year. You can click on a topic below and this will open that specific change in a new blog post, usually complete with a video explainer.

Also, these are some of the things we’re looking to add ASAP this term:

  • Screen sharing and a chat box in the video meeting room.
  • Ability to email teachers their appointment schedule one-at-a-time or in bulk.
  • Parents and teachers will be able to login from RM Unify in one click.
  • Schools will be able to import Pupil Premium status for students, where wanted, to help with priority inviting or chasing parents this applies to.
  • One click data import for the following MIS/SIS school databases: Arbor, Aspen, Engage, PowerSchool and Progresso/Cloud School.
  • Making changes to teachers on the Teachers page will automatically ‘update’ in an evening, which is a big change from how the ‘logic’ of the product works currently.

Thanks for reading, and if you have any questions just let us know.

Best wishes,

Parents Booking

New Events and Clubs Module changes for 2021-22

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We’ve been hard at work upgrading the Events and Clubs module this summer, and below are a list of the changes we’ve made so far:

  • The capacity for events and clubs are now tied to the date, not the actual event, meaning where you run an event or club over multiple date ranges, with a capacity of 20 for example, this is the capacity per date now.
  • In the school’s Admin Area > Set Up School > Preferences page, there is a new text field that allows the school Admin to determine a maximum number of clubs that a student can be registered for within one group/term. This will be perfect for schools who don’t want the first parents to login to be able to book more than their fair share of clubs.
  • We have integrated with Stripe, meaning that it, ParentPay and PayPal are all ‘payment gateways’ that schools can configure to take payments online.
  • We’ve added more currencies, so that schools who operate internationally should be able to take payments in their currency.
  • Clubs and Events will very soon use the same Reg Class ‘selection’ interface as parents’ evenings, because we know from trials and feedback that this is much more popular than typing in the Reg Class names.
  • Hopefully by 1st Sept we’ll have launched a new type of Club, which allows parents to select multiple dates. This will be perfect for wraparound care, breakfast clubs and after school clubs where parents can opt students in on selected dates, rather than all dates. An example of how this will look is below.

New video meeting features for 2021-22

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As ever, we’ve been hard at work over the summer, and in this case in particular we’ve been adding lots of nice new features to our video meeting module, to improve the parent and teacher experience so that meetings are even more immersive and helpful to all participants.

  • When you hang up during a meeting, you do not leave the meeting any more. You are held in the video meeting room until your next meeting starts.
  • A countdown timer now shows how long until your next meeting starts, before or in-between meetings.
  • Parents and teachers can see if the other meetings they will have are ‘online’ or not now. A red circle icon indicates the other participant is not in their video room at this moment in time, whereas a green circle icon indicates the other participant is in their video meeting room.
  • Teachers can now click on a parent’s name, in their video meeting room’s appointment schedule, and expand more booking information, such as contact information and comments submitted by the parent.
  • Parents can share a ‘join link’ that will allow other parents to join the booked video meetings in one click, without even the need for a parent login.
  • Parents who have meetings ‘shared’ with them (by other family members) can now opt out of joining these from their Parent Dashboard > Show Appointment Schedule page.
  • The school Admin can define which region the video meetings take place in, in case this is required. See Admin Area > Set Up School > Preferences page.
  • The school Admin can see not only which parents/guardians booked and attended their meetings, but also which extra parents/guardians attended, e.g. when the meeting was shared with them. See Reports tab’s List of Attendees and similar reports, on the day after the parents’ evening, for this data.

At the time of writing we intend to add the following within the next month as well:

  • Screen sharing and a chat box in the video meeting room.
  • Better error reporting, e.g. when a video meeting cannot connect we will explain as best we can to the parent/teacher what the issue is.
  • When multiple users are in the video meeting room, we want to show you the person that is talking to you at all times, so we will code the “video area” to work this way.

Taking Bookings for COVID Testing in Parents Booking

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Do you want to facilitate booking of COVID-19 tests by parents? If so, this is the blog post for you!

Steps:

  1. Create some new teachers called “Slot 1”, “Slot 2”, or similar.
  2. Edit each, then add the students who will be booked into the “slots” using the Add Students button. You’ll probably need to add each Reg Group individually.
  3. Create a parents’ evening (with multiple dates?), ticking to include all the Reg Groups you added to the “Slots”. You may also want to set a booking limit so that parents can only book each student once (e.g. one per ‘slot’).
  4. When the parents’ evening has been set up, go to Dashboard > Options > Edit the Teachers, and remove ALL teachers and subjects except your “Slots”.
  5. You an test it works by going to Manage Booking > Login as a Parent
  6. Lastly, send parents their invite like normal, and you can monitor the sign-ups from the Reports page.

New parents’ website design

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We have recently given the parents’ area a fresh lick of paint. Below are some screenshots which show how some of the website now looks. As well as looking more modern and ‘cleaner’, the website now looks even better at mobile and tablet resolution. We hope you and your parents will appreciate the upgrade!

Setting up a video test ‘session’ between teachers and ‘fake’ parents

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Use the instructions below to set up a test without having to involve real parents. This testing process suggests diving teachers into two groups (half are to login with their usual teacher login, and half will pretend to be a fake parent):

  1. Login to Parents Booking as an admin
  2. Go to the Parents page and create (or upload, see below) some fake parents, and at the same time create fake students.
    N.B. You do not need to give the fake parents an e-mail or telephone number.
  3. Write down/remember the parent and student names and student DOBs, because the “parents” will use these as their logins later. When creating the students, add them to a new “Test” registration group, this will make the next few steps easier.
    N.B. As an alternative to creating lots of fake students, you can download and then upload this spreadsheet of fake parents (Scottish/SEEMIS schools should use this version).
  4. Go to the Teachers page and add the students from the Test reg group to the teachers who are going to be part of the test (OR make a new, fake teacher and add the students to them).
    N.B. We suggest making a new subject for each teacher called “Video Testing” and adding the ‘Test’ reg group students to this.
  5. Once the students are added to the teachers, make sure the half of the teachers who will be testing by logging in as a teacher have been sent a password or have set up their login. To do this check if the teachers have a e-mail address against their account on the Teachers page.
    If they do, you can skip this step.
    If they do not, type/paste an e-mail in for these teachers and press ‘Save Rooms/Emails’ at the top of the page to send teachers their login. This will change the ‘Login Setup’ column to a blue Password Sent message. If this is still showing red and ‘Not Configured’ you can tick these teachers and press ‘Email Password Reset’ at the top of the Teachers page.
    N.B. Make sure teachers users log out of Parents Booking, if they were logged in recently as a parent/admin/teacher, before they try to reset their password or they will not be able to set up a password from the link in the e-mail, and instead will see an ‘Access Denied’ page).
  6. Create a parents’ evening for the ‘Test’ registration group, at the dates and times you want to have a test on.
  7. Have the fake parents book some appointments, either via the admin area > Manage Booking or via the school’s parent login page, before the video meetings are scheduled to take place. Meetings which are booked become video meetings, so having bookings between teachers are parents is important.
  8. Then, lastly, have everyone login 5-15mins before their appointments and join the video calls, to make sure the video calls work.

Single sign-on with parentsportal.scot

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Parents Booking has been the innovator for software of our type since we invented the ability for parents to make their parent-teacher appointments online a decade ago. Being big thinkers as much as software developers, we’re is proud to announce a partnership with the exciting new creation in Scotland: parentsportal.scot. We are confident this parent portal will become an essential service for parents and schools as it is rolled out across Scotland’s local authorities, and simply had to be part of the revolution.

Parentsportal.scot is simple to sign up to and will give parents access to a range of school-related services online. We were thrilled to be asked to integrate our Parents Booking, and for us to be one of the first to join the project.

Our integration means that parents will be able to log into Parents Booking, to make appointments, in one click (using a secure single sign-on technology), either from the school’s Parents Booking login page, or from parentsportal.scot itself.

Being part of parentsportal.scot helps us further our commitment to schools. We are passionate about helping improve customers’ parental engagement, while also ensuring parents have the most convenient experience possible while engaging with our services.

We’ve got your School’s Events and Clubs Handled

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Some of the most-requested features we’ve received over the years are not actually to do with parents’ evenings. We get asked about helping schools with other parent-booking tasks, such as ticketed events, booking seats at a student performance, school trip sign-ups and parents booking places for their children at breakfast or after-school clubs.

We’ve taken time out from continually developing the Parents’ Evening Booking System to give schools all of the above abilities. If you’ve an event or club you want to take bookings from parents for, just ask. The bolt-on modules we’ve created to help schools with these tasks come at a fraction of the Parents’ Evening Booking System cost and can be switched on in seconds.

To learn more about either module, click below. We’ve added a video to each which guides you through how they work:

If you would like to know more, contact Will Mackenzie: will@knowledge.parents-booking.com.