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Software Updates

Information on the latest software upgrade from our technical team.

Summer 2022 Updates

By Software Updates

Hello and welcome back!

We hope you had a really refreshing summer, and if possible that you found yourself sipping a piña colada on a beach somewhere!

While you were away, we were busy adding more features to help you make this the best year of parents’ evenings yet.

Here’s a quick summary:

We are certain Hybrid parents’ evenings are the best way to achieve the highest attendance possible. Schools who pay for the video module can now set up Hybrid meetings. Just create a different block of time for each “session” and decide which are video sessions and which are in-person. The video to the right explains more about this great news functionality.

Free trial of our basic Events and Clubs module through to 1st January 2023. This module usually costs an additional 25p per student, per year, but we wanted all schools who don’t currently pay for the premium version of this module to have the benefit of the basic version, to help them set up events, clubs and their Christmas performances. Read more about how it works here: https://parents-booking.com/events-and-clubs

Custom Groups: If your school sets up and uses ‘Custom Groups’ in its MIS database, you can import these using our Wonde integration (and we’ll add this functionality to other integrations soon).
More info on how to import and use Custom Groups here: https://knowledge.parents-booking.com/importing-and-using-custom-groups/

Teacher First Name or Initial? Schools who import their data via Wonde can now choose whether to show the the teacher’s forename or initial to parents. This was important for some schools, who wanted to show an Initial rather than Forename. Change this by going to Set Up School > Preferences page.

Updated Guides: We have also significantly updated these important guides to reflect lots of new functionality added to Parents Booking over the last year.

Importing and Using ‘Custom Groups’

By Software Updates

Schools who create and use ‘Custom Groups’ in their MIS database can now import these into Parents Booking.

Part One – Checking your Custom Groups have imported

Once Custom Groups have been imported, you will be able to see them on the ‘Teachers’ page, by clicking ‘Edit Class Codes’.

The search box on the Edit Class Codes page will then let you search for the Custom Groups.

Please be aware that you can edit the students in Custom Groups in Parents Booking (without this affecting the Custom Groups in our MIS database), but you cannot change the Custom Groups’ names, to make sure there is no confusion between what is in the school’s MIS db and Parents Booking.

If you click “Create New Class Code” on the Edit Class Codes page, this will allow you to create a group of students. This can be used for parents’ evenings OR to set up/include in Events or Clubs that are set up. More on this point later.

N.B. If your school imports its data into Parents Booking via Wonde, Custom Groups will be imported automatically if your Wonde ‘integration’ with your school’s database has access to these groups. If these groups are not importing, contact support@parents-booking.com and we will submit a Wonde support ticket on your behalf to ‘fix’ things so that these Custom Groups start to import.

Part Two – Creating an Event/Club with your Custom Groups

Now you can go to the Events and Clubs tab (if your school does not have this module active, you can contact sales@parents-booking.com for information on how to add these features, and any costs that might be associated) and create a new Event or Club.

When selecting from the ‘Year, Reg and/or Classes’ section, you can search for your Custom Groups and they will be shown. You can select as many of these as required, and all the students in them will be ‘bookable’ by their parents. This means that only the parents of these students can see/book tickets/places for these events and clubs.

If you ever create your own Class Code in the ‘Edit Class Codes’ page (see above, on the Teachers page), these class codes will also be shown as an option when selecting students for your events and clubs.

Spring 2022 Software Update

By Software Updates

1. New ‘Edit the Teachers’ page design and functionality

This is one of the most complex and sophisticated changes we have made to Parents Booking since it was created. It is designed to help schools set up parents’ evenings in a simpler, more logical way. It should also help schools who have many ‘shared’ classes select which teachers to make ‘active’ for the parents’ evening, and how to manage ‘shared’ classes, e.g. do the parents book 2+ teachers together (for one single appointment) or separately.

Intro: This functionality will work especially well for schools who have ‘shared’ classes if the school uploads not only their ‘Main Class Teachers’, but all teachers for all class codes. If your Admin user un-ticks the ‘Main Class Teacher’ tick box on the Upload Data page (if shown), and runs an automatic data upload, most school MIS databases will then upload all teachers for all classes, making it easier for schools to see which classes are ‘shared’, and giving them all the options they require to set up the appointment booking rules as wanted.

For example, you can set up one ‘shared’ class code to book two teachers together for all appointments, while setting up another class code to only allow parents to book one or the other teacher. You can even set up a class code so parents can book as many of the teachers as they want for this subject.

How does this new page layout work?

  • The new Edit the Teachers page design shows and sorts the data by class code, where these were not displayed before.
  • You can sort the columns alphabetically by clicking column headers, e.g. Subject Name
  • All class codes begin ‘ticked’. Where a class code is ticked, that teacher is a booking option for parents.
  • Un-tick the teacher name(s) beside a class code to ‘deactivate’ a teacher. This will mean they are not shown as a booking option to parents. Press ‘Save Changes’ when finished.
  • You can un-tick or tick teachers even after appointment booking has begun. Teachers who have no appointments will not be shown as being ‘in’ the parents’ evening, whereas teachers who have appointments and are then un-ticked will no longer be shown to parents who login to make more appointments, but will still be expected to attend appointments (unless the school cancels these).
  • You can add a class code to any teacher at any time via the Teachers page. Once you do, use the red ‘Review Changes’ banner at the top of the website (which shows after changes are made on the Teachers page) to add that teacher/class to the parents’ evening, if applicable. The teacher will be added to the parents’ evening as a ‘ticked’ option, meaning they become immediately available to book by parents. If the class code you add to a teacher is already linked to another teacher in the evening, and they are ‘active’ (ticked), you can then choose how to share these appointments.
  • ‘Shared’ classes can be set up to either book the parents’ appointments against all ticked teachers (meaning that a video meeting can feature 2+ teachers with the parent[s]) OR can be set up so that appointments are made separately against one or more teachers. Select the Yes/No options for class codes that are listed against 2+ teachers to determine the rules for this class code’s parent appointments.

This functionality is still very new, and although it has been being tested for months by our developers and testers, we ask you to let us know if you have any issues using it.

If you have parents’ evenings set up already, these should be unaffected by these changes.

We also intend to quickly release a ‘flag’ which shows which of the teachers is the ‘Main Class Teacher’, but this is still in development, owing to our need to code this separately for every school database integration we offer.

2. Share your screen in video meetings

A new ‘share your screen’ icon in the parent and teacher video meeting rooms will allow you to select content (either other tabs in your internet browser, or other open documents on your computer, or your desktop/screen) while in video meetings. Activate and turn off by using the button indicated in these screenshots.

The screen, tab or document you share will then be shown as a new ‘window’ in the video meeting, which can be clicked on to be viewed as the ‘main video source’ by the other participant(s) in the video meeting.

N.B. This functionality only works on laptops and PCs currently, not smartphones or tablets.

3. Blur your background in video meetings

A new ‘background blur’ icon in the parent and teacher video meeting rooms will allow you to blur your background while in video meetings. Activate and turn off by using the button indicated in this screenshot:

4. Create ‘Custom’ Class Codes / Edit Class Codes

A new ‘Edit Class Codes’ button on the Teachers page now lists all of the class codes which have been uploaded to Parents Booking, either from a data import or those which were created by the Admin when making changes to teachers/class lists.

You can use this new page to search for a class code, and add/remove students from those, OR you can use it to create your own ‘custom’ class codes, which you can then add to teachers. Because of the new ‘Edit the Teachers’ page, we want every teachers to have a ‘class code’ for all groups of students they teach, to make it easier for you to activate/deactivate, transfer and share appointments, but in the future the Custom Class Codes you make will also be able to be used to create special parents’ evenings, events, clubs or trips.

5. Other miscellaneous changes

On the ‘Set Up School’ > Preferences button page, in the admin area, we have added a number of features which schools have been requesting:

  • You can hide the ‘Select All’ button which is shown on the parents’ ‘Suggest Bookings for Me’ page. This will help where schools want parents to hand-pick the classes they want to book, or where schools fear parents will just try to book every possible option.
  • Depending on your school’s MIS database, you may not be able to select whether Parents Booking imports the Subject Name or Subject Description field. This is something some Arbor-using schools had asked for.

In the Reports tab:

  • Schools that use the Events and Clubs module will now be able to bulk-download all sign-ups they have received, which is helpful where a school has many clubs or events setup at one time.

In the video meeting room:

  • A new ‘Diagnostics’ button will help a user understand the cause of any connection issues they have, e.g. broadband bandwidth, jitter and other similar connection issues.

If your school uploads CSV spreadsheets and does NOT use SIMS or SEEMIS, there is a new CSV Upload format which we can move you to, which we call “Aspen”, which brings with is numerous improvements, in particular being able to bulk-upload teacher email addresses. Instructions are here, but it is important that you let us know you want to switch so we can change your upload type to ‘Aspen’ in our school management area.

6. We’re working on these changes now / Coming soon:

  • We are prioritising adding more functionality to help schools run a ‘hybrid’ parents’ evening (of video and in-person meetings).
  • We will be refining the red ‘notifications’ banner functionality, expanding the scope of its use and pairing this with a more automatic data import (where we hunt specifically for changes in the school’s database). This is a big job and may take several months to fully release.
  • Very soon we will soon also add an option here to allow a school to choose the teacher naming convention used, e.g. [Title] [Forename] [Surname], or [Title] [Initial] [Surname].
  • One of the most-requested changes of late is being able to search for a student more easily on certain pages, e.g. ‘Login as a Parent’. We are prioritising this change.
  • We will show which is the Main Class Teacher on the new Edit the Teachers page
  • iSAMS and Bromcom schools will soon be shown which is the Main Contact for each student on the ‘Send Invite to Parents’ page
  • Where a teacher works at multiple schools, we will make it easier for them to switch between those schools
  • We will soon add the ‘Pupil Premium’ flag for associated students to the ‘Send Invite to Parents’ and some Reports pages, e.g. Chase Parents, BUT only for schools who want to import and show this in their Admin area.
  • We will add the Buffer Time setting to the teachers’ ‘Create 1-to-1 Meetings’ page
  • Facility to email teachers their appointment schedules in bulk
  • Allow parents to RSVP ‘no’ to invites, so that the school knows the parent will not be attending
  • We are still building a new calendar booking interface for Clubs
  • We are considering building an interviews module, and would welcome feedback from schools who would be interested in this. It would allow a school to set up an event with a calendar interface, ‘interviews’ input their availability, allowing parents to pick dates/times ‘interviewers’ make themselves available, and then convert these appointments into video meetings if applicable.
  • Our next long-term project is a complete admin area website design overhaul. Designs have been agreed and the coding will begin soon. We hope to launch this in summer 2022.
Submit your feature request here

Create your own Custom ‘Class Codes’

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As part of a wider movement of changes to make moving groups or classes of students from one teacher to another, a new change has been added this weekend. You can now name changes you make, e.g. adding a portion of a subject, class, year group or reg group for selected students, when adding these to a new teacher.

The benefit of doing this will become more clear very soon, when we release a big software update, but now, when viewing a list of Class Codes in your parents’ evening (E.g. Dashboard > Options > Edit the Tecahers > Download Classes) you will see your ‘customisations’ as well as the class codes that have been imported from your school’s curriculum automatically.

To augment this new feature, we will soon be releasing a new page which will allow an Admin to see a database of all Class Codes that have either been imported from your school’s database, OR created as a ‘custom’ class code using this new feature. You will also be able to add students to Class Codes and review which teachers the Class Codes are “linked” to.

The screenshot below shows where you can create a custom Class Code name for the change(s) you make.

Red ‘Review/Confirm Teacher Assignments’ Banner

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Something that we want to make much easier for schools is changing a teacher or class assignment AFTER a parents’ evening has been set up. This has long been a goal of ours, because in the past schools had to go to the Dashboard > Options > Edit the Teachers page and press ‘Update’ to review and import changes.

A new, red ‘Review/Confirm Teacher Assignments’ banner will now show any time the school Admin make changes to teachers/classes on the Teachers page, helping schools apply changes to evenings they have previously set up, more easily.

For example, if you add a class or student to a teacher, or create a new teacher, or move/copy a class code to a new teacher, if you delete a teacher, these changes will all be shown on a red ‘Review/Confirm Teacher Assignments’ banner, which shows at the top of every page until these changes are either ‘applied’ to one or more of the evenings to which they might have an effect, or until they are ‘ignored’.

We hope schools will find this very helpful when making changes.

Emails are now being sent from parents-booking.co.uk

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New for July 2021, emails from Parents Booking will now be sent from the domain name @parents-booking.co.uk rather than @netmedia.co.uk

This is a simple change, but a nice one.

Parents, Teachers and school Admins have been being sent emails from our parent company’s email address for about a decade, and it occurred to us that this was not very helpful when it comes to recognising whether the emails are legitimate or not – after all, @netmedia.co.uk is not that familiar a domain name. So, going forwards, all emails will come from noreply@parents-booking.co.uk, whether they’re booking invites, reminders, confirmations, cancellations, password resets or even your annual invoice.

We hope this helps.

There is just one thing to be aware of: If your school was previously having to “whitelist” @netmedia.co.uk so that your school’s teachers could receive their password resets (or if emails suddenly stop being sent to teachers), you will likely need to ask the IT team to do the same with @parents-booking.co.uk (and @eu-west-1.amazonses.com, because we use Amazon AWS’ EU servers to send out our emails), which is why we will write to all customers to make this point. We have already noticed that schools using LGFL mail are experiencing this, and we’d like to ensure this won’t be an issue next term.

More Functionality when Inviting Parents

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We’ve re-designed how parents are sent their invite to parents’ evenings, 1-to-1 meetings set up by teachers, or events/clubs by school Admins. Parents can be sent an invite individually (for example when you are looking to prioritise invites/bookings to certain parents) and later you can send invites to everyone else. You can easily see who you have and have not invited.

This video very quickly describes the changes and how the new features work.

Payment Integration with Stripe

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You can now take payments for events, clubs and trips through Parents Booking’s new integration with Stripe.

The video below demonstrates how this all looks and works, and by going to your school’s Admin Area > Set Up School page, and expanding the Payment Gateway Settings section you can download the latest version of the Stripe integration instructions.