Support Elves Newsletter

25 June 2015
Issue Five
Head Elf School Report
School Project - Activity Selections
Dear Support Elves... real emails from real parents
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Schoolinterviews
03 8786 9233
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AU

Head Elf School Report

Typo's and Time Travel

We've all done it - hit the wrong button.


You may have noticed when setting up and running your event, or even if you have used our service as a parent, that it's easy to miss something or click the wrong button. You will have also noticed, that our system is very intuitive. It will often pick up the things you have missed or give you warnings to prevent you doing the wrong thing, sometimes these warnings are gentle nudges, sometimes they stop you dead in your tracks.


And it wasn't designed like this overnight. 


Every issue, every "whoops", every phone call for help is noted - acted on - but more importantly, our first thought is how did this happen?" What can WE do to stop it happening again? What can WE do to make life easier for the next parent, teacher or office admin.


Even with careful planning, some schools, either by accident or misinformation, put in the wrong dates for their event. This is usually discovered well before notes go home, and well before parents start booking. Easy, just change the dates.


But what if parents have already started booking? What if for some reason, you need to move your event to another date?


Moving dates in the past, was almost impossible. The task of changing dates, moving bookings, moving times that teachers had blocked out and having all the data saved correctly was a big risk.


Sometimes you have to look risk straight in the eyes, and take it head on.


We now have a way to move your event to another time. Using the email address provided to you by the parents that have already made bookings, you can quickly let them know the dates have changed, and any new bookings, or any parents returning to the system, will now see the correct date.


There are limitations, however. Moving the dates, moves it for ALL dates in your event. We cannot move some timetable blocks and leave others. So if you have 3 dates in the system and you need to move them all to the following week - no problem. If you have 3 dates and you only need to change one of them, then we need to rely on other "workarounds". 


So next time you discover that you have the wrong dates, or if you need to move your event to another time, let us know. The sooner you let us know, the sooner we can have your event running exactly the way you planned.


School Project - Activity Selections

After school activities

Using schoolinterviews.com.au for parents to select an after school activity for their child, is much easier than sending in paper notes with preferences, because parents can choose the exact activity that suits their child and their family.


When parents make a booking, the bookings are listed in booking order, so the first parent that booked, appears at the top of the list and the last parent that booked, appears at the bottom of the list. A school can tell by the list, which parents booked first and which parents booked last.


Setting up these activities can be as simple or as complex as a school requires, and the information a school can gather is also as simple or in as much detail as needed.


Simple activity selection

In this scenario, a school has a small number of different activities on offer. A student may select only one activity to participate in for the whole term. There are limited places for each activity, there are no age restrictions, there is no cost involved and all activities occur on the same day at the same time each week throughout the term. The school would like an emergency contact phone number from parents, so they can call the parent if they forget to collect their child, or if there is an accident or injury.


If a parent discovers that the activity they would like to chose for their child, has become fully booked, they will choose their next preferred activity, but can also go on a waiting list for their first preferred activity. 


Should a place become available, the school has a waiting list and as the lists are presented in the order of first selected to last selected so the school will know which parent to contact first.




Complex Activity Selection

In this scenario, activities are held on different days but at the same time each week. There are limited places for each activity and a waiting list has also been offered to parents. Children can select up to two activities per child. There are no costs involved.




Other activity selections?

Perhaps you have something different in mind?

Perhaps you need some other information from parents?

Contact the Support Elves and tell us about YOUR next event, and see what they can come up with.


Dear Support Elves... real emails from real parents

Why is there only one teacher listed or Why is this teacher missing?

Dear Support Elves,

I have tried about 10 times to use this. Each time I only get the 1 teacher for all my three children which is not correct

Running multiple events

Sometimes there are teachers that are not available at the same time as other teachers. Perhaps these teachers will have their interviews before they go on long service leave, or might have their interviews after they return from their honeymoon.


Schools might chose to run two separate events, with two different event codes. One event code for the majority of teachers and another event code for a single teacher.


As a parent with more than one child, I understand that not all children's bags are inspected for notes at the same time. Sometimes we often receive one note for one child and assume that it must be the same for all children, and are puzzled as to why a teacher might be missing or only one teacher is available, when we go to book appointments.


What can your school do?

Any notes sent home about booking, should include both event codes where possible.


An explanation that one code is for most teachers and another code is for a single teacher.


Each event should have its own name, so you might call one event "Parent Teacher Interviews" and the other event could be named "Parent Teacher Interviews for Mrs Smith 4S, so that a parent might know that this event is just for a single teacher.


The use of "Booking Notes" can be helpful too.


A school can add specific booking instructions for each event, by going to the EVENT page and ticking the box marked "Booking Notes".


Ticking this box will open 3 windows, that represent the 3 pages a parent will visit when making bookings.


For the general Parent Teacher Interview event, you could include instructions at STEP 1 and repeat again at STEP 2 - along the line of:


We apologise, but Mrs Smith 4S is unavailable for interviews at this time. Parents wishing to make appointments with Mrs Smith should use the event code XXXXX


By including and cross referencing the event code specific to this teacher - within in the event you have set up for other teachers - parents will understand that they will not find this teacher listed, because this teacher has their own event, with its own event code.


In the event set up just for Mrs Smith, again you would make use of the booking notes, found on the EVENT page, by including something along the lines of:


This event is for parents with students in Mrs Smith's 4S class only. Interviews for other teachers will be held at a later date. If you wish to make appointments with other teachers, please use the event code YYYYY


Or if you are not ready for parents to start booking for other teachers you could write:


This event is for parents with students in Mrs Smith's 4S class. Interviews for other teachers will be held at a later date. Notes will be sent home shortly with instructions on how to book for other teachers.

Do you have a story for us?

Some of our best ideas have come from parents complaints. There might be something we can include in our next program update, or we might have a solution you could try that other schools might like to hear about in our next "Dear Support Elves" edition.


Click here  to send us your ideas.

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