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Software Updates

Information on the latest software upgrade from our technical team.

New Features for 2020/21

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Welcome back!

We have spent the last six months building lots of exciting new features for Parents Booking (which, as you may know, is our new name).

To help explain these changes, this blog article covers them all. You can click on a topic and more information will be opened in a new tab.

List of changes in the latest Parents Booking release:

As if the above items were not enough, a brand new parent area UI (‘user interface’, by which we mean ‘website design’) will be in place in a few weeks.

If you have any questions please do contact hello@parents-booking.com or support@parents-booking.com.

Disconnect Students from Old Teachers/Classes

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Disconnect Teachers

Our newest software release showcases a great new feature which automatically “disconnects” students from their old teachers/classes.

Let’s begin with an example: You uploaded the whole school’s data four months ago, and now it’s time for a new parents’ evening (whether that’s just for a year group or the whole school). No doubt class lists will have changed, for example students joining/leaving classes, ‘rotations’ meaning classes are now taught by different teachers, or even staff joining/leaving the school. In the past this might have meant your students and classes were still “linked” to the wrong teacher.

By default, from now on, any data upload you run will automatically “disconnect” students from their “old” teachers and classes. This means that Parents Booking will take for granted that the data you are uploading is the whole and honest truth. This should make parents’ evenings extremely accurate, and mean schools have an even easier time setting up parents’ evenings.

However, be careful. Under certain circumstances, for example if you choose to upload some data for just one subject, the students you upload will be disconnected from all their other teachers/classes UNLESS you un-tick the “Remove students from their old teachers/classes” setting at the top of the Upload Data page, before you run the upload.

Creating Teacher Logins/Accounts

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Teacher e-mail setup

Schools have asked us in the past if teachers can be given their own logins. This is now possible, and is vital if a school is going to be using the video calls module for their parents’ evening.

However, the “School Staff” login/account that schools have used until now still remains available as an option for schools who do not want to have to create logins for each teacher, and for schools who are not using the video call module there is no requirement to create accounts for teachers.

To create teacher accounts/logins:

You can now create personalised logins/accounts for teachers, any time, by inputting their work e-mail address into the ‘E-Mail’ field (see figure 1) on the Teaches page, and then pressing ‘Save Room/E-mails’.

Once you press ‘Save Room/E-mails’ (see figure 2), the e-mail addresses are saved and the teachers are sent an e-mail with their username and asking them to choose a password.

There is also an option to use the tick boxes beside the teachers, or ‘Select All’, on the Teachers page, and and press ‘E-mail Password Reset’ (see figure 3). All ‘selected’ teachers will be sent an e-mail explaining that they need to login to Parents Booking and reset their password.

Once teachers have chosen their own password, they can login to Parents Booking and check their appointment schedules, join their video meetings and create ‘1-to-1 video meetings’ (this can be disabled in Set Up School > Preferences). Teachers will not be able to join video meetings unless accounts have been set up for them.

The progress of teacher account setup is shown in red, blue and green.

  • Red / “Not Configured” means the teacher has not been sent a password reset e-mail.
  • Blue / “Password Sent” means the teacher has been sent an e-mail asking them to reset their password, but they have not done so yet.
  • Green / “Setup Complete” means the teacher has chosen a password, set up their account and is able to login.

Upload “data” from SIMS ID

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Schools who use SIMS can now use it to upload their pupil, parent and teacher “data” to Parents Booking in one click, using SIMS ID.

 

If you would like to use SIMS ID for your data upload, or want to know more about this option, fill in the form below and we will contact you ASAP:

 

Single sign-on with Firefly

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Parents Booking has recently integrated with Firefly, a fantastic virtual learning environment (VLE) used by hundreds of schools across the UK and around the world, ensuring that schools who use both of our products can benefit from an even simpler login.

Using single sign-on (SSO) technology, parents will be able to click a ‘Login by Firefly’ button on their school’s parents’ evening login page. Parents will then be logged in instantly, improving convenience, ease of use and saving parents’ time.

If your school uses Firefly we will endeavour to add this login button to your parents’ login page ASAP. Let us know if you use Firefly and the ‘Login by Firefly’ button has not appeared on your parents’ login page yet.

Take payments using ParentPay

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We’ve integrated with ParentPay, a leading cashless payment system for schools.

This integration means that ParentPay and Parents’ Evening Booking System customers can take payments from parents for Events, Clubs or other parent booking matters that are dealt with through Parents’ Evening Booking System, using the school’s existing ParentPay account.

The benefits for parents include having a familiar checkout and payment experience, while schools will see all payments made through our service appear in their ParentPay.

If your school uses ParentPay and you want to link it with your Parents’ Evening Booking System, contact support@parents-booking.com, or find instructions on the admin area’s ‘Set Up School’ page, and we’ll help you do just that.

We’re ‘Cyber Essentials Plus’ Certified

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For several months now we’ve been working to achieve our ‘Cyber Essentials Plus‘ certification. We received news on Friday that we’ve passed our inspection, and taken receipt of our certificate.

If you’ve not heard of “CE Plus”, it’s a UK government information assurance scheme operated by the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC). Its certification guarantees our protection levels against the most common cyber threats, and demonstrates our commitment to cyber security. Although not a requirement for our business, we undertook the “CE Plus” certification, which includes having independent security experts examine our servers, software and IT infrastructure.

To view our certification certificate, click here.

The hard work is never done, and we’re already underway with our application to achieve ISO27001 certification, which is an international standard which demonstrates that an organisation has defined and put in place best-practice information security processes. We hope that we’ll have good news related to achieving this further certification later in the year.

Some of what we have been up to..

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Good morning,

We’ve had a very busy term. We’ve helped several hundred new customers set up and run their parents’ evenings with us, since the start of the academic year. We’ve visited Aberdeen City, Aberdeenshire, Edinburgh, North Lanarkshire and West Lothian Councils to run group training sessions for their schools. We’ve started work on some new bolt-on applications which will help schools with other tasks that needed an electronic/web solution (more on that in due course) and of course we’ve been developing our little hearts out, as ever, to ensure that customers receive the most functional, best developed and most innovative parents’ evening solution available. Why? Because we invented online booking for parents’ evenings, and we’re dedicated to changing how they’re run, for the betterment of all involved.

The software ‘build’ we’ll be launching next features some nice changes, including being able to add parents to existing students more easily (helpful for schools whose database doesn’t provide both parents automatically), some mobile user-interface updates, to help parents make their bookings more easily, and perhaps most impressively, an artificial intelligence system, built in collaboration with Edinburgh Napier University, that helps schools set up parents’ evenings with confidence that they’ve not made a mistake in their new event’s chosen settings.

Soon we’ll be adding a single sign-on (SSO) integration for Firefly Learning‘s virtual learning environment (VLE), so that schools who utilise this extremely impressive school learning tool will be able to have their parents login and make parents’ evening appointments seamlessly, without need for a username or password.

We’ve also finished work on integration with three of Groupcall’s products, such as Messenger (schools who use this can track the messages their parents send to parents, and have those messages come from Groupcall directly), Xpressions (messages will go to parents via push notification, and parents can login and make their appointments by single sing-on/without username and password) and Xporter on Demand (giving schools even more control over their datasharing, helping set up events even more quickly).

Next up: We’ll be visiting one of Scotland’s most prestigious secondary schools to film a new advert. We’ll also be talking to the head teacher about how we’re helping their school launch a new way of running parents’ evenings, that makes them more efficient, that can only be run using our software. It’s our sincere hope that this school’s new plans are a huge hit and that we can help roll the idea out to other schools in due course.

Behind the scenes we’ll continue working hard to bring schools new features (such as a booking wizard for the admin area, some improved changes to the event statistics we capture, and a completely new website design that will give us a new look for next academic year).

Wishing all of our customers lots of success as this academic year rumbles on.

Netmedia.

Integration with RM’s new ‘Datashare’

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We’re happy to boast lots of RM Integris customers, and this an update is for them.

RM Education recently released their new ‘Datashare’ for Integris. We’re part of this Datashare.

What does this mean? It means that it’s easier than ever for customers to authorise us as a data sharing partner and, fundamentally, upload the pupil, parent and teacher data that we require to help schools run parents’ evening and event booking online.

We’ve moved all RM customers over from the older data upload mechanism, although this may not be obvious at first. Not much has changed in our software. Your data upload will now go through the new Integris Datashare, but will only work if you have authorised us as a trusted application.

If you’re an Integris user, and a customer of ours, all you need to do is authorise us in the ‘Datashare’ section of Integris. Instructions can be found here.

The new upload should run even faster, and is GDPR compliant, both of which we’re schools will be happy to hear.