We have been working on a website I thought you might like to know about that could prove useful to you and your schools. Basically how it works is a parent/teacher searches for the school where their child or they themselves attend, instantly they will be able to see on the site whether the school has been announced as open or closed.
Doesn't sound like much I know but the good part is that they can register their email address (verification required to stop other people signing you up) and you wll then get an instant email notification everytime the status of your assigned school changes! You can also register your mobile phone number to recieve the same notification through SMS!
Anyone can change the status of a school through the website, once a status change has been initialized notifications are sent out to those who requested them statig that the schools status has changed but is UNVERIFIED. We will then contact the school to verify this information (we are currently wrking on a way of automating this), once the school has verified its status a further notification will be sent out stating this.
Please give it a shot and let me know what you think, any and all suggestion welcome.
Anyone can change the status of a school through the website. . .
Is the fundamental flaw in the system I'm afraid, e.g If the kids got hold of it in certain schools they would like nothing better than to keep changing the status to closed, then open, then closed, then open etc. because they know the problems that could create, that would prompt someone getting in touch with the school and phonecalls from parents wanting to know if it really is closed, which would irritate the admin staff and eventually the school would make a request to be removed from the service becuase it causes more problems than it solved.
It needs to be a secure signup and verification process for the school so that there's an authorised account for each school that can make the change, or other validated sources that can be fed into the system e.g BBC local news webpages often carry school closure lists, and these sources are verified because the schools have to validate their identity with the BBC before they'll broadcast that their school is closed.
a parent/teacher searches for the school where their child or they themselves attend, instantly they will be able to see on the site whether the school has been announced as open or closed.
If a school was closed then most, if not all, schools have their own website now and would simply put a big red "CLOSED" notice on their front page. What makes your website more convinient for staff or parents?
Only problem I can see is it duplicates what is already done. We already have to inform 2 local radio stations, the LEA who have a list on thier website, and update our own website if there is a closure, and parents all know to look in these places.
Thanks for all the feed back people, much appreciated.
From the sounds of it the main concern is duplicating what is already done, but this site does it differently, it gets the information directly to those who want it instead of them actually having to search for it. The idea is that not everyone would bother to listen to the radio or check the school websites that often unless there is a concern that the school MAY be closed, for example 2cm of snow on the ground. In the cases of say gas leaks, power failures and many other unforseen events many parents would still turn up to the school and be sent away because it isn't safe for the children to be there, in these cases how are the parents supposed to know? Would it not be handy to have an email sent straight to your in box or a text message to your phone before you go through the trouble of fighting through rush hour traffic just to be turned away?
No-one checks for school closures on a daily basis, this site is just a quick and easy way for the school to notify all parents and staff members who subscribe to that school to let them know that the school is closed in an instant.
As for the issue of pupils shutting the school down that is why the notifications are labelled as UNVERIFIED until the school themselves confirm the closure, this site is still a work in progress and is continuely been updated and this method may well be restructured in the near future.
Trying not to be too negative here, but i think this may have been superseeded now by systems such as homecontact, where schools can email and txt parents. These are becoming more and more popular for use for newsletters and general reminders, so I think most schools would just send a txt out via this system.
If you wanted your site to be able to send txt's to parents, then you are going to have to charge for it somewhere, as you will need to pay to send txt's, and I can't see many schools wanting to subscribe to another service.
Wat might be better is if there's a way of harnessing the information from pages like the KMFM and BBC page into your service, then you have a reliable source for information to use, and the added benefit of your service to sell.
I could see some schools being irritated at a service publishing important information like that about their school that they have no control over. I'm pretty sure if I went to our academy leader and told him about it now and the way it worked, he would ask to be withdrawn from it as we have enough trouble getting the students here as it is sometimes, without false information going to parents - even if it is 'unverified' it would still cause problems.
Yes the main compettion really would be programs such as homecontact as you stated steve, the main thing that stops schools using programs like that though are the costs themselves which are quite hefty I believe, or at least they were the last time I looked into them.
This site is currently free for all to use whilst it is getting its footing however the most likely thing will be that the people recieving txt notifications will be charged a very small amount to cover the costs of this service. Schools may well find this preferable to software such as homecontact as the school themselves do not incur any cost.