Recently we have been having problems where students with identical or similar names, for example Fred Smith and Fredrick Smithe are being confused by admin and teaching staff alike. In one case we have a really good student and a really bad student being mixed up, much to the upset of the good students parents. The Principle has now asked what we are going to do about preventing this from happening again. Our office manager is would like if there is a way of getting PARS (and SIMS) to produce a popup every time they deal with one of these students. Whilst I guess this is technically possible should TASC & Capita wish to modify there software I am not aware of anyway to handle this as it stands.
I personally think that needs a procedural fix to the problem, that is to read the name and form before continuing rather than a technical fix. However I would like to know how your staff make sure that they always pick the right student when there are those with similar names.
We have many and they just know either by class or form group etc. or even something as simple as the photo. Yes procedural changes will help.
Another trick you could use if they don't already have it is to enter a preferred forename so say 'fredster' for one and 'freddo' for the other but there's no guarantee that it won't appear in a report / list somewhere.
It still requires knowing which is which to a degree.
Maybe make them flash cards with photos for ease, or get them to show photos when taking register so they start to associate the name of person and position in list with a certain person.
I'd say this is a perfect example of inventing a tech problem to shift blame... at the end of the day, staff need to make sure they are talking to who they think they are themselves. Whether this is as simple as remembering "Fred in class 1 is naughty, Fred in class two is nice," it really is down to staff to take responsibility.
What would happen if they sent an attendance cert to the wrong address - would you be blamed for not putting in some tech solution to read their minds and detect they're looking at the wrong address, or would it be the staff members fault for not verifying the address?
Sorry if that sounds harsh, but sometimes tech isn't the solution.
As for a possible tech "prod in the right direction" (notice I didn't say solution ) - you could add a note in the Quick Note section of each student's detail page so that right below their photo would be a warning message. Still needs staff to check the system though, at which point surely they could just remember the photo/reg group...
Last edited by LosOjos; 10th July 2013 at 01:26 PM.
We have two boys here (actaully just left now, hooray) who have exactly the same name. One of the mums contacted us quite soon after they started (they had also been together in Primary) and asked that we put Cameron James as his preferred forename (James being his middle name), so now no confusion at all. What a reasonable parent!
Only issue comes with playing with students names is in relation to Examination Entry's the legal names need to be used on Exam Entries and thus will appear on the certificates etc... It is an area we have always had conflict with Parents who don't see why we put Jen in as a preferred name and thus when mail-merging the legal first name it came out Frances as that is her legal first name as Jen is what she prefers to be called. When we explained why they start to understand a bit or in some cases the parents go and change the kids name to what they actually wanted them to be!
Sorry if that sounds harsh, but sometimes tech isn't the solution.
I agree with this however that is what I am being asked to provide, though my report back is likely to include a number of points on which the staff themselves should take action rather than rely on the technology.
Only issue comes with playing with students names is in relation to Examination Entry's the legal names need to be used on Exam Entries and thus will appear on the certificates etc
That is an important point. It has been suggest to us that we add an additional character to the students name (say #) to help identify them. I will look at whether PARS uses their preferred name or legal name. If it uses the preferred name then there will be less issues with 'changing' their name.
I had this exact problem when I was at school, three times I had the wrong students reports and ended up in the dog house for it until my parents got in touch with the school. Even worse I was put in the wrong groups as classes were split into top middle and bottom, well I was in bottom for everything for a few months before being moved to top and middle in most subjects!
Even worse I was put in the wrong groups as classes were split into top middle and bottom, well I was in bottom for everything for a few months before being moved to top and middle in most subjects!
Same here. Went from middle to upper school and the Maths set was exactly the same as before with one exception - the other 36Degrees was in it!
We also have two pupils here in the same year, with the same name, from the same village but different feeder primaries. One is often in trouble but I believe the other is a good student. As far as I am aware our staff ensure they get the right child's details before making any form of contact.
We have a hard time with staff who insist on being known by a totally different name to that on their passport and this gets put on all docs and their userIDs then they want to change it every year too!
Luckily most of our same namers are years apart and names are so hard they have to pay attention to them anyway which is as it should be. Worst case use the admission number to check its the right kid. For us that's their username too so you can always just ask the kid.
We have issues with this as assessment uses preferred names, exams uses legal names, registers seem to vary (honestly!) and any report goes by legal name unless you alter it. Makes for fun data management. We too have had the same angry parent conversations so I now have a list fixed to my monitor of who I need to be careful of!
Thanks for your responses. To distil the report I am sending to the principle and perhaps help others in a similar situation.
There is no straightforward technical solution, fundamentally it is problem with the users.
Lists provided to admin staff must include a year / reg / class group so that all students can be uniquely identified.
Staff must read the information presented in dialog boxes before continuing to ensure the select the right student.
Provide a list of the similarly named students to admin staff to help them be aware.
Added a quick note in SIMS to help highlight them.
Shown staff how to resize some of the dialogs so they can make the columns larger.
Shown staff how to change the screen resolution so that the dialogs will have more screen area to work with so making the columns wider.
Considering adding an additional character to the appropriate preferred names so that it helps identify them within SIMS & PARS.
Consider adding these students to a group and adding a highlight code in PARS. Not much use as it does not show up in the student selection dialog.
Considering changing their photo to include a similar warning to the quick note. This is not ideal as photos are not shown in all areas of PARS.
Teaching staff should enter behaviour through their class timetable as it will ensure they select the correct student.
TASC are going to make some minor tweaks to the PARS student selection dialog as there is some wasted space which will allow the reg group column to be larger. On some of our machines that is too small and the entries are truncated, additionally the column is not resizeable.