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MIS Systems Thread, Text Messaging Systems in Technical; We use ParentCall/Truancy Call for this, although we also have PARS which as mentioned above can send txt SMS messages ...
  1. #16
    firefox_2006's Avatar
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    We use ParentCall/Truancy Call for this, although we also have PARS which as mentioned above can send txt SMS messages to parents once configured.

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    TechMonkey's Avatar
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    The 3k is only first year setup and includes the years maintenance. Other systems cost that each year.
    It's one of those things you need to look into very carefully. We had one installed last year that we were bypassed on and I have since found out the cost is high and the texts are expensive. Check out bundles and find out what kind of upfront money the school would be willing to splurge. If theyare only willing to spend £xxx at a time then one provider may come out better on text prices. Also find out what the school wants to do. We are looking at inTouch as all though it doesn't have all the features of some other systems we are very interested in the emailing reports home and things like send message to teachers of... feature.

    When we had Schoolcomms it was all right just a bit clunky and having only 1 person allowed at a time was an annoyance, especially trying to troubleshoot something. If you are just going to have one person sending out a few texts every now and then that might be fine. Also the password changing was a bugbear as someone in the office would reset it and no one else would know it had changed or what to.

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    Quote Originally Posted by TechMonkey View Post
    .... If you are just going to have one person sending out a few texts every now and then that might be fine.....
    We send out hundreds and thousands with no issues. Things like Parent Evenings reminders, Exam 'tomorrow' reminders, Unknown Absence twice per day etc etc
    Schoolcomms enables you to Email, Text or Ecard any group that you have in SIMS!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Sivadam View Post
    We have used Schoolcomms for a good number of years now. It's integration with SIMS is excellent! The links actually exist within your SIMS Database. Now how good is that? I cannot recommend it highly enough!!!!
    Schoolcomms

    Greed (a user on here!) has explained this system in detail on his site:-
    Schoolcomms – User-Friendly Home:School Communications « ReedSoft
    Thanks. Does SchoolComms allow 2-way communication with parents? How much is it and how is it charged - by school population and texts charged separately?

    Quote Originally Posted by teejay View Post
    We are just testing Keep Kids Safe, very easy to use and the staff find it easy and it will do what you want. Training is included free of charge, very easy to set up and integrate with SIMS. You do get a 2 month trial period, just remember to cancel it if you don't go with it as you automatically get put on a contract if you don't from what I have read.
    The only problem we've found so far is with mobiles on Virgin, they strip the + from the beginning of the text number and so they can't reply to the message (the text number is in international format, so start +44 rather than 0, it's a UK number though). It works perfectly fine on any other mobile network, the + stays on the number and they can reply no problem.
    We've spoken to another school nearby who use another system - not Keep Kids Safe - and they've reported the same. It's something to do with what Virgin does with the text before getting to a handset. Would you recommend Keep Kids Safe?

    Quote Originally Posted by Little-Miss View Post
    We've got InTouch...not been used properly yet though...
    Not interested in InTouch - costs an amazingly large amount of money!!

    Quote Originally Posted by jenny_urey View Post
    ...quick note..., if you use PARS then the text facility is already built in, to enable you to text parents, students and staff... approx 6p a text with no additional cost of software. PARS also has full integrated email system which is free as an already built in feature as has been available for around 5 years now. Not all Schools are aware of the feature unless its switched on...
    No, we don't have PARS any-more. Staff never liked it.

    As we've got to compare 3 different systems we've looked at Keep Kids Safe, Truancy Call and SchoolComms but we're more interested in Keep Kids Safe at the moment. SLT have listed the pros and cons for each and they (obviously) want value-for-money so can anyone recommend another system that has features similar to Keep Kids Safe? So far, they like:

    Dedicated Attendance section: First-day calling, texting, emails...
    General text messaging, letters and e-mail sections: free emails, mail-merged letters...
    Text 4 Help: allows us to publicise a mobile number for the kids to text us if they're being bullied or have issues at home, etc...
    Can be used to contact anyone at all, including staff, SLT, EWOs, me!, etc...
    Free set-up, training and helpdesk - they want quite a few training sessions and we're told Keep Kids Safe do free training sessions on-site.
    'Events Manager' - don't know much about that yet (had to leave meeting early) but asked afterwards and it's a bit where you can track sports, events and school-trips. Like an on-line calendar.
    Does different language messages for parents who don't speak English
    Also allows you to set-up timed-release messages
    Oh, and it's web-based. I like this bit because it means I don't have to do any installation!

    We were quoted £200 a month plus whatever we text @ 6p - and if we do a deal we might get it cheaper And if we like it, and recommend it to other schools we can get lots of money off.

    So, what do you use that compares with that? The SLT liked the sales-lady who came and they like the look of it... But I don't want to say that i approve until I know that I've looked at all other systems out there...? Help!?

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    Looks like you can actually pay the intouch installation over 3 years, so comparing costs to schoolcomms (as that's the only other quote I have at the moment) it's actually pretty much the same as paying for the multiuser license.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Iain.Faulkner View Post
    Looks like you can actually pay the intouch installation over 3 years, so comparing costs to schoolcomms (as that's the only other quote I have at the moment) it's actually pretty much the same as paying for the multiuser license.
    SchoolComms haven't mentioned a multi-user license? Do we have to pay to set-up new accounts? Hmmm...

  7. #22

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    Sorry I was being a bit simplistic, I know it can send out more than just texts and that it can use groups you define. I don't really want to have to create a group of teachers for every student, or house staff for each student. But if we have an assistant head that wants to send out the parent evening reminder while the attendance ladies are doing their daily trawl then one of them is going to be annoyed. Even more so when the AH inevitably forgets to fully close it so the attendance can't be done. & it is a bit backwards to just say "oh you have to go and check with this list of people to make sure they aren't using it before you can do anything."

    @AGeffen: You do realise that £200pm is £2400pa, where as inTouch at amazingly large amounts of money is only £2995 for the first year and £995pa there after? So £600 more expensive the first year which you make right back the second year and save even more each year after that.

    Esssh, standing explaining the benefits of a SIMS system! End times I tell you!

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    @AGeffen
    We've only just started trialling KKS, but so far very impressed. The training was excellent, free and will come back to do any further training we want free of charge as well. It's really simple to use and has some nice time saving stuff in it. The audit trail and reporting are superb. The Events Manager is good, it's a bit basic at the moment but is something they are looking at improving and they do take notice of feature requests by schools.
    There is 'some' installation if you're integrating it with SIMS/CMIS, but it's a 5 minute job.
    They will give you a 2 month trial of the system so you can really see how it works, also I would get negotiating hard on the £200 per month ;-)

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    Quote Originally Posted by AGeffen View Post
    SchoolComms haven't mentioned a multi-user license? Do we have to pay to set-up new accounts? Hmmm...
    Multi-user basically means that you can give individual people their own account to access and use Schoolcomms. If you go for the single user, it means although you can allow as many as you like to use it, they all sign on as the same user and only one can access the software at once.

  10. #25

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    Another happy Schoolcomms customer here.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Sivadam View Post

    Greed (a user on here!) has explained this system in detail on his site:-
    Schoolcomms – User-Friendly Home:School Communications « ReedSoft
    Wow, ta for the plug Sivadam!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Sivadam View Post
    We have used Schoolcomms for a good number of years now. It's integration with SIMS is excellent! The links actually exist within your SIMS Database. Now how good is that? I cannot recommend it highly enough!!!!
    Schoolcomms

    <YAWN> see numerous similar independent/objective posts!

    Personally I recommend you read the endless similar threads. Trouble is it's the same few people stating the same opinions over and over again! Why don't you invite a few of these potential suppliers into your school. It will be interesting to see which ones can be bothered and THAT should tell you something.

    As I keep repeating to my colleagues ... we're buying a service not a commodity! And BTW - watch out for cheap text messages ... it often means they are using 'grey' routes (international mobile carriers) rather than UK only. The 'texting only' specialists tend to use these to get their prices as cheap as possible. There are security as well as reliability issues to be concerned about here. Ask for a written guarantee they are using UK services only.

    Amanda.
    Last edited by Nuttyprof; 26th March 2011 at 08:26 AM.

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    Saw ParentMail earlier this week to discuss 'ParentMail 2' which is out soon. Includes two-way texting, two-way email, and payments from parents. They're also adding an APP which lets parents do all the above from their mobile phones. (Yup you read it correctly ... parents will be able to build their own private groups and send their own messages too - independently from the school).

    Mobile Phone App To Help Parents Supervise With Their Children Announced « Gadgets and Technology News

    Looks very cool indeed, and as for pricing ... they're about the same as everyone else!

  14. #29
    Sivadam's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nuttyprof View Post
    .....Why don't you invite a few of these potential suppliers into your school.....
    Also do what we did - visit schools that are using the various systems and see them in action. Obviously InTouch was not available when we went thro' this process.

  15. #30

    GREED's Avatar
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    Schoolcomms are building a mobile app to use their system as well, just thought i'd throw that into the mix!

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