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Does your school insist that parents' evening appts are booked online?

(47 Posts)
FrChewieLouie Thu 15-Oct-15 09:23:05

Just curious about this, because dd2's primary school recently introduced ParentPay accounts - no problem with that. But they now say that you can't book a parents' evening appointment unless you do it through your ParentPay account, which strikes me as possibly discriminatory, since surely not every parent in a school of 600+ pupils with a very mixed catchment is going to have access to the internet.

Obviously it doesn't really affect me - I just don't want to open yet another bloody account, as dd2 is in y6 and I won't need to pay for anything much beyond a couple of cheapie school trips now. Also it rankles that I'm going to have to give the school my bank details purely because I want to talk to dd's teacher!

But I think this could really discriminate against people like e.g. my brother, who works a ft min wage job and can't afford an internet package.

Does anybody else's school do this? Would it bother you if they did?

Asteria36 Thu 15-Oct-15 09:28:20

Ours insists we book everything online now. We also have to print off homework sheets which pisses me off even more. Now we all need access to the Internet and to ensure that we always a printer fully stocked with paper and ink. DH works from home so none of this is a problem for us, that doesn't mean that every other child at school has the same access. It just appears to be lazy on the schools behalf.

FrChewieLouie Thu 15-Oct-15 09:30:37

That would really boil my piss, Asteria. Once again, it's something my brother simply couldn't do and he'd feel crap about it. I understand school budgets are tight and the office staff are stressed, but why make the disadvantaged children pay for it?

deepdarkwood Thu 15-Oct-15 09:34:36

The system is online but there is always the option to ring the school office and book that way which seems like a sensible compromise to me. That said I think the penetration of smart phones (assuming the system is mobile compatible) has hugely opened up the accessibility of online appts (although not printing out homework of course!) so may be better than it was a few years ago.

ReallyTired Thu 15-Oct-15 09:35:17

My daughter's school has parents book appointments online, however the office staff are prepared to help parents who aren't technically savy. Parents without computers are allowed to use the school PCs.

I worry about parents who are functionally illerate who might not get to know that there is a parents' evening. A half decent school will help, but they can only help if they realise there is a problem.

AliMonkey Thu 15-Oct-15 09:39:01

Yes only online at our school and I have same concerns as you. Also annoys me that they open it up at 7pm one day and if you don't get in in the first half hour there are few appointments left (and usually none that DH and I can both make - or only available eg DD two hours before DS). Paper system was that you asked for one of three slots and they then juggled them so everyone got as close to their preference as possible. Surely someone can write the programme that does the same rather than whoever gets there first gets the slot.

Princerocks Thu 15-Oct-15 09:39:01

My DD comes home with a note in her bag with an appointment time on it. I have the option of going at that time or not going. I'd quite like to able to pick a time convenient to me but it sounds discriminatory if you have no choice other than to book it online.

FrChewieLouie Thu 15-Oct-15 09:40:52

Yes, I wouldn't have a problem with this at all if the compromise you mention was available, DeepDarkWood. Or if the staff were prepared to help out those who couldn't access it for whatever reason - but they were really bolshy with me when I queried it and just said, "Well, this is the way things are going now" as if I was some kind of wilful technophobe.

It isn't the way things are going for the woman down the road from me, who under-claimed benefits for six years because she didn't understand the forms. She has 2 dc at the school. I'd put long odds on her going to parents' evening this year.

HeadDreamer Thu 15-Oct-15 09:42:27

We have to book ours online. Parent mail comes online too. I don't see a problem with it. I'm glad I don't have to go and pop into the school office, or look through DD's book bag for letters.

HeadDreamer Thu 15-Oct-15 09:44:32

The library also has free internet. I'm sure the school office will help if I go in and ask if they'll book it for me.

FrChewieLouie Thu 15-Oct-15 09:44:59

That sounds really annoying, AliMonkey - for my sins in late registration, I've ended up with the graveyard slot on Thursday night grin. The teacher will just about be reaching for the gin by then, I imagine.

Dd1's (massive, very techno-forward) secondary school still allows appts to be made by letter or over the phone. When I told the office people this, they more or less called them losers!

Celticlassie Thu 15-Oct-15 10:24:33

Funnily enough, wrt the homework sheets thing, in our school almost all (typed) homework is not brought in on memory stick and teachers have to print it themselves, at the expense of the school. It appears that a lot of households don't have printers, or if they do they often don't have ink.

I personally think that online appointment systems discriminate, and also that they take away flexibility for teachers, meaning that it's much more difficult to slot in an extra appointment or two on busy nights, which also disadvantages parents.

HeadDreamer Thu 15-Oct-15 11:08:06

I personally think a non online system discriminate against working parents.

HeadDreamer Thu 15-Oct-15 11:08:54

We have some forms, like the ones to book for photos and school plays that only can go through the school office. Either DH and I have to work from home for the day to actually take the form in. It's incredibly lucky we both have flexible jobs.

NewLife4Me Thu 15-Oct-15 11:13:30

I think it's a great idea tbh.
Far better than hoping your child brings the appointment note as soon as they get it.
We had so many where we were too late to get the teachers or times we wanted.
I think most people have internet access now, and if not there are so many public and private buildings that offer access.

FrChewieLouie Thu 15-Oct-15 11:14:39

HeadDreamer, I don't disagree with you about that - the previous booking system was awful (sign-up sheets on the classroom doors, so v difficult if you couldn't do pick up) - but I think making the online element compulsory is against the spirit of inclusivity.

HeadDreamer Thu 15-Oct-15 11:26:03

I disagree that being online discriminate. Isn't it a requirement now to look for jobs online with the job centre? Most people have internet access, and the library provides free access too.

MagicalMrsMistoffelees Thu 15-Oct-15 14:05:35

This is the future folks! Yes it's first come-first served but it's the same if you sign up on a sheet of paper outside the classroom (which is how we do it at our school). Whoever gets to the sign up sheet first gets first dibs.

As a teacher myself I'd always do anything I could to help parents who didn't have internet access or couldn't use a computer etc.

FrChewieLouie Thu 15-Oct-15 14:16:16

That's good to know, MagicalMrs - as an ex-teacher, I think I'd be concerned that those 'hard to reach' parents might become 'even harder to reach' parents.

I know it's inevitable that every administrative aspect of life will eventually be online - my idea was that perhaps it could be phased in, so that those who don't currently have access are at least offered an alternative (booking over phone e.g.) until they do.

Alibabsandthe40Musketeers Thu 15-Oct-15 14:17:55

I think it's brilliant.

Previously the system at our infants was that a piece of paper would be stuck up outside the classroom, and whichever parents were there first would get the first pick of the slots.
This hugely penalised anyone who actually has anything to do - work, younger children or other family to take care of. Those parents who hang around the school gate chatting and on their phones for an hour before pick up would already have taken the best slots.

SweetieXPie Thu 15-Oct-15 14:23:49

We get a letter from our school with a choice of two days, from 3.30-6.30 on each day, you are asked your preference of date and within an hour range, which time slots and if you have siblings. You fill it in, send it back and the ladies in the office make sure you are seen within close proximity to your chosen time/ date and if you have more than one child,they try and book them close together.

It sounds long winded for the school but it works.
I say this now, I am currently waiting only appointment time for the parents evening coming up so we shall see if we got our preferred time and date wink

myotherusernameisbetter Thu 15-Oct-15 14:35:13

Ours are high school now and we have to rely on the pupils booking an appointment with a teacher - it causes no end of difficulty as there are a lot less appointments available than teachers so we have at times ended up with no appointments for English and Maths. The English teacher gave all her appointments away to the first class she saw and there were none left for the rest!

Then we get told to only book an appointment if you really need one, I think if you really need an appointment then you should be arranging to see the teacher outside parents night as those appointments are only meant to last 5 minutes and there is no way that "a really need" type of meeting will fit in that so the rest of the appointments run late and if you have one at the end of the evening, you lose out on your appointment completely.

I'd like on-line as I'd have a better chance of coordinating all myself.

sleeponeday Thu 15-Oct-15 18:43:02

The internet aspect isn't such a problem (believe it or not, you can even be sanctioned and deprived of benefits if you don't jobhunt online, so this is minor, comparatively) as most have phones that allow net access now, but requiring a printer for homework is appalling. The outlay isn't nothing, and the ink is very expensive - we grumble about it, and I am not a single mother, or benefit-dependent. Schools have no right to expect that of families, especially as their circumstances may be harder than staff know.

HeadDreamer Thu 15-Oct-15 18:55:02

I agree with the printing aspect. Printer ink is so expensive.

Grazia1984 Thu 15-Oct-15 21:13:32

My children are older so they fix the times with the teachers and let me know but it's complex. If you have twins you are fixing double th eusual number of secondary school appointments. The twins almost had to do s GCSE maths matrix to work out who to see when. I would prefer an on line system. I've never been offered one.

(Just spent nearly £400 on a new printer and ink - the ink was half the cost) for the boys)

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