The Commonweal School
Increasing engagement & supporting students during Covid-19 lockdown
The school looked at several solutions for homework and seating plan software. They all had great functionality but were quite expensive. After having a look at Edulink One, Commonweal realised the software could manage both homework and seating plans and a whole lot more, including parents evening and registers. This meant it could save money by retiring some of its existing systems and whilst getting additional functionality like clubs, marksheets, behaviour and resource booking for no extra cost. What’s more, Edulink One cost half the price of one of the other solutions it was considering.
Thinking it was ‘too good to be true’, Nick Bartlett, Assistant Headteacher for Teaching and Learning at The Commonweal School did some googling and researched schools who were using Edulink One. He found there was nothing but praise for the system. They decided to take up the offer of a free 30 day trial of which helped to confirm they had found the system they were after.
A test bed of ten teachers was set up initially to get feedback during the trial. Everyone found Edulink One simple to use and the Headteacher bought into the project straightaway.
Talking about the rollout in January 2020, Pete Williams, ICT Network Manager says, “Setup was nice and easy from a technical point of view. The support team were brilliant. Suggestions for improvements are taken on board and often implemented.”
Seating plans, homework, registers and marksheets were launched straight away, with messaging, behaviour and resource booking following shortly after. Staff were introduced to it in a 15-minute training session and take up was quick as they loved the single login and ease of use. Student rollout was no problem – the uptake “spread like wildfire” as soon as they heard about it. The school posted a FAQs section on its website and that has handled many of the technical queries parents, students and staff have had about Edulink One.
What matters most is that school systems work well and are easy to use. Edulink One is such a great product, it sells itself. Parental engagement has been impressive… the low price is a bonus.
Firstly the school has made cost savings of just under £5000 to date. It has retired two existing systems to do remote registers and parents evening which saved about £1700 a year. Edulink One offered the homework and seating plan functionality for about £3000 less than another solution it was considering.
Secondly having one login for almost all the school systems has simplified life for the school’s staff, parents and students. The analytics function has also been invaluable to the school, particularly the homework report.
Nick Bartlett comments, “What matters most is that school systems work well and are easy to use. Edulink One is such a great product, it sells itself. Parental engagement has been impressive – almost 900 parents have logged in since the launch and this has probably been the most successful element. The low price is a bonus.”
Since the rollout of Edulink One, staff can now easily message students who haven’t completed homework in the system, or message parents of students that haven’t arrived. It’s made the communication so simple that Edulink One is now their default way of messaging, despite The Commonweal School currently having a separate messaging system which they have been using for a few years.
Pete Williams goes on to say, “the resource booking function is a godsend for us. We used to manage all our booking via a manual system. Now we’d pay for Edulink One just for this functionality – and it wasn’t even the reason we chose it!”.
During Covid-19 lockdown, Edulink One has made communicating and taking school life online relatively simple.
Commonweal has 1380 students, 86 teachers and 78 other staff using Edulink One on a daily basis. Teachers set fortnightly work with the exception of years 11 and 13. Parents and students can both see what’s required, what’s been done and any feedback given; staff monitor, feedback and communicate; and it’s working well.
Pete Williams, Commonweal School’s Network Manager, is now planning to roll out the Exams module this summer. He recognises that giving students access to their grades remotely and quickly will save a lot of administrative hassle. The school is also looking at putting school reports online.
Retiring the school’s other communications and payments system is another aim and will save it another £3000 per year.