It has been quite inspiring to see how schools and colleges have adapted throughout the pandemic. It has prompted new ways of delivering the curriculum and catering for home working, yet still delivering lessons to a high standard and supporting those most vulnerable in the wider school community.
The pandemic accelerated the need to deploy more flexible communication services in order to meet the daily needs of schools, with particular focus around their phone system. There has been recognition that a modern telephony platform can deliver so much more than just a ringing handset, and there is a clear trend the education sector is using these solutions to also improve their safeguarding and wellbeing obligations both on and off campus; something OFSTED is also focussed on.
It is a complex requirement, but it’s never been easier to deliver while also meeting all other school communication needs. Here’s how:
Handsets in classrooms
This is almost becoming the norm. It means teachers are contactable in the classroom with their own voicemail (if they need it) and they can make calls, such as parent phone meetings, in their own environment.
Admin teams or the senior leadership team (SLT) can deliver real-time voice announcements to all handsets to distribute information quickly and efficiently to both staff and students to the school as a whole or to a specific area of the school, year group or class. With this type of paging system, schools can quickly response to any incident.
Due to the delicate nature of some calls, the addition of a call recording package means all or selected calls can be recorded so details can be checked later, particularly helpful in the event of a dispute. This has proven to be a key safeguarding asset for schools, especially when teachers were regularly calling students to check on their wellbeing during multiple lockdowns or self-isolation periods.
Inbound integration with SIMS (or similar)
This can be an automated or manual integration and means staff can see who is calling to give anyone answering the call a few moments to prepare, particularly if there is an ongoing situation that needs to be handled with care and/or passed immediately to a colleague.
Outbound integration with SIMS (or similar)
Click-to-dial is a huge timesaver which means staff can call someone by clicking their name from the desktop. It also means SLT members and teachers can use any handset to look up a number without having to go to the school office.
We are seeing many business managers and SLT members working from home on a regular basis. They can either take their handsets home or use mobile twinning apps to work in the same way as they do in school. They can also make use of the different features that integrated unified communications apps have to offer, such as instant messaging, video calls, presence and screen sharing, all from one simple-to-use solution.
Unified pupil absence line
Updating the register has been simplified by delivering all absence messaging to email to eliminate the need for long voicemail menus. Sounds files can be listened by admin staff or they can even view the transcript of the voicemails on email.
While not an exhaustive list, the above hopefully illustrates some of the key features we deliver on a daily basis. We believe modern telephony is making a positive impact on schools, catering for safeguarding, wellbeing, lockdown and remote learning demands.
Schools are continually surprised by the affordability of what we offer, which is often budget neutral, and becomes a “no brainer” when presenting options to the SLT, governors and trustees. Please get in touch with me, so we can help advise you on your school’s roadmap for telephony change.