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College Fights Truancy with Text

David Murphy

Avanquest has revealed that Crestwood College in Eastleigh, Hampshire is using its Text Message Server solution to support its anti-truancy initiatives.
Crestwood has over 500 students, and did have a truancy problem, with unauthorised absence growing. The college recognised that the best way to tackle truancy was to work with parents to reduce truancy numbers.
Contacting the parent or guardian by phone each time their child failed to turn up for morning registration was becoming harder. Crestwood Attendance Officer, Theresa Holman, was spending more and more time making calls, and leaving messages when she could not get through. The college realised that the number of calls needing to be made would probably only increase as the initiative gathered momentum, so it has turned to text as a quicker and more reliable way of communicating with parents.
Avanquest notes that using text to relay messages is an unobtrusive method of communication. Information and support from the school can be given discretely to parents, who might be in an office or situation where a phone call cannot be taken or will be overheard.
Electronic registration carried out through SIMS (the Schools Information Management System which holds a database of pupil and parent information, including the mobile numbers of parents) is able to verify pupil names against non-attendance. A list of target mobile numbers is collated and a text message immediately sent to the parent's mobile phone to notify them that their child has failed to turn up at school, all automatically.
“Because text messaging is instant, it has cut down the time I used to spend making phone calls and delivers better results,” says Holman. “It has helped me get students into school and makes it easier for us to keep in regular touch with students and parents in ongoing situations concerning absence.”