The next step this week is to walk all of our trial boarders through the electronic leave process. Last time I talked about jumping in the deep end with REACH and committing our process to an electronic format. It is all well and good to believe that the system is going to work, but unless the students are committed to using the new system, it can just as easily be a big waste of money.
Last time I talked about jumping in the deep end with committing our process to an electronic format. It is all well and good to believe that the system is going to work, but unless the students are committed to using the new system, it can just as easily be a big waste of money.
For the trial we are only using Mari Mari House. Twenty teenage boys, who have for the most part been in boarding for four to five years. These students have an ingrained way of doing things (especially leave).
After setting up the system, I took the plunge and removed our paper leave slips. In their place I replaced the leave slips with a note saying where to find Peace’s REACH portal and how to log into it.
The first boarder asked two questions about how to request leave after which I received no more questions, by the end of the night all of my boarders had submitted their overnight weekend leave. The boarders taught each other. It really was that easy. Once all of the leave requests where approved all it took from me was a simple click of the mouse and our Catering Manager knew the number of boarders that we would have for each meal.
One of the useful functions I like in the software is a popup window telling me if a student should have left by a certain time, or is late returning. This allows all staff to keep an eye on what our boarders are doing. Another is the meal count so meals can be allocated according to leave requests which allows for a substantial saving to occur.Over the course of a couple of weeks it has become obvious that some hosts never showed up at the times they have indicated. REACH makes it easy to identify them so we can discuss the responsibilities a host has towards our boarders.
I know every institution does things just a little bit differently and this is where we find REACH comes into its own. REACH has made it easy from my perspective. Customising the locations students can sign out to and adding student groups, for study, sport teams or school clubs allows for easy attendance and location checks to occur. I can see the days of receiving a phone call to check on the location of a student disappearing before my eyes.
For us, having parents email approval for leave requests is not a realistic option at this stage because a large number of our boarders come from remote communities or from PNG (those that know PNG will understand that communications can be difficult, even at the best of times). Therefore, we rely on the use of phone calls and, yes the humble fax machine.
All the staff in Mari Mari House, now use the REACH system. Paper is no longer being used for leave, head checks or medications. Now that head checks and leave appear to be sorted, I am in the process of setting up the Pastoral care components of the software and by the start of Term 2 I hope to have our pastoral care system running on REACH also.
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