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Safety & Security The secure, modern method to rid results day of panic Caroline Barry, Director of IT at St Leonards-Mayfield School explains how it’s possible to send exam results to pupils securely by SMS or email


from school so that the girls can find out how they have done wherever and whenever they like, as soon as the exam results come in.


Digesting the news T


he traditional image of exam results day features happy groups of students smiling and hugging, waving their letters with shiny eyed optimism, while those who may have wanted to do better have to put on a brave face. But this may be about to change. At St Leonards-Mayfield, a Catholic independent day and boarding school for girls aged 11 to 18 years, we will be delivering examination results to students by text message alone for the first time this summer. So, no more queues of students waiting at school in an agony of anticipation for their results. Instead we will arrange for an SMS message to be sent to each individual student containing their GCSE results. Using SIMS InTouch from Capita, we will set up and manage the process


The very public nature of exam results day is not for everybody. Collecting the envelope from school is fine for many students but others prefer to receive their results alone. Of course, there are those students who still prefer to be with their classmates when the results come in, and they can arrange to do this too. The text approach gives students the flexibility to decide how they receive and digest the results.


Tight security


However, issuing results by text message is very different to the old paper method and we need to ensure security is tight.


A number of measures are taken to ensure data security. The most important is that SIMS InTouch takes a student’s contact information direct from our management information system. This means there is no delay in updating systems. As soon as students update us on a change in their contact information, this is reflected in the SIMS system.


The data does not need to be imported or exported either, which reduces the risk of error or the wrong texts going to the wrong phones.


If a student changes his or her mobile number, the new one is entered once and re- used to make sure it is correct. We know if the message has been received because if not, it bounces back.


In addition, if students prefer not to receive the results by SMS, they can be sent to their school email address, which they can access via their PC or phone.


Tried and tested


The texting process can be tested in advance of results day. We ran a pilot scheme when module results were published in January to test the technology. Students, parents and teachers reacted positively to the trial.


Getting the data so quickly also meant that decisions about results could be made without delay, requests for re-marking were processed by return text, and plans to enter girls for re- takes were quickly arranged.


Using texting to distribute results was a quick and easy solution for the school, but most importantly it had a significant impact on the welfare of students. Anxiety levels were reduced and the students felt much more in control. We anticipate that the text message approach will help our students to manage the most important exam results of their school lives.


22 www.education-today.co.uk


May 2013


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