The ABC reports that Andrew Barr is flinging $20 million on IT for schools.
Aside from bringing broadband to schools, and some video conferencing gear which might allow principals to spend some time actually in their schools rather than attending endless meetings about all the meetings they’re having, there’s an attention getter:
Education Minister Andrew Barr says the system which monitors student attendance will also be upgraded.
“A new initiative will also include the attendance monitoring project, which introduces electronic roll marking,” he said.
“What this means is that if a student is absent, an SMS text message will be generated to the parents to notify them of the absence and this will communicate real-time information to parents.”
This is, it seems the dividend of slashing and burning the school system last year.
So it’s interesting to see that just a month ago the NT News reported on Palmerston High School axing their SMS truancy system because it was too hard to maintain. I shall quote at length from that article:
“The assessment found there had not been an overall improvement in attendance and it added to the workload of staff. There was a significant amount of additional work required in maintaining the mobile phone data and student data to ensure it could perform its job, like ringing the right phone numbers.
“It was also found in many instances staff needed to follow up on the SMS messages and this was, in effect, double handling. The efficiency of the system was affected by factors such as the high proportion of Defence Force families, who move at regular intervals, and the tendency for mobile phones to change ownership within families at short notice.
“Many parents also did not have mobile phones and this meant a back-up system for contacting parents was needed, imposing an additional workload on staff.
“It was too expensive to operate and maintain with running costs including upgrades, technical assistance and maintainence and call charges.”