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Editor's Blog and Industry Comments

SMS system for managing truancy levels.

04 March, 2008
A school in Essex has managed to reduce truancy to a manageable level using a combination of registration technology, database architecture and a text messaging server from Avanquest.
"Yr little J bunked off dbl French 2day" may not be the exact wording of the text messages sent out to the parents of truants from a school in Essex but the effect is the same, providing parents with visibility of errant behaviour when their children should be attending lessons.

Truancy has for many years been a serious problem for schools who have responsibility for children in their care. If a minority of those children decide to leave the premises, get involved in crime or some accident, it reflects badly on the school.

The problem however, is not so simple to manage. There can be many legitimate reasons for absence such as sickness when a parent has simply forgotten or not bothered to inform the school. There are unauthorised absences that the parents are aware of which don't constitute truancy and then, of course, there are the real incidences of truancy and in this respect, cunningness knows no bounds! Having an SMS system simply linked to the main registers therefore wouldn't work.

However, the Essex school and Avanquest have come up with a neat solution including electronic classs registers linked to a database where patterns can be analysed and sporadic lesson absences can be identified. This kind of analysis prevents pupils from attending first registration before disappearing and also filters out unauthorised parentally-approved absences such as term time family holidays.

For the remainder, those pupils who habitually miss certain classes, the system will recognise trends, link to the school's contact database and send an SMS to the parent, a new kind of big brother who no longer protects you from the kid who wants to steal your apple, but instead tells your dad when you decide to skip chemistry.
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