4 Tips For Managing Weekend Leave At Boarding Schools
November 26, 2018
In boarding, keeping track of where your students are during the weekend is a top priority. You need to know where they’re going, when they are scheduled to leave and return, how they are getting there and who is taking responsibility for their safety.
While every school has their own way of organising, managing and keeping track of weekend activity, the best schools are always looking for new ways to improve the efficiency, accuracy and security of their processes.
So if you're not convinced your current system is as efficient as it could be, here are some tips to help you streamline your approach.
1) Ditch the paper
Paper-forms, sign-out sheets and clipboards have been the lifeblood of boarding management, but while paper is very versatile, it’s also very manual, static and storage heavy. This makes communication slow, information hard to access and increases potential risk in the event of an emergency.
Read our post on 7 alarming ways paper is hurting your boarding processes for a deeper look at how paper is holding you hostage.
Many schools are choosing to move to the cloud to manage their weekend leave processes. When information is stored on the cloud, it’s hosted on a network of servers which can be accessed from any device with an internet connection, allowing for greater ease of use, instant communication, reduced risk of loss and superior transparency.
Boarding management systems like Boardingware are built in the cloud and have proven to be extremely effective at helping boarding schools optimise their weekend leave processes. But if this isn’t an option for you right now, there are plenty of other free/cheap online tools you can use to streamline your processes.
One option is to use Google Forms to enable students and parents to make leave requests via an online form. MailChimp is another useful tool that is traditionally used for email marketing but can also be used to send bulk emails to parents and students. Very helpful if you want to remind students and parents to submit their leave requests before a certain date.
To discover more ways to use online tools for your weekend leave, download our free eBook: 7 Free Apps To Transform Your Boarding School
2) Make it easy for parents and guardians
One of the hardest parts of organising weekend leave is chasing and following up parents. Trying to obtain approvals and coordinate travel arrangements via long email chains, text messages, and voicemails can be a painful ordeal.
Just like you, parents are busy with their own jobs and need a simple and straightforward way to approve and decline leave requests. That’s why it’s important to make it as easy as possible for them to respond to leave requests.
Some schools have their own in-house parent portal which helps to improve communications, but most of these aren’t suitable for weekend leave processes.
With Boardingware, parents are integrated with the entire weekend leave process. From the parent app, they can easily request leave on behalf of their child, receive notifications, quickly approve/decline requests and send messages all from one place.
3) Let students sign themselves in and out
When it comes to signing students out on weekend leave, it can take a long time when you have to process each student individually.
One way to streamline this process is to give students the ability to sign themselves in and out. This tactic puts a lot of trust and responsibility on your students, and is not suitable for everyone. But when it is done right it can be a very effective way to minimise the pressure on boarding house staff.
With Boardingware you can set up Checkpoints where students can sign themselves in and out from an iPad kiosk. Checkpoints can be restricted to certain students (ie. senior students only) and protected by pin-code authentication. When students sign-out via a Checkpoint, their status and leave information will update in real-time, giving boarding staff accurate information about where they’re going.
4) Enforce submission deadlines
How many times have you had to spend your Thursday or Friday nights processing weekend leave because students were late to submit their request?
If this is a regular occurrence, then you might want to consider using strict deadlines to get students to submit their requests earlier in the week. Deadlines are a great way to create a sense of urgency and get students to take action sooner, but only when they are enforced properly.
If you’re too lenient with your deadlines, students won’t take them seriously and you’ll find yourself with another late night of weekend leave requests.
As we mentioned earlier, you can use Google forms to collect leave requests, but did you know you can also set your forms to stop accepting submissions with a simple toggle. Just turn submissions off at your deadline to block students from submitting requests, then turn it back on when submissions are open for the following week.
Alternatively, you can use Boardingware’s event coordinator to manage your entire weekend leave process. With the event coordinator, you can create a leave request form, add submission deadlines, and then schedule automatic reminders to get students to submit their request before the deadline. This ensures that you get all the information you need with plenty of time to process the requests and plan travel arrangements.