Cranbrook School in New South Wales, Australia, is an Anglican independent day and boarding school for boys encompassing preschool to year 12. Their vision is to be a world-class school that encourages and enables all of its students to explore, enjoy and fulfil their potential. Additionally, they want to provide a well-rounded, rich and distinctive schooling both within and beyond the curriculum and give powerful pastoral support to each pupil in their care.
Orah met with Matthew Banes, Director of Boarding at Cranbrook, to talk about their priorities and how adopting new technology in their school had enabled them to automate school processes, save time and focus on enriching student experiences instead.
The Frustrations That Led to a Change
Undoubtedly, schools have played a role in molding brilliant minds, but it’s really important to grow and evolve with time, so schools are better equipped to teach the next generation. One way of doing so is by adopting newer technologies to combat operational challenges faced.
Cranbrook was facing multiple challenges, listed below:
- Paperwork is the bane of any school administrator's existence: Even in the most organised of processes, there is one thing that more often than not causes problems, and that is paper. In boarding schools, they are in the form of sign-in/sign-out sheets that students use to get from one place to another, leave request process and approvals, parental permissions, forms, and more. E-paperwork also doesn’t mean less paperwork. There is a continuous barrage of emails flooding the staff’s inbox, and the increased number of unread emails is enough to make anybody’s eye twitch.
- Ensuring student safety can be a challenging endeavour: Students are up and about, moving from one place to another engaging in different activities. Other times, they are moving out of the campus to visit home or attend events. How can staff know for sure that every child is where they are supposed to be and are safe? Relying on manual processes to capture relevant data no longer cut it.
It wasn't really sustainable; going back and forth via e-mail to sort out arrangements. Also, the sheer amount of paper and the difficulty of retracing steps and tracking students from scribbled-on sign-out sheets from weeks before needed addressing. It was a combination of those things that made me think that we needed to modernize and update processes.”
The Orah Experience
Orah came into Matt’s radar from the people he had worked with. The initial interactions with the sales team were positive. Cranbrook explored the potential Orah offered to overcome their challenges, and it was a relatively easy choice to make. Orah was an easy-to-use, intuitive solution that can be used by staff, students, and parents and would help everyone be more efficient. The onboarding and training were carried out by the support team. They had everyone’s back and supported with troubleshooting any initial issues that cropped up.
Here’s a rundown of the top features helping Cranbrook scale and be more efficient:
- Student tracking: Using checkpoints, students sign themselves in and out of places enabling the staff to keep an eye on where the boys are at all times. With the COVID-19 disrupting the new normal, it was all the more important to know where students were visiting. With Orah, they could easily check back and cross-reference where people were and where they had come from on any occasion.
“When we needed to know whether any of the boys had been to a particular store, which later became a COVID area of concern, all we needed to do was go onto the app, and with a click of a few buttons, we knew all the important details of who was there and when.”
- Permissions and approvals: Previously, coordinating weekend leave arrangements was a lengthy, drawn-out process. Staff had to coordinate with parents within just a week, sorting through numerous paperwork and emails. With Orah, the email traffic is reduced, and all the interaction happens in one place, i.e., from receiving requests to approving them while keeping parents in the know. It saved a lot of time, the time that can be utilized elsewhere on more pressing priorities.
- Rolls: Staff got to move away from jotting down attendance on paper to taking it to the device of their choice. Also, collaboration with other staff members just became a whole lot easier.