School Type:
Uxbridge, United Kingdom
"The biggest aspect we benefit from is the heightened security Orah provides."
Steve Gardner
Director of Boarding
The Harefield Academy

How did you used to manage daily sign in and out, exeats and pastoral notes?

Day to day sign-in was all done with pen and paper which was very laboursome so we were always chasing people up. For weekend exeats we had a lengthy manual process that required permission from parents and host families which always resulted in email after email to make sure we had the correct approvals in place. So as you can see, everything was very archaic. 

In terms of pastoral notes, the matron would record everything on paper and store it in each pupil’s file. They'd then send emails around to everyone that needed to know which was pretty standard practice.

What made you look for another way to manage this information?

One of my goals has been to make our environment paperless so when I met the Orah team at the BSA Deputy Heads Conference in Brighton I was straight away intrigued. We looked at other solutions but the simplicity of this product really appealed.

That certainly sounds like the direction a lot of people are heading in however, we find a lot of schools worry about the time and effort it takes to switch to a digital solution. With that in mind how would you describe what it was like to get started with Orah?

After I met Orah at the conference they set me up with a free trial within a week and we wanted to see if it could fit within our processes. Almost straight away my staff picked it up and the pupils and their parents really liked it which was a big factor in the decision because having their buy in is crucial to making anything like this work. During the entire process their staff have been great to work with and helped us to ensure a successful launch.

Now that you’ve been using Orah on a regular basis, how has it impacted you and your team the most?

The first thing I've noticed so far has been the fact that everyone really enjoys using it. The engagement with the system has been a huge success which means the kids are filling things out on time and there's been a great response from parents as well. 

This has resulted in far less stress because we’re not chasing people around to get things submitted  and filled out. Plus we have better knowledge of where everyone is at all times. We have an iPad set up in a bracket at reception and the kids just come up and tap to sign-out and in so that covers the day to day sign outs; for exeats and weekend leave the pupils, parents and hosts [if they’re involved with the process] can just log-in and make applications and approvals right from their phone or computers. And for pastoral notes, they're all stored in the student’s file on Orah and there’s also a feature that allows us to flag certain students so all of our staff are made aware of what’s going on when they need to know it rather than being constantly bombarded with emails.

What is the biggest benefit you think other schools in the UK would benefit from?

The biggest aspect I think all of us will benefit most from is the heightened security that Orah provides which is achieved in two ways. First, the sophistication of the product but also the attention and focus on simplicity which really encourages the usage of the system. So there’s no friction from people within your school’s community

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