Before Boardingware, how did you keep track of your students, process leave requests and day-to-day sign in/out?
It was all paper based. The boys were responsible for telling their parents and they would have to obtain approval via email or txt from their parents if they needed to go home.
As far as our day-to-day duties were concerned, our boys had to come and see us to be signed-out. We’d then sign them out and record the time they left. When they returned, we’d have to find their name in a long list of all the other boys who have also signed out just to sign them back in.
What was the biggest challenge or problems you faced with your old system?
Storing everything and keeping it all in order. If we needed to know something, we would have to go back and sift through all our records to see when they left or arrived etc. It was very time consuming.
So when you were first considering Boardingware, did you have any fears, hesitations, or objections?
Not really, the only hesitation we had was whether our staff would be able to cope with the technology. I didn’t worry about it too much because as soon as they got used to it, it just became second nature. I still have a couple staff who aren’t as invested with it but they are getting better now because they realise that going back to a paper based system is just not worth it.
How would you describe your transition from your old paper-based system to a digital one?
Getting started with Boardingware was a piece of cake. You guys uploaded all of our information for me. I just downloaded the data from KAMAR (School management system), sent it to you guys as a CSV and we were up and running in no time.
It just took a couple of days to get used to it but that’s what comes with any kind of new software package.
Now that you’ve been using Boardingware on a regular basis, what specific features have been most beneficial for you?
Probably the signing in and out feature and how quick it is. My matron used to process weekend leave and it would take her at least 3-4 hours a week. Now she doesn’t have to do anything because the parents have already authorised the leave with all the details and all I have to do is approve it.
Another benefit would be how easy it is to organise everything. It’s very easy to go back through everything. If for example, there’s an incident with the police and you have to know when a boy was signed in. All I’d have to do is go straight to that student’s profile, look up his history and there it is, bang.
If I had to do that with our old paper system, it would take ages to find the right day of the week and then you’d have to find his name and everything else.
And how have your students and parents reacted to Boardingware?
Oh yes. Our new parents, especially the younger ones love it because they can see what their child is doing. It’s brilliant. We do have the odd parent who doesn’t have a computer at home but we just compromise and handle those two the old fashion way.
How would you describe your relationship with Boardingware and the support that you receive?
Second to none. No problem at all. If I have any issues, I can just open the chat box right in the app and ask my question. Kathleen has always gotten back to me very quickly and sorted things out. It’s been very good and I could not be happier.
Would you recommend Boardingware?
Oh absolutely. I couldn’t imagine doing it any other way now. It’s so much easier and eliminates any hassle. If I had to sign a boy out the old way, I’d first need to have a pen, and that means you got to find a pen… It just takes the hassle out of little things like that.
Our school WiFi turns off at 10pm each night but that’s not a problem because it works offline. We can continue to make adjustments and in the morning when the WiFi turns back on again at 7am, our changes have updated automatically. Easy.
Do you have anything else you’d like to add?
If someone said to me right now, “You’ve got to go back to your paper system…" I would fight it. It’s just crazy. My matron loves it because it’s so much easier for weekend leave. We know everything that’s happening with our boarders and It’s great for communicating with parents and eliminating the back and forth checks and balances.
About Ian and Whangarei Boys High School:
Ian is the Director of Boarding at Whangarei Boys High School in NZ, where their boarding program (Carruth House) services around 80 students. Carruth house offers a safe and secure environment with friendly caring staff to help enhance the boys’ opportunities for educational and social development.
Prior to working at Whangarei Boys High School, Ian also worked as a boarding coordinating inspector in the UK for Independent Schools Inspectorate (ISI) and has also had many years of experience at other boarding schools in the UK and NZ.
School website: http://www.wbhs.school.nz/