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How we support the education sector

The education sector relies on effective communication. From teachers to administrative staff, students, federations and parents, there’s a lot of people who need to stay informed. We know that schools and colleges often face vast call volumes, especially during busy times of year such as admission periods, extreme weather days or when exam results are released. We’ve provided communication services for education providers for years now, but the pandemic created new challenges.

When covid hit in 2020, schools had to adapt incredibly quickly. Virtual lessons became the norm, but there were often lots of teething problems around the technology. Whether it was a lack of compatible devices or security issues surrounding some consumer grade services. We provided video conferencing, and other solutions that supported schools during this time. Today we’ll explain how, and also the impact that they’ve had now that students are back in the classroom.

Video conferencing

There are now a huge number of video conferencing services available for schools, and it can be incredibly difficult to know which ones deliver on their promise. There are many consumer grade services that say that they can work well for schools, but don’t present all the features necessary.

A video conferencing service that works well for schools has to be secure, support large numbers of participants without having connectivity issues, allow the sharing of documents and to maintain high quality audio at all times.

This is where MS Teams thrives. Teams is primarily a business platform, and while this doesn’t sound particularly student friendly, it means that it has a more comprehensive range of features. It’s important that schools follow some best practices when using Teams:

  • Don’t share invite links through anything but the most secure channels, no social media!
  • Keep an eye on content shared in Teams chats, they have been previously used to distribute malware.
  • Avoid logging on to Teams via public or unsecure networks.

Connectivity

Many schools are located in older buildings. These often don’t have the infrastructure to support the latest technology. In rare occasions they are even listed buildings that have strict regulations on the kind of installations that can take place within them. Without a reliable access to the internet, lessons and seminars can be a frustrating experience for teachers and students alike.

That’s why we work with connectivity provider, Ubiquiti. Ubiquiti provide WiFi access points that can be strategically installed across your site, to create a mesh network. This means that the access points overlap so your connection won’t drop out as you move around the site. This is ideal for staff and students who need to access the internet on the go.

Our connectivity service is also student friendly. It comes with the option to create a separate Guest Network for students, which can automatically block inappropriate or unsecure sites.

SIMS Integration

Schools use a range of specialist software to track attendance and stay in touch with parents. Whether it’s the database systems, SIMS or Arbor education, it’s important that any new technology you install works seamlessly alongside these services.

Our phone systems integrate alongside these database services. This means when a parent calls in, the member of staff who answers their call will immediately see their details, such as who their child is and any notes made by colleagues. This allows for a more efficient and personalised call handling service. It also works the other way, and numbers are automatically logged and added to SIMS.

Call handling

As we mentioned at the start of this blog, call volumes are incredibly high in the education sector. Especially on snow days or exam results day, you need to have a way of handling these calls as effectively as you manage the morning rush.

We can add a call queue service to your phone system. This is more advanced than just leaving callers to listen to some grainy music while they wait on hold. It tells them exactly where they are in the queue, so they can decide whether to wait or call back later. It also includes helpful on-hold messaging that can be programmed by your team. Messaging can help to highlight everything from changes to your service, your opening hours, or helping to direct parents to an appropriate email address or live web chat if one is required.

Whether it’s a unique circumstance, or just a busy Monday, your team will be able to react to any situation effectively.

Whether it’s added flexibility to help your team work at their best from home, services to keep you connected or just handle calls more professionally, YTL can help. For more information, and a free comms audit, get in touch with YTL at 01924 249 499