Brisbane Catholic Education (BCE) operates within the Archdiocese of Brisbane. It provides high quality teaching and learning for almost 71,000 students from preparatory school to year 12 through a community of 137 schools and colleges. While each of the schools is locally managed, the BCE office offers umbrella support in the form of management, administrative, learning and teaching and employee services. It also provides a broad range of resources, including information technology systems, which the schools are invited to adopt.

In the last decade or so, technology has dramatically changed the way schools communicate with parents and the community. There’s an immediacy that simply didn’t exist years ago. In many BCE schools for example, SMS messages are sent on a daily basis to the parents of any absent students. It’s a welcome service that reassures parents of the whereabouts of their children and helps to ensure student attendance is tightly monitored.

Five years ago the BCE office was working on the deployment of a new enterprise school administration system which, among other things, would help to record student attendance. Sharyn Creed, Manager of School Information Services, and Anne Gibson, Senior Service Management Officer at BCE Office were aware that the platform would have to mimic all the functionality that schools already had if they wanted schools to adopt the new system. The only problem was that the software lacked an SMS component.

“We had to find something that could integrate with the system so that schools could link into the attendance information and SMS parents. It had to be reliable and something that we could support, but which the schools could manage locally,” Creed notes. Security was critical due to the personal nature of the contact information. BCE discussed the problem with the developer of the enterprise school administration system but they weren’t in a position to offer a solution quickly.”

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