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Schools Get Savvy About Student Leave

A Christchurch company has launched new software that keeps track of students as they come and go from boarding schools.

LeaveRegister, developed by Easy Software, enables school managers and house tutors to manage student leave more effectively, as well as planning for meals and recording students' leave patterns over time. They can closely monitor students' movements and record accurate leave information for parents and administrators.

The software can be configured to suit a particular school's leave policies. For instance, it can record and notify if particular students are grounded. It notifies supervisors instantly if students are overdue and supervisors can over-ride the system where appropriate using a range of security levels. A history of each student's leave behaviour is recorded.

Believed to be the first software of its type to be developed, LeaveRegister was created by Ben Gelton of EasySoftware, who had the idea for the software when he was a house tutor at St Andrews College in Christchurch.

"I saw how difficult it was to maintain a paper-based system and decided there was a better way using IT. I know student leave causes major headaches for boarding schools, can impact on their relationships with parents, and of course there is the risk of students coming to harm and the school being unable to trace their movements," he says. "Paper-based systems are ineffective in this climate."

Supervision of students is a major issue for schools as parents become increasingly litigious and schools more liable. The media has recently reported cases where schools have incurred large fines for supervision-based issues. Legal expert Patrick Walsh, chair of the Australia and New Zealand Educational Law Association, has called for schools to pay greater attention to supervision-based issues.

"The introduction of the Education Amendment Bill (2000) places greater responsibility on those who manage hostels, and the involvement of the Education Review Office in reviewing hostels and the possible imposition of penalties means that the duty of care has been increased. Part of this duty necessarily involves the ability to know when students are at school and their capacity to monitor their movements," says Mr Walsh.

St Andrews College housemaster Ian White says LeaveRegister has saved him time and reduced his anxiety about students' whereabouts. "I don't have to spend time compiling information for weekend leaves, checking for overdue students or trying to work out where students have been over the last week if a leave issue arises. All the information is centralised, it's easy to follow and can't be changed by students. I have greater confidence that we are covering ourselves and I know that if a leave situation occurs I can deal with it quickly," he says.

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