Organising calendars in school

This week's TIDE talk touched on the topic of organising school calendars, so I thought I'd explain what happens here for what it's worth (and lay bare the system's weaknesses for any who might be tempted to copy wholesale what we do).

We are a GoogleApps for Education school, so we've set up a shared Google calendar (called the provisional calendar) which is editable by any member of staff in the school.

I am the owner of this calendar and have set up an IFTTT recipe to alert me when anyone makes any alterations. The e-mails this generates can be a little annoying (right after the PE departments have just input a raft of fixtures for example) but they give me a little peace of mind. I'd be able to see - though I should stress this has never happened - if someone deleted another member of staff's entry maliciously, for example. The alerts also allow me to head off clashes and unsuitable trips before they get any further through the system. In order to gain traction fast I made a little video explaining to staff what they needed to do.

At the base of the shared calendar page on our intranet I've typed out the various steps in the process, and who's responsible for them, as follows:

Workflow for the people who make this work:
  1. Staff invited to make entries for the forthcoming term (TJJ)
  2. Sharing permissions revoked just before the end-of-term calendar meeting (TJJ)
  3. Calendar printed off and copies made for calendar meeting delegates (TJJ)
  4. Alterations made to the calendar online reflecting decisions made at the calendar meeting (TJJ)
  5. Calendar finalised and downloaded as a .csv file (using GCal2Excel) for merging into the pupil planner (TJJ)
  6. Entries standardised for the pupil planner and external website (TEW)
  7. The .csv file then used to populate the pupil planner and the external website (TEW)
  8. Pupil planner finalised and sent off to printer's (TEW)
  9. Sharing permissions reinstated and staff invited to make new entries for the forthcoming term (TJJ)
The final stage is to export the cleansed and standardised entries to our public calendar for everyone connected with the school to see.
The system works pretty well now, except that:
  1. it would be nice to have separate calendars for the Junior School, for boys sport, for girls' sport etc. - at present everything appears in one place so it's all or nothing.
  2. having two (unconnected) calendars is a bit clunky. Schools definitely need some sort of fire-break between events being placed in and then being made public, but it would be nice if this didn't call for the existance of two calendars.
  3. the job of standardizing the entries is long, tedious and thankless. Inevitably miskakes slip through. A better system would have some sort of input masks for the teachers entering the data that forced consistency - Parents Evening or parents' evening etc. - silly little things, but important nonetheless...
Anyway, there you have it.


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