Automated software fails school test

UK schools sent out more than 100,000 automated text and phone messages to parents warning them of school closures during bad weather in the run up to Christmas - but many failed to arrive until it was too late.

One Cambridgeshire parent welcomed the closure alert, but said it arrived after 11am on the morning of the school closure - almost three hours after the news had been announced on local radio.

IT solutions vendors have spotted the opportunity, and are introducing products into the market aimed at addressing the issue. The Call Parents automated notification system, for example, is installed in over 1,000 primary and secondary schools in the UK.

Call Parent reads live pupil contact information from the school management system, and sends out automated text or voice messages (using text to speed translation software) about school closures, school trip cancellations or delays, and dates for school reports to mobile phones, landlines, or via email.

CallParents also reads live student attendance information, and will send parents an alert that asks them to verify if their child is absent through sickness or other reasons.

An estimated 2,000 UK schools in Cambridgeshire, Suffolk, Essex, Norfolk, Kent, Hertfordshire, Buckinghamshire, Yorkshire, Surrey, Berkshire and Sussex were forced to close on the last day of term in December, reports suggest.

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