Technology traps troublesome truants

By RODNEY STEVENS

newsroom@dailyexaminer.com.au

SOUTH Grafton High School has turned to technology to police student truancy.

Installed last week, a computer software program alerts parents if their child is absent from school without explanation.

The system, which works through a call centre, advises parents of their absent child or children via a text message to their mobile phone at 11am.

A Department of Education spokesman said the use of the commercially available software was a quick way of tracking down unexplained absentees.

"South Grafton High School became aware of the system through their own research and networking with several high schools in Sydney regarding several issues to do with student welfare," he said.

"All schools want to maximise their attendance and this system is seen as one of the solutions to the problem."

Not necessarily prompted by a truancy problem at South Grafton High School, the automated callback system has been adopted by a number of schools across the State, but is not a policy of the NSW Education Department.

The spokesman said it was a school-by-school decision on whether to implement this sort of technology.

"A lot of schools still ring parents on a normal landline," he said.

South Grafton High School has reported overwhelming parental support for giving it a go.

Students are marked off the roll manually by teachers in the morning and each roll is subsequently entered electronically through a barcode system connected to a computer.

The software application then communicates with a call centre which, in turn, notifies applicable parents of their child's absence via a text message to their mobile phone.



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