Greenhithe School is a well established primary school in Auckland, with a roll of approximately 600 students in 2016. As is typical for most schools, Term 4 is often the busiest and perhaps most stressful time of the year at Greenhithe. Not only are the children tired and longing for those much anticipated summer holidays, but teachers and management are also stretched to their limits with many expectations and a myriad of critical priorities to be completed.
One of the key tasks at this time of year is the development of class lists for the following year - ensuring that each student is placed in the best possible class for their needs.
“These class lists are very important to us, because they can have a notable impact on the individual student’s performance in the following year.” says Peter Marshall, Principal at Greenhithe School. “So it’s critical that we place each student in a class that will best serve his or her potential.”
Given the significance of the end result, the process of class placements had typically been a laborious one, requiring considerable time and effort from staff. “Our planning sessions were long, big and colourful. We had lots of different coloured post-it notes with students’ names and needs, all stuck to big sheets of paper, moving them back and forth as various points of view and arguments were presented by teachers and team leaders,” says Heather Walker, DP at the school. “I’m very glad to say that this is all a thing of the past and a very distant memory now.”
In 2014, Greenhithe School was one of the first to trial Pluto. The school was excited to implement a solution that was designed specifically to eliminate the stressful and lengthy manual processes surrounding the development of class lists. As a standalone secure solution, accessed online and independent of the school SMS, it required minimal effort to set up and use.
“When we first used it, I couldn’t believe how easy it was, and most importantly it didn’t jeopardise our priorities around finding the best possible class fit for each individual child. We spent far less time on this process, and saw a far better outcome. I just thought ‘Why hasn’t this always existed?!’,” says Peter, “It was an efficient way to sort the kids for their next year’s classes. It covered everything we wanted it to and required very little effort on our part. Needless to say, we have used Pluto again, and will continue to do so. I can’t imagine ever doing it any other way.”
With Pluto, the teachers at Greenhithe now spend significantly less time on placing their students into their new classes. Within 15-20 minutes, teachers can enter and save all their student information in a secure and private online form - including each individual child’s academic needs, behavioural needs, parent requests, specific friendships, as well as negative combinations.
Pluto then processes all the entered data, evaluating and balancing student requirements, before generating new class lists for review.
Because all the tangible information that the school would normally consider in the manual process is entered into the system, nothing is overlooked. All the needs are considered and balanced by the Pluto software leading to optimal student placement.
What the Management team at the school finds to be one of the most useful features of Pluto, is the ability to easily make changes to the generated lists. For example, if team leaders wish to move a student because of a better teacher personality match, they can simply drag and drop the name from one list to the next. If a change is likely to have negative implications, such as an unfavourable student combination for example, Pluto will highlight this issue. This means that the school is still in full control of the class lists, and is able to make better informed decisions for their students.
With the usual Term 4 pressure leading to more and more cases of staff burnout throughout the country, Heather is happy to report that "This program has made all the difference to our stress levels at the end of the year."
Staff at Greenhithe can now spend those limited end of year hours focusing on other priorities, knowing that next year’s classes will have happier students, teachers and parents.
Feel confident in your class lists, and turn weeks of work into hours - Try Pluto now