Gavin Beere, Principal and Emma Ritzema-Bain, Associate Principal discuss their experiences before and after they started using Pluto to manage student placements at Hillpark School in Auckland.
In the last weeks of the 2016 school year, I was approached by my associate principal about a new software solution for sorting class composition for the following year. With the plethora of products promoted to ‘help schools’ I was initially dismissive of the idea. However, a certain persistence prevailed, and I agreed to trial ‘Pluto’.
Our existing method of constructing classes centred on a focus on academic, collaborative, social and other factors. There were bits of paper, Blu-tak, and the use of highlighter pens. The process was long winded and occurred at a time when teachers were already bombarded with a myriad of tasks. Our intention is always to let children and parents know where their children would be placed before school ends in the preceding year. This is partly to avoid tricky confrontations on day one!
Pluto is not SMS dependent and the company handle the setting up of a database by converting a pst file or similar, almost immediately for you. A minimum of guidance is required in order to use the software.
The whole staff were amazed at how quickly Pluto sorted the range of parameters we set into coded class lists. The use of different colour text to highlight factors such as incompatible combinations and whether a child had friends in the class made it easy to spot inconsistencies. A simple drag and drop facility negated these.
It is obvious that the developers of Pluto have sector experience and have consulted with end users. Many principals will tell you that we get plenty of offers for product where this process is not evident.
I wholeheartedly endorse this product. The process now takes a fraction of the time to complete. Users are also able to work remotely online to address any changes required. Pluto’s greatest strength is in reducing unintended errors and inconsistencies. This reduces stress on teachers and students as they set for the new school year.
You are welcome to visit the school to check Pluto out.
Ring me on 021 804 855 if you require any further information.