FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
How do we get the students information into Pluto? Is it compatible with our School Information Management System?
We ask for two csv files that you export from your School Management System and we load into Pluto. We provide information on exactly what we require. Once the class lists are generated and the job is done, you can export them as a csv file and transfer that back into your School Management System.
We're keen to go ahead with Pluto. What is the next step?
Complete the form on our Sign up page. For more detail about the process after this see our Next Steps document.
We used Pluto last year and we’re ready to get going again this year. What do we need to do?
Email us to let us know and we’ll send you information about the csv files we need from your School Information Management System.
How much does it cost? Is it annual or one off?
The cost is an annual fee. See the Pricing page for more detail.
How much support is available?
We have designed Pluto to be user friendly and intuitive to the process you’d follow sorting classes at school. We have 3 support packages available. They range from the confident user that needs minimal support and is happy to use our tutorial videos and manual, to email support within 24 hours, and finally to those who prefer us to talk them through each step over the phone. See our Support packages here to compare which one is right for your school depending on who the main user of Pluto will be.
Does it store history from year to year?
Yes, the second year you use Pluto you’ll be able to see student relationships that were suggested to keep apart or together based on previous teachers’ opinions. It is there as a reminder and if this relationship is still valid it can be selected and included in the sort.
What about new students, how do we make sure they’re in the sort?
Once you have access to your Pluto account you can type the new students in on the first page. Then they will be included in the sorting process. Even if new enrolments occur after generating your classes you can still enter them and assign them to a room.
Can you match students to teachers?
Yes, you can handpick any students you feel should or shouldn’t be with a certain teacher. Pluto ranks specified student and teacher combinations as one of the highest priorities when sorting. We also have a feature where you can match to certain teacher attributes such as beginning teacher, male role model, strength teaching writing etc.
How do you customize Pluto to my school?
Pluto staff will work with the principal or other designated staff member to set up the system for your school, including the design of student cards. The student card is where Pluto gathers the information that is used when creating your class lists for the following year. It can contain as much or as little information as needed. Some examples of the information contained on student cards include:
- Basic skills e.g. ability in reading/math/writing, behavior, sports
- Miscellaneous attributes e.g. ELL, leadership qualities, requires adult support
- Preferred teachers e.g. suitable for new graduate teacher, needs male role-model
- Groups e.g. reading levels, students' interests, ethnicities
- Student relationships e.g. positive relationships, negative relationships
What if we want more, or different sorting options to what's in the demo? Can the filters/fields be changed?
Pluto is built with customization in mind - whether it be one specific variable or adjusting the sorting options. As part of the set-up process, we will work with you to ensure Pluto is relevant to your school and your individual class sorting approach. Most changes do not incur an extra fee, however some jobs will require more time to set up and may therefore have an extra cost. If this is the case, we will discuss with you prior to commencing any work.
Can Pluto sort multigrade classes? And Modern Learning Environments?
Yes. Pluto can set up composites and larger MLEs and have friendship combinations across split years. Pluto shows the number of students at each year level so you can easily see if you'll need a multigrade class. If your school chooses to have multigrade classes or Modern Learning Environments at every level, this is no problem for Pluto.
How does Pluto differ from my existing School Information Management System?
Pluto is an innovative and first-to-market online program that has been designed to assist teachers and principals in effective student placements and the development of annual class lists. It is designed to work alongside or in conjunction with existing School Information Management Systems, rather than replace or compete with them.
Pluto’s unique software considers student information entered by teachers, such as positive or negative combinations, parent requests or behavior. It then generates class lists within seconds that effectively place students in classrooms which meet as many of their individual needs as possible – a task that is notoriously manual and time consuming. Pluto provides specialised and focused technology specifically designed to reduce the end of year workload and stress.
What formula does it use? How does it solve the classes?
Our proprietary algorithm considers all possibilities based on the data entered by you and your staff and produces a result for you to review. The algorithm follows your selection of what’s the most important sorting factors to your school and more emphasis is put on these. For example if it’s most important to your school that each student has a friend with them next year then these relationships will be placed first.
What software is needed? Do I need to install software or hardware first?
There is nothing to install. All you need is an internet connection. Any recent browser is fine.
What is the security like online?
Pluto is hosted securely and uses https (which is the same security used for internet banking). All users are given strong passwords by default and are restricted to their own school's site and data. We’ve found that schools feel more confident with it being online as there is less chance of many different bits of paper getting lost or falling into the wrong hands.
I know our students and their families so well and we have years of knowledge about what works and what doesn’t in our school. How can a computer program do this job successfully?
We understand the great pains you go to when developing class lists for the following year. As professional educators you are the ones that know your students best. We want your knowledge of the students to be reflected in the outcome, therefore Pluto lets you enter as much data as is relevant. The idea behind Pluto is to increase efficiency in the process by making this task straightforward and stress-free, rather than replace the wealth of knowledge you have as principals and teachers. Our proprietary algorithm considers all possibilities based on the data entered by you and produces a result. You then check the lists and can easily make changes to the classes by dragging and dropping a name if you’ve changed your mind.