A NEW school app which allows parents to track their child’s class absence with the swipe of a finger could see student attendance numbers bolster, according to its developer.
Appsence, designed to connect students, teachers and parents, is an electronic roll marker which tracks student attendance and sends direct messages to parents with smart phones and tablets if the student is away.
The app is currently being trialled in several schools around Canberra, including Stromlo High School and Erindale College, along with schools in NSW, WA and Singapore.
Appsence director David McMillan says he created the app after writing several permission slips for his teenage son.
“I had about 10 in a row and was getting a sore hand so I thought, surely there’s got to be an easier way,” David says.
“We also included advanced absence, where the parent can tell the teacher or school their child will be away via the app, which automatically updates the teacher’s roll for the day.”
David says the app includes online canteen ordering, instant homework reminders and in-app payment options for excursions and school fees.
“It can pretty much do anything you want it to do, it just makes things so much easier for everyone,” David says.
“It also encourages parents to get more involved in their child’s education, because both the student and the parent can see the homework reminders and what the project is. It keeps them up to date.”
David believes the app could increase class attendance, particularly for students with excessive absenteeism.
“If there is a student who skips class, they’ll get a text message saying their parent has been alerted of their absence – so students might hate the app,” he jokes.
“We’ll monitor it over a year and see the figures, but I’ve got no doubt that a year down, the schools will find truancy has decreased.”
David, who spent up to five months developing Appsence with his self-starter company of the same name, says it could save schools “thousands” in fees.
“I had a principal who says the app could save him up to $100,000 in absence management alone,” he says.
“It saves teachers having to ring around and chase up unexplained absences and go through their paperwork a week later, it’s an instant thing, right there at your fingertips.
“Every parent and teacher we’ve shown, they can’t believe how much functionality is available there.”
For more information visit appsence.com.au/
Main photo: Running the new Appsence are Bruce Fuda, left, who assisted with program development at Stromlo High, Stromlo High teacher Katie Hart, year 10 student Andrew George and Appsence director David McMillan. Photo by Gary Schafer