back to article School chases truants by text

A school in Bedford has become the latest outpost of the public sector to turn to text messages as the answer to all its problems. Newnham Middle School in Bedford is buying Truancycall, an automated system that will notify parents by text and email if their kids forget to turn up at school. The system is pitched not just as …


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  1. Anonymous Coward

    Forget to turn up for school?

    Damn I wish that excuse worked for me :(

  2. Adam Foxton
    Thumb Up

    Windows based?

    So more often than not the message would be "Your son/daughter was in a terrible crash?"

    Also, thumbs up as this seems like a good system. No real invasion of privacy for the kid and no real hassle for the parents or school.

    And after they've been found being truant a few times, stick a GPS locator tag on them so you can see where they go- either that or they're recorded as going to school.

    And if they're spitting on people, lock the little frackers up.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    In spite of everything, you know this will happen:

  4. Xander

    Answer phones?

    Not to piss on the parade but a number of automated things ring my phone and my answer phone usually picks up. So if they record the response they could expect a lot of "Hello. I'm not here right now." answers....

  5. Iain
    Gates Horns

    Why oh why

    I am sure that the technology will break down somewhere along the way with predictable consequences, but it sounds like a pretty good idea.

    But you couldn't just admit it was a good idea making appropriate use of modern technology could you, no, had to put a negative spin on it in the last sentence.

    You bunch of pessimists and naysayers. It might just work! (although I did see the M-word in there)

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    What a waste of time!

    A lot of the time the truants are from families where the parents couldn't give a monkey's if their kids go to school or not, if they do the kids will not listen to their parents when they tell them to get to school. So you're wasting my taxes on telling a big group of people stuff they already knew or pretty much suspected!

  7. Lee Dowling


    I don't see how it's news, though.

    The Essex school I left (as an IT technician) last year had this same software / setup. It's considered standard in some schools now. As far as I know, they've had it for years and still use it - they are an "Academy" now, or soon will be, but they were classed as "Special Measures" for the last few years, and yet they still afforded this system. Strangely, throwing the brats out the school gets a better response than TruancyCall, and makes for a better school.

    It's quite flash as an idea but it is just simple software connected to a SMS gateway. From a techinical point of view, it was quite simple and stable and I don't think I had to deal with it once apart from a annual refresh of the machine.

  8. Anthony Mark

    Just charge the parents £5 a time to receive the texts...

    ...and they'll make sure their little darlings are in school every day.

  9. Steve

    Would be more useful if....

    ...they were texting the kids. The register is taken in about the first ten minutes of the school day, allow another 10/15 minutes for the admin staff to scan in the sheets. Then, within 30 minutes of the day starting you can text all the absent kids saying, "You're not in school and we have no reason for your absence. Arrive at school by Xam or we will contact your parents/parole officer/animal handlers."

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Nothing new

    We currently use a similar system at my current school and have been using this for over a year now. It has had benefits as well as problems.

    For what id does it costs the schools concerned far more than what it's actually worth so for that reason its a big hands down for me

    Teachers like it mind (so they can spend more of the tax payers money on rubbish)

  11. Kwac

    Windows based?

    So it runs under WINE without any problems?

    Or has the Gates buttocks/Blair tongue interface been replaced by a similar Balmer/Brown connection, with a continuation of the two-finger salute to the UK Government's 'policy' on open source software and interoperability?

  12. Ryan

    Oh, why did you have to put "Windows-based"?

    The moment I saw that it spoiled all surprises on what the comments would be.

    Bloody sheeple...


  13. Simon Neill

    @Answer phones?

    They have to press a key before it will record a response. I've seen similar software.

  14. AC

    "their kids forget to turn up at school"

    hahaha classic, yeah bet that's what happened.

    I bet the parents are fully aware of their kids lack of attendance and couldn't give two ... about it.

    A better system would be to send a report to the local pig station at the end of a week saying "Mrs X didn't send it's kids to school X times this week"

    Once records are then kept {and lost no doubt} they can just arrest them/stop their benefits/evict them from council housing.

    That would sort it out much quicker.

  15. Steve
    Thumb Down


    How would they record a response to a text or an email... Perhaps you should read the article more thoroughly.

    Speaking of which, as articles go it's a bit sensationalist to say that they've turned to txt as the answer to all their problems. More like a partial solution to a specific problem, but that doesn't sound as good.

    As for those parents who can't answer the phone (to a text?) like teachers, I guess that they are capable of reading the texts or checking answer phone messages during their break, or whilst they go to the bathroom. Email is really only useful for those parents who sit in front of a computer all day though, and they'll mostly be to busy reading el reg, right?

  16. Steve
    Dead Vulture

    I see the confusion

    "The Windows-based system sends a text to the parent’s mobile, and an email. Parents can respond directly to the automated phone call,"

    Which is it, is it a text or is it an automated phone call. Where are the sub editors, they need a good whipping.

  17. Simon Painter
    Thumb Down

    I love a bit of new technology me.

    But this is a stupid new solution to a problem which never used to be there.

    Kids don't skip school because their parents don't know about it, they skip school because their parents don't care. If you prosecute and fine parents who do not do their job properly then the problem goes away pretty bloody quickly. If the parent does not have the skills to deal with the problem then that's where social services should be handing out mandatory parenting classes rather than letting them pass the buck on to someone else.

    In the old days if a kid was seen outside of school on a weekday they were often challenged by a copper and if caught would be taken into safe custody until such times as their parents could explain why they were not at school. Instead of coppers we now only have community support wombles who are less qualified and have fewer powers than a traffic warden. These fools can't apprehend a youth because they would be too scared that they would be accused of touching them inapropriately.

    What are my taxes being spent on exactly? Surely they should put a few police officers on the John Lewis list.

  18. Anonymous Coward


    Maybe I'm just not as trusting as you to say "Hello. I'm not here right now."; so I have my message just say, "I can't come to the phone right now." so they really don't know if I'm home or not; day or night.

    Cell phone and texting and emails won't work 'cos I won't own a mobe!

    Local schools just call and leave messages if they need and I get back to then when and if i can/feel like it.

  19. Damfoose

    It works kinda !!!

    School my son goes to uses this sort of system, Thing is when his bus to school is late registration is bypassed and its straight to assembily,

    Bus is late alot, Guess how many texts / phone calls me and my wife get along the lines of " Your son is not in school why ? " my usual answer " Were the buses late today go check assembily " you would think they would have learnt by now.

    Stop sign, Because we need to stop all this namby pamby bowing to the retarded do gooders and use our brains for a change.

  20. Anonymous Coward

    I for one...

    I for one welcome our Windows based Txt Messaging alert system overlords.

    Wow thats a mouthful. Great idea :)

  21. Andy Livingstone

    @Inevitable --Anonymous Coward

    Only in America??

    The Perry Bible Foundation site with a cartoon saying "go eat a dick". !!!!!!

    How about saving on technology and bringing back Attendance Officers to get this stuff sorted out?

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Excellent piece of kit

    We use this package at the school where I work. Excellent pice of kit and has driven truancy rates right down, even including some of the little b*st*rds we hoped we'd never see again.

  23. Adam Foxton


    Have you read the comments? Okay, one awful joke from me. Fair enough. Hardly the normal "windoze" or "M$" comments that normally appear and meant in a lighthearted way. One that, amazingly, hasn't been done before either AFAIK.

    But the only other Windows comment was from someone commenting that it went against the government's own policies on Open Source and so on.

    Hardly "you knew what the comments would be, bloody sheeple" levels of OS bigotry. For that, wait till Webster points out it's not an Apple for the teachers...

  24. Xander


    "Shoud the parent not respond the system will try again in an hour ... Parents can respond directly to the automated phone call, either with their own text or with a verbal message ... the school then has a stack of responses it can view or listen to"

    In fairness the article keeps swapping between text message / email / phone call mid-sentence so I can see where the confusion sets in.

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