Keeping Parents Infomed On Weather
12 December 2001

Local News & Scottish News News Index


A school information helpline was launched in the Highlands this week to provide parents with a more effective update on weather and travel arrangements over the winter months. The Highland Council has adopted an automated call handling system, devised by Thus PLC, one of the UK's leading providers of communications solutions, which will complement existing arrangements for alerting parents, such as broadcasting closures on local radio.

Using a national call rate telephone number, the helpline will be available at all primary and secondary schools in Highland.  Parents are being notified this week by their school of the national rate number as well as a six digit PIN specific to their child's school.  On dialing this number, the facility will connect callers to a menu of options which includes:-

*A single message from the head teacher relating to events around the possible closure of a school and effects on transport during adverse weather;

*The possibility of hearing up to a maximum of 10 school announcements of a non-urgent nature;

* The ability to transfer to another schools message without having to make repeat calls. This will be very useful for parents with children at more than one school.

Bruce Robertson, Director of Education, said: "We have responded to a very clear need to improve the service we provide in schools in keeping parents informed when bad weather strikes or there is a problem with school transport. In the past, parents and teachers alike were frustrated by the constraints of having only one telephone line available at the school. In some instances, the large volume of calls into the school prevented urgent calls to and from the
bus companies and the Met.  Office being made. I am sure the new service will prove to be very successful and helpful to members of the school community."

Mr Robertson stressed that all existing information arrangements will remain in place e.g. announcements on the radio as described in the adverse weather guidelines recently issue to parents.  Bill Allan, Chief Executive of Thus plc, said: "I am delighted that This is working with The Highland Council to provide a solution that will improve the health and safety of its pupils and communicate more effectively with parents.  Large call volumes can be managed easily and the school can update the information as often as required.  A facility for parents to leave messages is also available.