The Arbor guide to managing your school during covid-19

Maddie Kilminster - 20 April, 2021

Category : Blog

The Arbor guide to managing your school during covid-19

Since the pandemic began over a year ago, schools have been working in lots of new ways, adapting sometimes week by week to changing guidelines from the Government.  At Arbor, we’ve worked with our community of over 1,600 primary, secondary, special schools and MATs to develop new product features which support you with the new

Since the pandemic began over a year ago, schools have been working in lots of new ways, adapting sometimes week by week to changing guidelines from the Government

At Arbor, we’ve worked with our community of over 1,600 primary, secondary, special schools and MATs to develop new product features which support you with the new challenges – from remote teaching and learning, to reporting to the DfE, to rolling out covid testing. During this time, we’ve also moved over 600 schools to Arbor during 100% remotely.

How Arbor can help you run your school this term

1. Close the post-covid attainment gap

Since the Government introduced Catch-Up Premium funding, it’s been important for schools to identify where the attainment gaps have opened up across their student groups as a result of lockdown disruption, and the “catch-up” initiatives that will support students the most.

Arbor can support you with closing your attainment gaps at each step of the way:

  • Identify students who have fallen behind with our built-in analysis screens – Compare students’ progress against expectations across multiple assessment periods, filter by key demographic groups and drill down to see the students behind the trends
  • Run a personalised report in a few clicks to see the impact of other school factors on students’ attainment, including demographics, behaviour and attendance. Schedule reports to notify key staff members regularly 
  • Add students to interventions as soon as you spot a concern, or set criteria for students to get added automatically. Track the costs and outcomes of your initiatives, and keep parents in the loop along the way

Read an interview with the Director of Inclusion and SEND at The Mead Educational Trust about how their “catch-up” strategy is going


2. Track, trace and test your students and staff 

To help you deliver Covid-19 testing, we’ve made it easy to track everything in Arbor with our new Testing Register. Schedule regular tests for staff and students, see who is due for a test each day, manage guardian consents, update test results and log confirmed cases. Parents can also instantly log covid test results for their children on their Arbor App. What’s more, Arbor’s My Classroom is a really handy way to trace contact between students by using our live seating plans. 


3. Manage attendance, absence and cover

To save you time completing the DfE’s Daily Form, Arbor’s Covid-19 Dashboard crunches the numbers for you, giving you all the student attendance data you need to submit in the form each morning. Plus, staff absences are flagged to everyone who needs to know, making arranging cover simple.

Your Dashboard is up-to-date with the latest attendance codes and categories that the DfE is tracking, including key vulnerable categories and confirmed or suspected cases of Covid-19. Click on each category for a breakdown by year group and a full list of students, and follow up with guardians straight away if you need to.

For a MAT-level overview, you can use Arbor’s Group MIS to analyse all your student and staff data in one place. Monitor attendance patterns, student and staff absence, key disadvantaged and vulnerable groups and manage Covid-19 related issues centrally.

Check out our latest community article about how Arbor can support you as an Attendance Officer.


4. Share information and important messages

Forget switching between systems or uploading or downloading contact lists, in Arbor you can follow up with parents, students or other staff members as soon as you spot something important, from wherever you are in the system. Simply choose the method that’s best for your message – from an email, an SMS, a mail merge letter or a message via the Arbor App.

Find out how Arbor’s communications allowed The Parks Academies Trust to improve the way they contacted hard-to-reach students during the pandemic.

Check out three top tips for communicating with your staff, parents and guardians from our Head of Support, Emily.

5. Build a timetable around your school

Depending on the various year groups, bubble classes, plus a range of clubs, trips and activities, your timetable is probably quite the balancing act. Arbor makes it easy to design exactly the right timetable for your school, with an easy integration with TimeTabler if you need to build something particularly advanced. Stagger your start and end times, meal times, and keep tabs on where everyone is with a live central calendar.

Plus, Arbor is designed to be flexible, making it easy to adjust and change your timetable whenever you need to – which has come in handy throughout the changes in government regulations over the past year. 

6. Manage virtual and blended learning provision

It’s now important to have a reliable virtual learning environment so that you can continue provision for students who are isolating at home. Having everything set up also means you’ll be able pivot to remove provision at short notice if you need to.

Since schools started to offer virtual teaching and learning, we’ve developed integrations with Google Classroom™ and Microsoft Office 365, which makes managing online learning fast and secure. With our integrations, all your student and staff information sync automatically into your Google or Microsoft accounts, saving you any manual data entry. What’s more, once you’re set-up, data syncs every 24 hours, meaning your information is always up-to-date.

7. Support your vulnerable students

In Arbor, it’s easy to pull together custom reports on key demographic groups, including children with EHCP, child protection status, FSM, and children of key workers at school or MAT level. Given that Clinically Extremely Vulnerable (CEV) staff and students have been told to shield at home, you’ll easily be able to track their attendance, send out communications or add them to an intervention in Arbor.

Arbor’s in-built safeguarding features also help you keep on top of any changes to your students’ circumstances – from automatic notifications on the Homepage when any student records change, to medical notes and key pastoral information flagged on every Lesson Dashboard.  

Check out our most popular blogs on supporting vulnerable students:

8. Plan an effective school budget

At this time in the year when School Budgeters are looking ahead to next year and how they can use school resources best to support students. It’s also a time when there will be a lot of reflection on the extreme and challenging year it’s been since Covid-19 began. 

Using your latest financial data from the DfE combined with expert analysis, we’ve created Financial Benchmarking Reports for every school and academy in England. The reports give you an overview of all your income and expenditure over the past three years, with comparisons against national financial results, schools like you and others in your local area.

Arbor Financial Benchmarking reports are visual and easy-to-read PDFs, with helpful commentary and colour-coded stats, giving you reliable evidence needed to drive forward budget planning decisions. Perfect for presenting at Governor meetings.

Simply sign into your free Arbor Insight portal to download your copy of your latest report:

  • Schools Financial Benchmarking (SFB) Report – with latest 2019/20 data
  • Academies Financial Benchmarking (AFB) Report – with latest 2019/20 data

Find out more about schools’ financial benchmarking in our guide.

9. Look out for student and staff wellbeing

As we’ve been working with school staff closely this past year, we’ve learnt a lot about the impressive job everyone has been doing, as well as the enormous pressure you’ve been under. Mental wellbeing is really important to us at Arbor, and our in-house wellbeing experts have been putting together tips and advice for how you can encourage positive wellness at your school. Discover the latest blogs:

We’re here to help

Because Arbor is cloud-based, you can manage your school with more flexibility, accessing what you need to do your job from wherever you’re working. Plus, if the DfE brings out any new guidelines, we make updates to the system as soon as we can (sometimes even on the same day!) to help you keep up to date.

Don’t forget the Arbor Team is here to support you whenever you need us.

Discover more about Arbor MIS

If you’d like to find out how Arbor MIS could transform the way you work for the better, join our webinar series, which includes live demos, as well as sessions walking you through how we move schools to Arbor and work with you to drive long term impact. Check out what’s coming up and book your spot.

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