PS: Creating your first permission slip

Jan 23, 2018

A short article that helps you understand the process to creating your first permission slip.

What you need to know

Until recently ‘permission slips’ were a paper based request passed to the parent to complete a set of questions required for an activity or excursion run by the school.

Today our information centric world provides an environment in which the processes of the past are restructured to provide greater efficiency, speed and accuracy.  SOBS Permission Slips utilises SMS, Email and Print technologies to provide more flexibility and an array of options to meet the demanding requirements of today’s schools.

We have grouped different types of permission slips into three broad categories:

  • When a simple question with a Yes/No type response is required the SMS permission slip may be the best and fastest option.
  • When there are a series of questions to be answered along with granting of permission the WEB permission slip may be the most efficient option.
  • When the school requires a parent’s signature on a form, the PRINT permission slip will be the only option.

Let’s get started

Creating the Permission Slip

  1. Log into the SOBS Permission Slip application.  If your school doesn’t have a current subscription you may self-register for a trial of the application.
  2. You will need to import your school’s student data.  We have a number of import options existing, if yours is not listed please check the integration list as it may have been recently added.  If it is not on the integration list then please contact us – we are generally happy to develop an integration options for student management systems.  As a last resort there is a standard CSV option.
    Current options at the time of writing are:
  3. Click on the ‘School settings’ link in the Configuration menu and the “PS” tab
  4. Click the ‘Edit’ button (top right) and select from the list of integration options and then click ‘Save’
    While you are here you may want to enable the Approval option if your school requires Permission Slips to be approved before they can be sent to parents
  5. Click on the ‘Import/Export’ link in the Configuration menu and then on the radio button for the import data to process.
    This will often display some helpful information about creating your import file, for example if CSV was selected the help information includes the format of the CSV file.
  6. Complete the import of your student data
  7. Click on ‘My slips’ to display your list of Permission Slips (there won’t be any here yet)
  8. In the top right of the page you will find an option to ‘Add a new Permission Slip’ – click this
  9. Enter a description for the Permission Slip – parents will see this description so ensure it describes what the permission slip is for
  10. Select the type: SMS is for a single question and Yes/No response; PRINT is for a paper form signed by the parent; WEB if for an electronic form (the signed paper is not required)
  11. Select the notification method: “Email/SMS” will attempt to send the parent notification via email first, and if there is no email address it will then use a mobile number.  “SMS/Email” reverses this choice, sending the SMS message first followed by the email if there is no mobile number
  12. Finally select the due date (and optionally a time) that you require the permission slip to be completed by
  13. The permission slip is now displayed along with an ‘Actions’ menu at the right hand end of the line.  Click on the ‘Actions’ menu to select additional options that apply to this permission slip
  14. From the Actions menu select ‘Add students’ (or it may just say ‘Students’)
  15. A list of currently selected students will be displayed – the first time in there will not be any students listed
    In the ‘Actions’ menu at the top right of the table you can click on the option to ‘Add more students’
  16. The Add student dialog allows you to search by Class, Year level or Surname to find students.  Students located are displayed in a list, and they are by default all selected.  You can manually go through and unselect / select students from the search result.  When you have all of the necessary students selected click the ‘Save’ button at the bottom of the dialog
    *NOTE: You can repeat the search and selection to include different classes and/or different year levels in the final list of students
  17. Finally the list of students are displayed.  At this stage you will also be able to see the parent’s names and contact details.  You can use the ‘Actions’ menu at the right of each student to edit the student and parent information, however remember that this may well be overwritten the next time you import your student data, so it may be best to make any corrections at the source (your Student Management System)
  18. Click “Back to permission slips” (or you can click “My slips”) to return to the list of permission slips
  19. From the Actions menu select “Add content” – this will take you to the page where the content of the permission slip is created
  20. The first time in you will use the “Add content” button to begin adding content.  Later there will be template option to choose from as other staff create and save standard information questions that you can include in your permission slip.
    The “Add content” function will allow you to enter and format content that would otherwise normally appear on a printed permission slip, so you can copy and paste each section to build your content.  The simplest concept is to break up your content based on where a response is required, so all of the data prior to first response can be included in the first item of content.  With each content section you can then select the type of response that is required, whether this is Yes/No, a selection from a list of options, a free text value, an acknowledgement, or the granting of permission.
    As you build your content you will be able to move these up and down your Permission Slip.
    You should be sure to include one content entry that uses the “Approval” response type – this should be the question that asks if the parent gives their permission for their child to attend the event/excursion, and it is the response that we will use to indicate this child has been granted permission to attend.
  21. Lastly in regard to content, there are a number of substitution tokens you can use in your content that will be replaced by information from the parent/student detail (the token including the percentage signs will be replaced by the data it refers to):
    %STUDENT_NAME% (firstname surname)
    %STUDENT_SMSID% (Your SMS system number)
    %STUDENT_NUMBER% (Education department number)
    %STUDENT_YL% (The student’s year level)
    %PARENT_FIRSTNAME% (The primary parent – Parent 1)
    %PARENT_NAME% (firstname surname)
  22. Click “Back to permission slips” (or you can click “My slips”) to return to the list of permission slips

Creating the permission slip is about creating the slip, adding content, and building a list of students.  Next we will look at sending the permission slip to the parents

Sending the Permission Slips

  1. In the Actions menu you can now click “Send to parents” – this will display a dialog with a list of the parents and the contact method displayed.  Give the list a final check before you click the “Send” button
  2. The link to the Permission Slip will be sent to each parent, each link is personalised to identify a student, so the parent will only have access to their own child’s form
Once the permission slip has been sent we can then monitor the responses from the list of Permission Slips.  The three numbers indicate the number of students, the number of slips sent, and the number of responses.  You can keep send the permission slip to parents, however it we will never send it twice.  In order to resend locate the student in the ‘View students’ option, and in the Actions menu select “Edit tag options”.  In this dialog you will find an option to “Resend the permission slip to this parent” – check this box and click the ‘Save’ button.  You can now run the “Send to parents” option and a new link will be sent to this parent.  (This is useful where the email address or mobile number was incorrect)

Permission Slip Response processing

  1. Where TYPE=SMS the question is sent via SMS and the parent should respond accordingly to the SMS message they receive
  2. Where TYPE=WEB or PRINT the email or SMS will contain a link to the permission slip content, the parent will be shown each section of the content and prompted for the appropriate response, they then click ‘Next’ or ‘Previous’ to complete each response required
  3. Where TYPE=PRINT the parent is finally prompted to print and sign the form, and return it to the school.
    Printed forms should be collated and stored in a safe place.  The application also needs to know if the signature has been received by the school, and authenticated, and a barcode is included below the signature.
    From the list of permission slips, from the Actions menu select the “Signed forms” option – this will prompt for the barcode to be scanned, or you can simply type in the number and press the <Enter> key if you don’t have a barcode scanner
  4. From the list of permission slips, from the Actions menu select the “Export data” option to download a CSV file of the parent responses.  The “Export data” option will only appear once there are responses available