Setting up a new parent-teacher Conference
To set up a new conference just follow the steps below.
Please remember that parents aren't automatically notified when the conference is created, you do that via your school's usual method of communication. We provide a Template Letter and Parent Guide which you can customise and send out.
If you've been using Meet the Teacher for a while, and your parents are familiar with how it works, you could also use Reminders to alert parents to the fact that they can book on a new conference.
If you want to set up a Student-led conference please follow this article: How to set up a Student-led conference
Add the conference
- Log into your system as an administrator, click conferences in the navigation bar on the left, then Add conference on the right.
- If your school has used the system to run conferences in the past, you'll be asked if you wish to copy the settings from an old conference
Choose No to set up an conference from scratch (then skip to step 3 of this guide).
Choose Yes and you will be presented with a list of existing conferences to choose from, various settings you can choose to copy, and what date(s) to use for the new conference.
- If you set up an conference from scratch, or clicked Customise after copying an existing conference, you will now reach the Add conference page's Basic Details section.
Enter the desired Title and Information. Whatever you enter here will be visible to parents when they log in, and will also form part of all confirmation emails the system sends in connection with the conference.
- In the Dates and Times box, choose the date of the conference.
Once you've selected the date, you can set the times of the conference for that date. The start time is the time that the first possible appointment will begin, the end time is the end of the last possible appointment.
Optionally, you can add other dates for the conference. Where a conference is held over more than one date the system makes sure each parent only books each teacher once per subject and child. All the selected dates show to parents when they go to book.
- Video Appointments lets you hold the Conference over video call via your Meet the Teacher system rather than face-to-face. Tick the box next to Appointments Happen over video call if you wish to use this. Please see this article for further information.
Note: If this tickbox is greyed out please contact email@example.com for details of how to add it to your licence.
- Under Maximum appointments per student per parent, you can restrict the total number of appointments available to parents. This is useful where an conference is for students that are taught a large number of subjects and it would be impossible for their parents to see all of the available teachers in the available time. If you are pre-selecting which teachers are available to parents, this setting can safely be left at No Limit in schools where this is not a problem.
Note that any parent with a record in your system can make an appointment (since appointments are between a parent and a teacher in respect of a student, not between the student and the teacher).
Click here for more detail on this limit.
- Appointments Open to Parents, when set, means that the conference will not be open for booking until that date and time. If you leave it blank, the conference will be bookable as soon as it has been created. If parents log in before bookings are open they will see this date, so that they know when they can start booking.
Appointments Closed to Parents, when set, prevents parents from making any changes to their bookings after that date and time. If you leave it blank, parents will be able to make and amend bookings right up until the conference ends. When parents log in they see this date, if it is in the past.
- Student's Teachers Only allows you to restrict parents to only being able to book those teachers you have pre-selected for them. This is the recommended setting as, if this box is not ticked, parents will see an Add a Teacher option, allowing them to add any teacher present at the conference to their bookings if they wish.
- Appointment Messages allows parents the option to add a message when they make a booking, which both teachers and admins can access. There is an upper limit on this message of 4,000 characters.
- Click Next and you will move to the Students step where you decide who can access the conference. By default, all students are selected but clicking Add Filters allows you to fine tune the students that are involved in the conference - even down to individual students.
These options can be combined in any way you choose. In the example below, we've selected all of Grade 7 plus Joe Bloggs from Grade 8. Click here for more details on setting the student filters.
- Click Next and you will move to the Classes step where you can choose for which classes and groups the people you gave access in the last section can book. Tick the required boxes, then click Next to move on to the Class Teachers section
Class Teachers is where you can adjust the teacher that will take bookings for a class or group selected in the last step. Usually this information will have come from your School Management System, indicated by the word Default next to their name. When a parent logs in to make a booking for their child in respect of a class, this is the teacher whose name they will see listed.
The change button at the end of each row allows you to replace this teacher with any teacher in the system or to assign multiple teachers to take bookings for that class - so that parents can book with one, or all of them, including as a joint booking of all the teachers at the same time - follow this link for full details of How to use the Class Teachers page.
When there is more than one date involved in your evening, you will see a switch at the top of the page that allows you to set those dates up differently from each other. You should do this at this step rather than later, under Teacher Availability.Unsetting the switch allows you to choose the date you want to edit.
- Clicking Next takes you to the Appointment Lengths section. Here you can use the dropdowns to specify the Standard Appointment Length for the conference and - if the conference is being held in person - you can also set Travel Time for Parents which forces a gap between the appointments of a particular parent to allow them to move between appointments if needed.
When a conference is being held by video call you can set the standard Video Call Length, as well as specify if there should be a Gap Between Video Calls (for both teachers and parents). Please see this guide for more detail on how gaps on video conferences work.
Note: Travel time, custom appointment lengths, and teacher breaks (which we will come to in the next step) can only be set as a multiple of this default length.
Note: The default length itself cannot be changed once a booking has been made on the conference in question.
When there is more than one date involved in your conference, you will see a switch that allows you, if unset, to set those dates up differently if wished:By clicking Add Custom Appointment Lengths you can set up different appointment lengths for individual teachers, and for different subjects taught by that teacher.
For example Mrs Abell teaches Science and wants extra time for those appointments. You choose the teacher, then the subject (or vice versa) and the time, then click Save.Any changes will then show on the main page. You repeat this step for each additional change. As Mrs Abell also takes a Special Needs group and wants even longer appointments with them, the end result looks like this:
There is more detail on this process, including on Video Appointments and Gaps, in this article.
Clicking Next takes you to the final part of setting up your conference, Teacher Availability. This is where you can set breaks, absences, and start and end times that differ from those of the conference itself for individual teachers or groups of teachers. Click here for a detailed guide to setting up this section
- When there is more than one date involved in your conference, you will see a switch that allows you to set those dates up differently.
Note: if a teacher is not going to be taking bookings on a particular date, you should set that teacher's class to Disabled - No Bookings under Class Teachers for that date - see step 12 above. Once that has been done the teacher will no longer appear on that date under Teacher Availability.
- Once this section has been completed click Save at the foot of the page.
Your conference is now configured and ready to use. All these sections can be revisited and edited at any time via via Conferences > Go to Conference > Configure Conference (from where you can also delete an existing conference).