Setting up a Hybrid Parent Teacher Conference
Hybrid Conferences give you the option to set up a Parent Teacher Conference where some appointment times can be booked in-person and others by video.
Note: This guide should only be followed if you are setting up an conference which is a mixture of video call & in-person appointments. If all appointments will be either video calls or in-person please see this guide instead.
How does this work?
When setting up your conference you enter the dates and times for the conference, splitting it into blocks of time which you can then specify as taking place via video or in-person. These blocks of time can be on the same day or on different days. When you are adding more than one session on the same date, we recommend that you have video call sessions first, as these cannot overrun and affect any later sessions.
For example: if you have a four hour long parents conference on one date, but would like a two hour block to be video appointments, followed by two hours of in-person appointments, you can set these two differing sessions up on the same date when creating one overall conference. In the same way you can add more than one date to a parents conference and have one date different to the other.
Appointments are made in the usual way, either by parents booking their own appointments online, or admins/teachers booking them on their behalf choosing the preferred options available (see here for more details).
Creating a Hybrid 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 the old conference.Choose No to set up an evening 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. Click Save and you'll see a screen which summarises what you have set up, you can then click Customise to adjust the new conference.Configure the Hybrid 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.Choose Hybrid as the format of the conference. If the hybrid/video options is greyed out (or absent) please contact email@example.com for details of how to add it to your licence.You can then choose if you would like an automatic reminder email sent to parents (and their guest, if they have invited one) & teachers 1 hour before their appointments, the email sent will include links they can use to access their appointments.
Click the box next to Send reminder emails 1 hour before appointments if you want to enable this.
- When there is a gap of more than 90 minutes between appointments we treat these as separate blocks.
- Users won't receive a second reminder until at least 2 hours have passed since their last reminder.
- If a parent has appointments from 3-4pm and then again from 5-6pm, they'd receive a single reminder at 2pm.
- If a parent has appointments from 3-3:30pm and then again from 5-6pm, they'd receive a reminder at 2pm, and again at 4pm.
- If a parent has appointments from 3-4pm and then again from 6-7pm, they'd receive a reminder at 2pm and again at 5pm.
- 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 first block of time on the conference for that date.
For example if you have an conference that is running between 16:00 & 20:00 and the appointments made for the first 2 hours are to be video and the last 2 hours are in-person you would enter the start and end time for the first 2 hours, 16:00 - 18:00.
If all your appointments on the date will be of the same type you can enter the start and end time for the whole conference. The start time is the time the first possible appointment will begin on the specific type, the end time is the end of the last appointment.
Then select if the appointments during this time are in-person or video call.
Click the blue Add Another button to add another session. This can be added for the same date as previously entered (as long as the times do not overlap with an existing session) or can be for a different date
Reminder: When you are adding more than one session on the same date, we recommend that you have video call sessions first, as these cannot overrun and affect any later sessions.
Where an conference contains more than one session/date all of those date(s) and times show to parents when they go to to book. However, the system makes sure each parent can only book each teacher once per class and child within that overall conference.
- 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.
- 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 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 Year 7 plus Joe Bloggs from year 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, disable the class if it should not be an option to book for the specific session or 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.
- Clicking Next takes you to the Appointment Lengths section. There are two separate screens to complete in this section one for In-Person and the other Video Call allowing you to enter different appointment lengths depending on the type.
Under Standard Appointment select from the dropdown the standard appointment length for your in-person appointments for the conference.
Travel Time for Parents allows you to choose from the drop down to force a gap between a Parents' appointments to allow them to move between appointments if needed. These can only be set as a multiple of this default length.
Under Video Call Length select the standard length for your video calls.
Gap Between Video Calls allows you to enter a gap after each video call which applies to both teachers and parents. Please see this guide for more detail on how video evening gaps work.Note: The default length itself cannot be changed once a booking has been made on the conference in question.
Where there is more than one date/session of the same type involved in your conference you will see a switch that you can unselect to set those dates up differently from each other 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.
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.Where there is more than one date/session involved in your conference you will see a switch that you can unselect to set those dates up differently from each other if wished:
Note: if a teacher is not going to be taking bookings on a particular session, you should set that teacher's class to Disabled - No Bookings under Class Teachers for that session - 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 Conference > Go to Conference > Configure Conference (from where you can also delete an existing conference).
Reminder emails are sent 1 hour before the start of each block of appointments
Click here for more detail on this limit. This limit never applies to appointments made by an administrator.
As there will be more than one session involved in your conference, you will see a switch at the top of the page that allows you to set those sessions 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 session you want to edit.