REACH Boarding attended the recent Australian Boarding Schools Association Forum for new Directors of Boarding in Brisbane where Steven Montgomery presented REACH Boarding School Software to delegates. Below you can see this video of this presentation as well as our podcast.

Australian Boarding School Conference – Brisbane from Touchline on Vimeo.


Hi, my name is Steven and welcome to REACH Boarding School Software.

REACH Boarding School Software was developed in Australia in collaboration with five pilot schools across 4 states. REACH covers your daily student management for all boarding staff. It assists your college business manager or bursarr in budgetary requirements and it also covers the risk management principals set out by most headmasters that we have spoken with.

Today I’m going to take you through the modules that make up REACH and you see for yourself how the system works.

At it’s core REACH is always concerned about WHO, WHERE and WHEN.  That is Who are the students with, Where are they now and When are they returning.

Let’s have a look at the system. On the home dashboard, or as we refer to it our Metrics View we have got a chart showing location by student with an on campus and off campus locator.  We also have a meals widget which will predict your meal count for the next seven days. On the right hand side of the screen, you’ll see I’ve got two coloured tabs, one is approved and the other is pending. This alerts me to the status of leave requests in the Running Leave Log. Below that will see the Boarder List with icon tags beside their names to let me know if any pastoral incidences have been recorded about my students.

At the top of the screen we have the Main Menu bar with access to leave, attendance, pastoral care and behaviour, our reports and system administration.  Above that in the header section you will also see the user menu where we have My Account, to amend and adjust your details, the Notifications panel, the Emergency Button and an ability to log out.

Where you see the camera symbol you will know that there is a help video to assist you further.

Another one of the dashboard views is the Student Movements screen. We call this the Airport View.  It shows the expected student movements over the next 24 hours with their current departure or arrival status.  The student’s name will colour (for example green) to let me know this student is due to leave boarding within 10 minutes.  It will display Red when the student is late returning to campus.

The final dashboard is the Student Locator screen which we call Kiosk mode. The Kiosk view is where you go to sign students in and out of your boarding house. Hovering your cursor over the student you will display their current location and provide a scheduled return time for any students that are not currently in the boarding house. You can add photographs to the student profiles in this screen. By selecting a students you can then move that student to a different location.  You can set as many locations as you wish to track and when you sign a student to a particular location the border colour for their image will change to show at which location the student is at.

Let’s now take a look at our system configuration remembering that REACH can be configured to suit your boarding school.  The field names that we use in this presentation can be changed to suit your school.

Firstly we will look at the management of system users. We can amend and change the data for all users including staff, boarders, parents and hosts.  With a single click we can reset a password and send the email to that user.  If you wish to change your groups or you have an excursion or a year group definition changes you can do this within the admin management menu. Virtually everything can be configured by you to suit your boarding school.

Let’s have a look in-depth into some system configurations.  In the system configuration section you can change create your leave types. With each leave type you are able to set individual protocols. For example who can approve the leave, who gets notified, even in what sequence they get notified. Also whether or not you wish the student to fill in more details in the notes section before the leave can be requested.

Some of our new features in the leave configuration section are that REACH can restrict access to a leave type by year groups. So for example, if your 12 students are permitted to leave Monday through Friday to a certain location but no other students can do so, this can be easily configured within REACH.

The leave type setting include who can approve, in what order they need to approve, who gets notified and how they get notified (ie: email, SMS or pushed directly to the mobile app). Is there anyone else that needs to be informed?

Apart from leave you can also configure your leave transport types. That is what transport type is being used for leave departure and what transport type for returning leave? Once you have set your leave types and transport types and transport types then these selections appear as a drop down selection in the leave request form.

TO divert for just a moment, see this red pop-up alert in the bottom right of the screen? This is an automatic alert to advise that there is a student that are late to depart or late to return. Clicking on that pop-up takes you directly to the airport view where you can look at the individual student and their details.

Let’s return back to system configuration. In your kitchen meals widget you can configure your meals by name and by type and time. When a student is out on leave over that period of time, your meal count will be reduced by one. Let’s create a meal as an example. Let’s call it Brunch and give it a time when it occurs on the 24-hour-clock. Once we’ve given it the time we can then select which day of the week and give it a reference colour.

Note that our alert at the bottom of the screen is still flashing. This is because no action has been taken. The reminder will constantly appear until it has been actioned.

Okay, back to meals. I’m going to select the reference colour and then I’m going to select which day, or days of the week that brunch is going to take place. Let’s have it on Saturday and Sunday.

Let’s look at locations. You can set as many locations as you wish. You can have locations which are either on-campus and off campus. Your locations can even have a default leave type associated to it and also a default time that leave to that location is permitted for.

For example, if a student comes up to the kiosk view and wants you to sign them out to a location they will automatically get 45 minutes in the library. You can also add PIN identification for leave approval if required.

Your term dates and your pastoral incidents are also configured by you to represent your college and the terminology you use.  The contact flags and look-up elements are quite complicated and they help to configure some of the more complex variations for approvals and tracking. These are best set up in consultation with our support team.

Let’s now take a look at leave. Just remember in this review we are looking at leave from the administrator or staff dashboard.

So is we select the Leave menu we get the leave screen showing what leave events we have in the system at present. The status column will show if they are pending, approved or rejected. You can select any one of these leave events and it will display the full record on the screen. If I were to create a leave request as a boarder or parent, the first thing you will see on the top line is the user name. This is hard coded into the form and the user can only create requests for themselves (if they are a student) or students that they are associated with (for parents).  Select the leave type from the drop down, these are the leave types that are created by you, the user, in the administration section. It is the same for the leave transport types.

Within the REACH leave request form, only information that has already been pre-approved by the parent through their parent portal can be entered into the system. At no time except for the description and notes can a student add anything adhoc into the REACH leave system.  At the bottom of the request form a staff member can adjust the status, setting it to pending, approved or rejected.

Let’s now look at Attendance. The attendance module on REACH is a very simple process. Simply click and select. Change a present or absent status with a click on the icon. Click once is the student is present, click twice to set the student as absent. Stdents on pre-approved leave will be automatically identified for you in the attendance form. When you have completed the attendance report simply select save and that roll-call is now recorded and saved. The details can be reported and the individual history will be applied to each student’s personal record.

Now we also understand that some schools using REACH in the UK and Asia need to have a time recorded to represent when that attendance record was taken. So in this field we might put our time as Lunch. If I begin to take the attendance as I walk around the dining room, marking my students present or absent, then that time will follow me through in every record that I take on this attendance until I save it. You can see as I hover over the event go over to the latest record it has a time recorded as lunch whereas the previous attendance I did not enter a time so there is no record in this field.

Let’s now look at our pastoral care and behavior.  I have worked in education for over 14 years and pastoral care is one of the aspects within the REACH which I am extremely proud of.

You can select any student and select any incident type, configured by you the user in your system configuration. If there were a large number of students associated with any incident then we can also select and add them to this incident record. You can then enter the details of the incident in the details section. These details will stay in one central location on the boarder summary for those students selected for the incident being recorded. If you need to make a staff member aware of the incident you can  select that staff member to be notified. The information will then be sent on internal email and SMS to that staff member. This same process can also be achieved to inform a parent.  You can see on my mobile device that this is how the SMS will come through, whether it’s for an incident record or leave request.

Let’s now go on and have a look at creating our reports which we get to by selecting  reports from the main menu. You can see here on this example I have already preloaded for leave that I can amend and change the date at any stage, even with the report on screen view. Instead of looking at all the leave types I can also concentrate on just one in particular or multiple of the leave types that I have configured within the system. I can also look at leave by year group. I’m going to hit create report.

When I create the report, I’ve got live data from that report configuration. The data is easily presented on screen so that you the user can simply understand or you can send it on for other staff to access.

Our recurring reports are currently in production and these will be preset reports that run automatically. For example a leave report that might run at the end of every week will be able to be set for automatic processing and distribution.

The next aspect of REACH is the audit log or audit trail. This aspect of REACH is particularly important. It is the ultimate filing cabinet which records every single event that occurs on REACH.  You can easily find historic transactions simply by searching per module or you can search by the contents of that incident. On screen in REACH we display the last 200 records however you can search for any event that is not on screen and the Audit log will provide full details of the transaction.

This event for example is a leave transaction. By selecting this item REACH takes me directly to that leave event. I am able to go back and review exactly what took place. Imagine if you needed to search for an event that happened 12 months ago, the REACH audit log will find it in a matter of seconds and provide you with full time, date and user stamps for the event.  If it was a medical report for example, you can immediately see the record, who actioned it, what time and date and full details of what is contained in that medical report. The audit log is not only the ultimate filing cabinet, it is also the final element which makes REACH the ultimate risk management tool for a school.

Now that we have looked at all of the modules let’s head back to the home dashboard and look at the user menu in the top right hand side.

MY Account allows each user to amend details without having to navigate through administration. Once you hit save, the amended details will be saved and updated in the admin portal. This is invaluable for parents and boarders.

The Notifications tab is an alert button which lets you know if you have any unattended notifications such as leave requests.  It also allows administrators to create and send notices users either internally (in REACH only), via SMS, email or by push notification to those that have the helper mobile app.

When you send a notification, you can select how it is to be sent, you can set a priority level and then simply enter a message. Your send selections will determine how many characters you can use within that message because SMS messages are character limited.  Once you hit save REACH will let you know which users data has been sent to.

Let’s look at the Emergency tab. This is an important and valuable button designed to assist in times of emergency. When the emergency button is actioned by a staff member then for an incident such as a fire on campus then all staff members will receive an alert and all staff members who use the system can go directly to attendance where all students currently on campus will be identified. This attendance can be taken with the students at the master point within your school.

Finally, no web portal or software is complete without an up to date help and support panel. Here on REACH, we have our support panel.  When you arrive on this, you’ll see there is topic headings and articles. Each article has either screen clips and explanations or videos to assist the user. By simply selecting an article heading, you will get a description and a screenshot. If however this is still not enough, you can go to other article types. When you select, you will see that this one for a leave approval which has screen shots and video. You can also search by any term, once you do this on our help portal, it will automatically select all articles with that term, our terminology in it.

If this still doesn’t prove helpful to you, we have a public post where you can add questions and answers, we have email and live chat and we also have direct line contact to our office.

Within REACH, our nine core modules that we have looked up today are available to all users out of the box under subscription. Pricing depends on the number of students within your boarding school.

All ABSA members are entitled to a free private demo portal. This allows you to install some live data for your school which is secure and not accessible by any other demo users.  You can then test REACH with a small live population such as a year group.