10 December 2012

Music Education Manager's Discussion Day

29th Jan 2013

The day will provide participants with the opportunity to explore two issues which are currently affecting music education; ACE Data Collection and Reporting

Morning Session: Teacher pay types
10 am – 12:30pm

The morning session will be an open discussion session moderated by Paritor. It will aim to discuss the pros and cons of different methods of paying teachers now being considered by music hubs. Delegates will have a chance to discuss and share their current and future methods and investigate if there is a more suitable technique for them.   The results of these discussions will feed into the development process of Paritor Ensemble

Afternoon Session: ACE Data Collection and Reporting

1:30pm – 4pm

The grant agreement with the Arts Council of England stipulates that the annual return consists of information to be collected by all hub lead organisations for the previous academic year.   They have recently published their data reporting requirements for the current year.  Paritor have met with ACE in order to clarify various aspects of the return and look at how Hubs will collect and collate the data. During the afternoon session we will share the results of these discussions and facilitated open discussions on how each Hub will best collect their data.  We will also explain how Ensemble can be used to assist in this process.

Address: The Chateau Impney Hotel, Droitwich Spa, Worcestershire, WR9 0BN

Costs:

  • Full day (include lunch): £55
  • Half day (morning or afternoon session excluding lunch): £30
  • Full day with accommodation (B&B): £135
  • Half day with accommodation(B&B excluding lunch): £115

Places are limited and reserved on a first come, first serve basis. To book a place please call 01395 445092 or email sales@paritor.co.uk.

3 December 2012

Text Message Usage Hits Record Heights


National Music Council Local Authority Music Awards 2012

Each year, the National Music Council (NMC) Local Authority Music Education Awards recognise those authorities that are able to demonstrate imaginative, inclusive and all round high-quality music provision.  The event was held at the Southbank Centre, London on 12th November 2012.

 

Music Education Council: Autumn 2012 Seminar

The autumn seminar was on 22 November in London.  The focus was on the National Plan for Music Education - One Year on, with keynote speaker Alan Davey CEO of Arts Council England. To find out more please visit www.mec.org.uk.





 

New Faces: Robert Sinden


‘Since doing 3 days of work experience at Paritor in October 2006, I have always had a keen interest in software development, and in particular web based applications. Having completed my A-levels I went to the University of Warwick to study Mathematics. After graduating in July 2012, I immediately began full time employment at Paritor where my main role is the development of Paritor Live.’

RobertSinden@paritor.co.uk



 

New Faces; Georgie Stevens


Since leaving college I have worked in Estate Agency. I managed to gain several qualifications and acquired membership of the National Association of Estate Agents. In particular I enjoyed the Customer Service element of my role and so when the customer relations role came up at Paritor I knew it was perfect for me. I’m looking forward to getting to know you all.

Georgie@paritor.co.uk or  call 01395 445092





 

 

 

 

 

Ofsted Inspection Criteria for Music Ed


Ofsted has published the updated subject specific inspection guidance. HMI Mark Philips is urging the revised criteria as a tick list. For more information please visit www.oftsted.gov.uk

 

Ebacc Campaign


We’re supporting ISM’s Ebacc campaign ‘Bacc for the Future’ campaign. The campaign aims to ensure that music education is not undermined by Government proposals to introduce the English Baccalaureate qualification.

Despite the considerable time, energy and funding that has been invested music education by Michael Gove, signalling the importance he places on a quality music education for every child at present music is not included as a core subject of the new English English Baccalaureate. 

To sign the petition please visit www.baccforthefuture.com



 

Music Education Hubs Annual Return 2012—13

The highly anticipated annual return criteria has now been published by the Arts Council for the academic year 2012—13. Paritor will ensure that Ensemble can produce what is needed so that all hub leaders will be able to return a relevant information. This will include meetings with Arts Council and other relevant bodies/people.


 

Paritor run first Essentials Course


Our very first essentials course ran at the beginning of  November and was attended by customers as far away as Argyll and Bute.

These courses are designed to replace onsite training.  Attendees can come down to Devon and leave the hussle and bussle of the office behind to really concentrate on the content without distractions. It also provides an excellent opportunity for networking with people in the same role and find out more about how they operateAs well as of course the ability to learn a specialist subject.

The attendees will become specialists in their areas and if necessary be able to relay the skills back to the rest of the workforce.
Upon completion attendees will gain competency points which will go towards money off their support and maintenance. These will include overview courses as well as specialists courses for the most commonly used areas.  Please let us know if you would be interested in a quote including travel and accommodation.
 
 
 

YOUR opinion is key!

This term we are undertaking our 2012 Customer  Relations Survey. Your opinion is vital to the way we develop in the future because our customers are at heart of what we do. The 2011 survey had an immense impact on the direction that we have taken over the last year, we were able to implement a lot of changes both to the software and to the way Paritor operates ultimately delivering increased value to out customers. With even more customers today it is important that everyone’s voice is heard. That’s why we’re inviting every organisation to take part.



 

PARITOR SPONSOR MUSICAL EXTRAVAGANZA AT KIRKLEES


Thousands of Kirklees school children took centre stage in a musical extravaganza to celebrate the Olympic Games and the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee. The Stadium Spectacular started with an Olympic-style opening ceremony.  A marching band accompanied the children who carried banners and flags designed by the schools. More than 1,000 instrumentalists performed during the event.  The choir, with 4,500 young singers, were seated in the stands and the songs, signed by Music and the Deaf, were projected onto a big screen.
 

 
 
Thom Meredith, Principal, Kirklees Music School said: ”We are very grateful to Paritor for giving so generously to support this event.  We were able to facilitate one of the biggest youth celebrations across the country.  It was approached in the true spirit of partnership with schools, local musicians, sports organisations and KMS coming together to provide an amazing experience for the young people of Kirklees.  With over 5,000 young people involved, this event really rocked the Stadium!”. 

 

28 November 2012

Tomorrow we'll be attending the FMS SW Music Conference

Day 1 of the conference is for Music Services/Hubs and partner organisations.

Date: 29th November 2012

Coffee and registration: 9.30 – 10.00

Welcome & Key Note speech: 10.00 – 10.25

Regional Hub Partner Presentations: 10.30 – 11.45.

Speed Dating: 11.45 – 12.45 Individual tables will be set out around the sides of the room to enable delegates to speak with partners about how they can engage with their hub. This session will be introduced by Malcolm Pollock.

Venue: The conference will be held @ Alexandra House, Swindon SN4 0QJ. Phone 01793 819200 (Programme attached again for information).

Audience: We should have 70 delegates attending. The audience will be a mixture of: Heads of Music Service/Hub Leads from most of the SW, Middle Managers and various partner organisations.

Seating: The room will be set out in Cabaret Style with Hubs located together where possible.

Admin: If you wish to discuss any admin related issues, please contact  Jeanette Ketcher in Swindon: JKetcher@swindon.gov.uk Phone: 01793 864896

Biog: Jeanette is also co-ordinating conference packs, so if there is specific information which you feel should be included, please let Jeanette know ASAP. It would also be good to have your thumb nail biog.

Lunch: As discussed, you will be welcome to join us for lunch.

 

Follow us and we'll donate a £1 to charity


Help to raise £££ for charity this Christmas


In the spirit of Christmas and goodwill we’re aiming to raise money for Music as Therapy.
For every new follower (between 1st – 31st Dec 2012) of ParitorMusic on twitter (www.twitter.com/paritormusic ) or like on the ParitorMusic facebook page (www.facebook.com/paritormusic) we’ll give our honorary charity Music as Therapy a £1.

 How you can help

So all you need to do is to tell your teachers, parents and students to get ‘liking and following’ AND what’s more in order to help you spread the word we’ll give you as many free text messages as you’d like to use promoting the campaign. The only specification is that it needs to say #ParitorXmas somewhere in the message.

What are you waiting for? Get texting all those parents, teachers and students and help raise money for another fantastic Music as Therapy Project. If you need help using those text messages send us an email or give us a call and we’ll talk you through it.

5 November 2012

NAME's Annual Conference

Early October we attend NAME's Annual Conference. What a great event! Plenty of time for networking with old friends and meeting new ones. Some very informative talks on the merger and debates on the key issues affecting music education today . 'Crossing frontiers' was certainly a fitting name.

Software Developments

Now when you get an update you can check the change log and find out exactly what has changed within the system. As you are all probably aware, in order to get an update you will need to restart the software. The version number is shown at the top of the screen which you can then check on the change log. To access the change log simply go to 'Help>About'.

MEC Autumn Seminar Implementing the National Plan - One year on

When: 22 Nov 2012

For more info:http://www.name.org.uk/ conferences/name-national-conference-2012


The discussion will explore the issues, hurdles and solutions to implementing the National Plan for Music Education. With a fantastic line up of speakers including Alan Davey, Chief Executive of the Arts Council England and Mark Phillips, Ofsted - the day is set to be a great success!

Looking forward to seeing you there!

Live (Sneak Preview)

This academic year marks the start of a new chapter for Paritor. As most of you are aware Jan 2013 marks the launch of Live.
BUT we're far too excited to wait until then to show our customers so we're letting you have a sneak preview this term. If you would be interested in having a demo please let us know. You can either email me,  jodie@paritor.co.uk or call us on 01395 445092.
 
 

Paritor Customer Relations Survey

This half term we are going to be undertaking our 2012 Customer Relations Survey. Paritor's future is based solely around building and maintaining our relationships with customers, predominantly through the service that we deliver and the products we offer. Our customers are at the heart of what we do. Back in 2011, when completed our last Customer Relations Survey, the result of which meant that we were able to implement a lot of changes from the suggestions we received. It also helped us to establish a direction for the future. 

As valued customers we want YOUR feedback to help us to establish a direction for the future, and that's why we will be inviting every organisation to take part. The survey will be done over the phone and should not take any longer than 15mins.

2 October 2012

New Documents

Due to popular request from prospective clients we have developed a draft business case and implementation plan that can assist you with the purchase of Ensemble.

These documents will help you to put your case forward and the implementation plan will assist in the transition from your old system to Ensemble. If you would like a copy of either of these documents please dont hesistate to get in contact.     

LIVE sneak preview

LIVE is the newest addition to our software portfolio which is due to be officially launched in Jan 2013. Those of you who are attending the NAME 2012 Conference at the end of the week will get to see a sneak peak at the software. So dont forget to visit us in the trade area.

Our Ever Increasing Group of Customers

In September Lancashire, Cheshire East, Newham, Barnet and Milton Keynes Music Hubs decided to use Ensemble. We're very much looking forward to working with them!

Paritor Teams Up With ILM

Last month we told you about the new courses that we would be running. This month we're not only going to be running those courses but also we're teaming up with ILM to provide Music Hub Managers and Office Staff accredited qualifications.

These qualification will help you to run more efficiently but also it will provide staff with real qualifications that they can apply to any office/management environment. Watch this space!

5 September 2012

Hints & Help – Internal Communications

In this day and age it is extremely important to be able to provide your customers and followers with information quickly. Mobile phones have become ubiquitous, and the increase in social media has meant it is now much easier to reach your target audience. With this is mind today’s Hints & Help covers the manner in which communication technology is integrated into the Paritor system.

SMS

With most children and parents having access to mobile phone technology, we felt it prudent to include an SMS service within the program. This service allows you to send text messages to individual phones or to multiple numbers should you wish to do so.

To access the SMS sending screen, click Tools on the ribbon menu.

Blog text buttons

Fig 1. The ribbon menu with Send Text Message button highlighted

Clicking the SMS button yields this screen. Completing the Tel Number field adds this number to the list you are sending the messages to. Once the first number is in, populate the text box on the right hand side with your message. The program gives you a word count in the bottom right hand corner.

Blog SMS screen

Fig 2. The send the SMS screen

Once your message is complete, click Send SMS, which will send the message to the recipients in the list. Of course, text messages are not unlimited; to purchase more, there is a service within the program.

SMS Log

Fig 3. The SMS Log screen with purchase button.

From this screen you can buy more texts, but the principal function of this screen is to act as the SMS Log, which catalogues all the text messages that are sent through the system. The group, filter and date drop down menus allow you to sift through the texts more efficiently, as the potential number of texts sent through a hub can be very large. When you click the purchase texts button you will see the following screen.

Blog 3 Text Purchase

Fig 4. The text message purchase screen.

From here you can purchase more text messages and view the Log. The Log keeps track of all the texts that are sent out through your system, their dates and times. This is especially useful if you use the SMS service to remind teachers and parents of dates in their calendar.

Paritor also has an internal email service which has been covered in a previous blog, which can be found here.

Both these services allow you, the music service, further opportunities to connect with and inform your staff and pupils; the idea being that you’ll be able to use Paritor’s software as a one stop shop for administration. Keeping emails and the all-important SMS service within the program means fewer programs being open and higher productivity, a boon at this time of year!

4 September 2012

CPD for Managment and Admin Staff of Music Hubs

This academic year marks the start of a new chapter for Paritor. It is the first year we will be running a range of CPD courses specifically for the management and back office of music hubs. The courses will include:

  • Administration
  • Timetabling
  • Pupil Management
  • Resource Management
  • Invoicing and Debtors
  • Data Management
  • Communications
  • Report Writer

This side of CPD has, for a long time been overlooked. But the office environment is as real for the performing arts as elsewhere and now is a good time to brush up on skills. The rapid changes require a skilled, knowledgeable workforce with employees who are adaptable, flexible and focused on the future.

You will recieved a course brochure in the next couple of weeks. Or, if you can't wait that long give us a call on 01395 445092 to find out more.

This term we'll be attending ....

NAME CONFERENCE 2012: THE ANNUAL EVENT FOR ALL MUSIC EDUCATORS

When: 5th-6th Oct 2012
Where: Yarnfield Park Conference Centre, Stone, Staffordshire.

For more info visit:
www.name.org.uk

Come and see us in the exhibitor area, we are always happy to see your friendly faces!

Welcome Back!

This year is set to be a new chapter in the world of music education. Music has carefully carved its place in today's education and will remain an integral part of our treasured culture.

Despite this, funding will decrease. It is important therefore, that this is not felt by the current worldclass quality of music education. The National Plan sets out that only a minimal amout of funding can be spent on the back office. Here, at Paritor we know that it is entirely possibble to reduce costs but it is necessary to have fully trained staff, with access to good equipment and information.

17 August 2012

Hints & Help: Data Importing

This weeks' blog covers the subject of data import. With pupils, parents, lessons, instruments, receipts  schools, teachers and so on, there is an inordinate amount of data to put into the programs. Today, we will examine approaches to data import and the contexts in which they can be used.

The processes in question are as follows:
  • Import Data
  • Import Tuition Batch
Import Data is designed principally to handle large amounts of general data, and Import Tuition Batch is purpose built for the import and allocation of pupils. There are some key differences between these import methods, which we'll examine in more detail, but firstly it is important to know how we get to the data importing stage.

How Do I Get Started?
The first thing to do is to create a template for what you're about to import. Luckily, this is a quick and painless process.
  •  Firstly-ribbon menu Tools -> Housekeeping -> Import Data -> then select the field you wish to import. Click ‘next’ followed by Create Template, which will create the right kind of spreadsheet.
  • Within the spreadsheet there are a number of bold columns-these are required fields and must be filled in. Populate the fields with whatever information you have outside of the pre-requisites.
  • Save and close the document, and on the next screen of the Import Data process locate the spreadsheet you have just created. Clicking next allows the software to validate the data, and upon completion of this task press Next and your data selection will import into the system.















Fig 1. The Tools Tab, Housekeeping and subsequent drop-down menu.

Import Tuition Batch

Open the spreadsheet you’re using for the information. Only 3 headings are required for this method of data import.
  • UPID
  • First Name
  • Last Name
Save the spreadsheet with these headings only, from column C onwards. Make sure you only put in the data and no extra text headings in the spreadsheet fields, ie if it says UPID in the heading you don’t need to put it in the main body of the page as well:



Fig 2. Example spreadsheet 

Saving
The next step is to save the spreadsheet properly. The system will only recognise one type of file for this process, an Excel 97-2003 spreadseet/workbook(it’s named different things on some systems). Check this is a .xls document and save it, then close.
Importing
Click Pupils on the ribbon menu, on the far left click Import Tuition Batch. Click Open and search for the required file. Once you open it it should open in the aforementioned screen. Highlight the pupils you wish to move by clicking on the far left edge of the screen and dragging it down.

Once you’ve done this, click Import Pupils.









Fig 3. The Import Pupils/Create Tuition buttons.

















Fig 4. The selection screen with the pupils highlighted.

Once you have selected those Pupils, click Create Tuition. You will then be presented with this screen:
















Fig 5. The process screen.

From within this screen you can choose the School, Year, Activity plan etc. Once the criteria are all satisfactory, click the Start Process button at the top left and the system will populate the required fields with the selected information.

Import Data

One of the largest amounts of data you will have to input into the system is instrument details. Within Ensemble and its associated programs it is possible to import the details of the instruments and their serial numbers, which makes keeping track of your hires significantly easier. In order to bring the instruments into the system, you first need to create a template. The template is effectively an Excel spreadsheet pre-populated with the headings required for the system to recognise  the data instantly and attribute it to the correct areas. For example, the template created for the instrument serial numbers automatically contains the headings InstrumentSerialNumber, InstrumentType and InstrumentLocation.




Fig 6. An example of the Instrument Import Data template.

Both the Import Data and Import Tuition Batch are essential tools in compiling appropriate and useful information into the database. We hope that this week's blog has been of use to you, especially with the new term coming up!

8 August 2012

Hints & Help: How To Write A Support Ticket

We are often asked the best way to write a support ticket-how to lay it out, get the right information across quickly, and how to reduce the amount of time spent waiting for results. The most effective way to deal with these scenarios is to compose your ticket properly, as doing so will allow the support team to see the issue and its potential solutions. In this blog post we’ll cover the most effective way of setting out your ticket, including attachments, using screen shots and using the Help Guide.
Blog 1 New Ticket Button
Fig 1. The Help tab, Support Ticket button and New Ticket button

Upon discovery of an issue that requires support, the first thing to do is set up a new ticket. Paritor features an integral fault reporting system, the Support Tickets. These tickets come straight through to first line support in our office. You can add screenshots and files to them, but more on that later. To access the Support Tickets click the Help tab at the top right of the upper menu(the ‘Ribbon Menu’). This will display the above picture. Click on Support Tickets to raise the Support Ticket Manager, where you can see tickets you’ve sent and their progress. In the upper menu click New Ticket to raise a new issue to the support team. Pressing New Ticket will yield this screen:
Blog 1 Support Ticket Basic
Fig 2. An empty example support ticket

The ‘Raised By’ field will be populated by the name of the individual who raised the ticket. Email will also self-populate. The Priority Fields are designated as follows:
  • Low: Problems which do not affect the operation of the software.
  • Medium: Problems that affect the way the service functions, causing the software not to function as specified but does not prevent the software from being used.
  • High: Critical problems that prevent the use of the software under normal operating conditions.
Accurately setting the Priority Fields lets the support team attend to your concerns within the correct timeframe.
On the Support Ticket screen you will see a box marked Feature Request. Ticking this box marks this support ticket as a suggestion; Feature Requests are the elements that you would like to see featured in the program. If there is something that you need access to all the time that is not catered for within the existing framework, this is your suggestion box. It is worth noting that some requests may not be possible to include, may exist within the program already in another form or are currently available but undiscovered. Should you submit a request that is currently catered for we will inform you the best way to reach it.

Attachments

One of the most important parts of a Support Ticket is the Screenshot. These used to be very complicated involving Paint, Word documents and so on, so we’ve included a function called Insert Image. This allows you to capture the Screenshot from the Support Ticket without having to engage an external program. When you type in the main body of the ticket, the upper menu will change to this view:
Blog 1 Insert Image New
Fig 3. Insert Image button.

When you click Insert Image, this allows the Screen Rectangle Capture button to emerge. Clicking this button allows you to drag a rectangle across the part of the screen you wish to capture and cut it out into your ticket.
 Blog 1 Capture and Close
Fig 4. Screen Rectangle Capture button.

Once you are satisfied with the image(as you may take as many as you like), click Save and Close to place the capture within the ticket as seen below:

Blog 1 Captured Image in email
Fig 5. A Support Ticket with the Screen Capture inside

Having the Screenshot included in the ticket allows the support team to deal with your query much more efficiently. A great deal of the systems work incorporates tables and process screens, and being able to see a specific and troublesome part of your query can help us understand the root of the issue swiftly. The Support Ticket also contains a button marked Add Attachments. This button allows you to add other files to your ticket, such as .rptx custom report files which are a common part of the system.

Content

The most important part of any ticket is Content. The way in which you describe your query dictates how quickly we can assist you. The most helpful way to lay out a ticket is as follows:
  • Statement of concern-‘I can’t get my invoices to print’
  • Method of arrival-‘I went through these steps to get here’
  • Effects-‘I can’t do this now either’
  • Timescale-‘I’ve got to get these off today-can you take a look at it now?’
Laying your ticket out in this method allows us to see exactly what has taken place and how you arrived at the issue. Your issue can be linked to a number of factors, such as incorrect data entry, incorrect procedure, a lack of training or unreleased software updates. Always include a Screenshot where possible.
The Ensemble, Lite and Academy systems have been designed to operate in a specific way, and trying to work around certain issues can make difficulties appear more regularly than they otherwise would. If you are uncertain how to approach something, consult the Help Guide.

The Help Guide

At the top right hand corner of your program is the Help Guide Button. This activates the systems’ internal help service-the chief function of which is to allow you to get as much out of the program as possible. As the system has been designed to be intuitive, use of the Help Guide will allow you to navigate much more efficiently through the system itself, increasing your productivity. This means less time spent on support and more time spent on progressing through the work you need to do.
Blog 1 Help Button Ensemble
 Fig 6. The Help Guide activation button.

You can also access the Help Guide through the Help Tab.
Blog 1 Help Tab
Fig 7. The Help Tab and Display Help button.

Through either means, when you click the ‘?’ button the following screen will display itself:
Blog 1 Help Guide Front Page
Fig 9. The Ensemble Help Guide front page.

This is the front screen of the Help Guide. The guide contains information on the processes contained within the program. Typing key words into the search bar at the top left corner will bring up a number of related headings in link form:
Blog 1 Help Results Blue
Fig 10. Search bar and resultant information.

Clicking the links will display their information like this:
Blog 1 Help Guide Actual Info
Fig 11. Clicking the links inside the Help Guide will give you results like these.

At the top of these pages are three buttons marked Up, Previous and Next. Up takes you back to your search results. Previous and Next guide you through the topics available. The Help Guide entries are in procedural order by heading, so an entry on billing will take you through the processes required over multiple screens.

Hopefully you have found this blog of use-if you feel there are key issues needing to be addressed, or there is a part that you feel should have been included, please contact us through the Support Tickets (which should now be no trouble at all!).