I went up to the school this morning to register for my 6th form courses, and was shown just how out-of-date things are.
I was given three sheets of paper - one containing my option choices, and how they related to the blocks available. The second had my timetable, which was for me to keep. The third was a yellow form, on which I was to fill out my option choices, my GCSE results, my personal details, and my timetable.
They already have my GCSE results on a separate slip in school, they have my timetable on file as they have given me a printed copy, they have my option choices as they gave those to me, and they have my details on their computer as we have to give them in every so often.
So this yellow form was completely pointless. We had to tell them what they already knew, because they couldn't be bothered to get software to pull in the data from the various sources. Or was it because their data was in multiple formats? That is probably where the problem lies. They would make life far much easier for themselves by storing all their data in a central XML database and using forms applications (or InfoPath forms) to manae it - and then having a set of applications to deal with all the data.
We then had to sign our names next to our subjects on a wall - once we had managed to find the subjects (which had been handwritten on A1 flipchart sheets - so "Maths: Pure and Further Pure" was down as "Double Maths", as *almost* everyone doing it is doing double maths. If they had just used a DTP app linked to their option or timetable database, they could have had these automatically printed, with the right subject names. And they could have just had name lists preprinted (as it is quite a challenge to write legibly on a wall) and we could have "ticked" the boxes to confirm our choices.
I realise that we had to have the forms to confirm (yet again) that we aren't changing our options - but they could have left space on a preprinted form for that kind of thing.
The main problem here seems to be money - it would cost money to hire a programmer to design a suite of software apps and an XML database, and it would be too much effort to create an in-house solution (like they did with the electronic reporting)
Ah well. Maybe I'll be able to offer them a discount when I've acquired enough skills to take on the challenge.