We are often asked by Directors of Sport what a sensible sports communication model looks like. They are also keen to understand how other schools that use SOCS have approached the initial roll out and the day to day management of SOCS sport.
Working with hundreds of schools across the UK, South Africa, Dubai, China, Malaysia and Australia we have seen a variety of “Roll Out” models adopted and many different administrative structures implemented. Whilst every school is of course unique and faces their own idiosyncratic challenges, there are common themes and best practices that work well across the board. We have included links to the relevant help pages below.
Choose a Domain Name for your sports website
The most important first step. Find more here >>>
SOCS Sport: The Initial "Pre-Term" Set Up
1. Each member of the sports department has their own SOCS Login created.
2. The school creates a map point for every sports location they utilise. Most schools create a separate map point for every pitch.
3. The head of each sport is responsible for the initial upload of block fixtures into SOCS sport. SOCS has been designed to make the creation of block and single fixtures simple.
4. The Fixture Request function can then be used to communicate to all schools on the network to plug any gaps within your fixture list. It can also be used to strengthen "growing" sports within the school. SOCS also allows you to research the relative strength of each school to ensure you find an opponent of a similar level.
5. This data is then downloaded into the school's existing online website using iCalendar or XML. It can also be downloaded in a variety of ways and used to publish to the school's printed calendar. This ensures you only ever need to upload the information once. In this way the system removes the need for the school calendar team to manage sports fixtures. The entire sports programme can then be iCalendar Synchronised into the personal calendars of every member of staff at the press of a button. This information is live and updates automatically when a change is made in SOCS sport.
6. Schools often plug the Today's Teams link from their sports website into the staff intranet and Parent Portal. Today's Teams can be filtered by sport, house and form at the click of a button and the system quickly identifies any possible clashes.
7. The pupil information can be synchronised into SOCS sport if the schools uses iSAMS, or if it is sent to us before the start of term if the school uses SIMS, PASS, Schoolbase or Facility.
8. Before the start of term Schools send out our "First Time User Guide" to parents, players and staff. This lets them know how to get the most out of the service and explains how to synchronise their personal calendars to the team’s fixtures lists they follow, and how to download the Mobile Web App.
SOCS Sport: Running the System during Term Time
9. Each coach is responsible for selecting his or her team 48 hours before kick-off using Team Sheet Builder. Team Sheet Builder alerts coaches to any potential clashes so that no pupil is selected for more than one team. Teams are not always published to the sports website at this stage.
10. 24 hours before kick-off the relevant Head of Sport uses Multi Team Sheet Editor to check and "finesse" each team. Multi Team Sheet Editor allows the coach to pull up all of his or her teams on one page and then drag and drop any last minute changes. Multi Team Sheet Editor can also be used to assign each fixture to the correct pitch. This then drives the pitch location function in the app and on the sports website allowing parents to find the correct pitch as they arrive at the school. Team sheets are then published.
11. When published, Teams instantly become available on the sports website, the Web App, the synchronised personal calendar of parents and the digital Big Screens around the school. Some schools have a Big Screen in multiple locations around the school (many have one in each House). (Teams can be easily printed off and pinned on the notice board for schools that are not yet paperless)
12. Many schools also use the built in Twitter function to Tweet the fixture details to the school's social media community. Tweets are “auto written” by our system for ease.
13. You can also “Plug In” your twitter feed to the front page of your sports website to draw parents attention to it. This ensure that the Parents who don't use twitter can also access the feed. It also allows you to post information and photos to the homepage of your sports website from your smartphone. you need to customise your SOCS sport website to do this.
14. As the final whistle blows, coaches can use SOCS Mobile + Live Scores on their Smartphones or Tablets to update the result. If not busy coaching or refereeing coaches can use the Live Score feature to keep parents who could not make the game informed of what's happening.
15. Results are then streamed directly onto the school's “Big Screens”, onto their Sports Websites and the Mobile Apps. Many schools have a Big Screen present at the post match tea which can be used to instantly see how the schools Away teams have performed. It’s a great talking point and shows off how much sport is taking place on any given Saturday at the school.
16. Coaches can upload photos, video, match reports and team analysis onto SOCS post-match. These are made available on the sports website when published. The best place to do this is from the Sports Programme.
17. The system alerts the Director of Sport to any missing results when he or she logs in. This make the post Saturday "Tidy Up" easy!
18. The Director of Sport can download a weekly results summary to hand to the HM for Monday morning assembly. Every report in SOCS sport can be exported to Word, and most can also be exported to Excel.
The End of Term
19. At the end of each term the Director Of Sport can download the participation record for every pupil at the school for ease of reporting.
20.The playing statistics for each team are also easily available and downloadable for newsletters or the school magazine.
21. The “On Tour” module allows you to keep parents informed of any touring teams progress. It includes a Blog which you can use to share photos and match reports from the tour.
Within this model the role of the Director of Sport is to monitor the Sports Programme to ensure that the information is present and correct. The Sports Programme alerts the Director of Sport to any information gaps at a glance. You can bring up the weekly sports or training programme or you can combine the two.
It’s also extremely usefully for the Director of Sport to use the live participation reports to ensure that every pupil has had a chance to represent the school.
The appointment of a Sports Administrator is becoming common practice but by and large schools do not utilise this person as their primary “Data Uploader”. The sports administrators role focuses instead on ensuring that the system is up to date, and chasing the relevant Masters In Charge to upload their team sheets or results when it’s not! They are often responsible for managing the reports that the system creates automatically.
More and more schools are creating a Login for Pupils whose role is to write match reports and publish them to the sports website. These Logins can be restricted to a singular sport for security. Given that most school sports websites receive in excess of 400,000 page views a year (some receive millions) this is a great addition to a UCAS form application.
A growing number of Schools are password protecting team sheets (using the optional Security Module) whilst leaving the rest of the website open and available to the parents and prospective parents. This means that schools can secure their pupil information whilst not missing out on the fantastic marketing platform your sports website provides. Team Sheet Builder - Security Module
Crucially, the schools we work with have almost exclusively moved away from what is best described as the Push Model of sports communication. Emailing and texting are examples of “push models” that by and large have failed or have become extremely cumbersome to maintain at the schools we spoke to. SOCS has helped these schools move away from this model of "pushing" out information regarding changes to kick off times, team sheets and fixture cancellations. The weakness within this system is that the actors within it sit back and expect to be told what is happening. The problem here is that on any given Saturday you may have as many as 500 pupils, 1000 parents and 50 staff involved in a block fixture and pushing out 1550 pieces of data and expecting it to be read and digested by each recipient is unlikely.
School's have instead adopted the Pull Model of sports communication and SOCS sport has been built specifically to help your school adopt this model. SOCS sport encourages the players, parents and staff to become “active participants” in the system by asking them to check the website, app or their personal calendar before travelling to ensure the fixture has not been updated. This not only keeps them informed but drives traffic to your school website. Rather than worry about pushing out information, the sports departments' role is to keep the sports website up to date, thus ensuring that the information is always available to parents. We provide you with all the literature you need to send to the school community at the start of term to alert them to the website and how to get the most out of it.
It’s also important to note that none of the schools we spoke to using the system see it as an extra overhead for their sports department to manage. If that were the case an extremely busy sports department would not have the time to “keep the website up to date”. SOCS Sport becomes the system they use to perform their normal day to day roles, and the consequence of that is an “up to the minute accurate” communication system. In short, SOCS sport saves you time AND keeps parents informed. We feel that this is the single most influential reason why we have seen such growth over the last 18 months.