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Articles > Building Your Community > Three inspiring talks at ToucanTech festive networking event

Three inspiring talks at ToucanTech festive networking event

A huge thank you to all the Alumni and Development professionals who made the trip to Impact Hub Kings Cross in London on Thursday evening for ToucanTech’s festive night of networking, discussion and wine. Lots of wine. We thoroughly enjoyed meeting everyone and swapping stories. We had three topics to cover at the event: GDPR, school rankings and exciting new product features for ToucanTech.



In the first of three scintillating mini-talks, Kate Grimley Evans answered some burning questions from schools about GDPR. Firstly, what is it about? Kate explained that GDPR has come about due to data protection being a sidelined issue before in EU legislation. The consequence for schools is that with GDPR they have a greater level of accountability for their data and must show they have the correct systems in place when it comes to consent.


Cranleigh School asked if there is a case for legitimate interest in consent, such as an alumni magazine. Kate stated that for now you can continue to send material to alumni who haven’t opted-out. But if you can use consent, then do. It has to be informed consent, which means you need to tell somebody what you intend do with their data.

When Bishops Diocesan College rightly asked if this is stricter for digital correspondence, Kate said sending digital material is much safer with consent as people are becoming more aware of their data rights. As a school, you need robust answers when people ask what data you have on them. If you don’t, it could affect the schools reputation!

Another excellent question from St James Independent Schools asked what happens with consent in the instance of a school merger. Kate explained that consent does carry over if purposes are the same.

But while the situation with GDPR and the future of data protection law in the UK is not clear (*cough* Brexit *cough*), Kate advised that the sensible thing to do is to gather opt-in consents from alumni and make sure it is clear in the small print of your site what you attend to do with data.

School Rankings
On the topic of a schools reputation, our second talk was from Zoe Thomas, education editor for The Sunday Times School Guide. They publish Parent Power, which covers the leading 2000 schools in England (including 400 independent secondary schools). Zoe explained that it was only in 1992 that the first performance league for schools was published. Beforehand, parents had no facts or figures to go by when choosing a school. How times have changed.

Parent Power was clearly very popular in the room because they go beyond academics when assessing schools. Zoe explained that they are different to the bare-bone league tables of exam results, which can be riddled with inaccuracies in the scramble to get them published on time. The Sunday Times School Guide aims for a through assessment of a school, checking any awards and looking back to exam results as far back as 2010.

An interesting insight Zoe mentioned is that while some parents may complain that Parent Power is too elitist, for some schools, it is not elitist enough. Zoe stated outright that Parent Power isn’t in the market to produce Tatler-esque profiles on schools. The essential ingredient for boosting your schools media brand is consistency across the board, not just exam results.

What’s in Santa’s Sack at ToucanTech?
Our final talk was from ToucanTech co-founder and chief product guru Sian Morley-Smith on what new features Santa had in his sack from ToucanTech. Sian began her talk by explaining that all product development at ToucanTech comes from customer feedback; it’s a product constantly evolving to meet the needs of its users. We’ve had lots of releases recently, including updates to our Events management software (we ticked people off the list on our phones as they arrived), a new Resources section and Reporting features. In Reporting, admins can build tables to better view, interrogate and edit their data.

Looking ahead to 2018, Sian teased some upcoming features for ToucanTech. First up was the ability to sync emails and create letter templates (for acknowledgment letters). Cue many smiles from our attendees (which had nothing to do with the wine!).

Last was a major new career and mentoring module for ToucanTech. This new feature will combine a community jobs board with the ability for registered mentors to connect and with alumni to offer career guidance and advice. It looks to be a very popular feature for alumni and development professionals.

Exciting times at ToucanTech! Please get in touch if you want to find out more about our existing and upcoming features.

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