Best Days of our Life

Totem Communications has created a national service called School Trips Plus which aims to give parents and teachers peace of mind by providing information needed to organise a school trip effectively and allowing communication during the outing.

The service backed by the National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT) and the National Confederation of Parent Teacher Association (NCPTA) is aimed at pre-schools, primary and secondary schools. School Trips Plus consists of a web site ( and a unique telephone service. The web site provides an interface for teachers and parents to search over 7,000 venues in the UK, find information about the venue and establish potential hazards prior to their visit. The information supplied includes contact details, health & safety policies of the venue, education programmes aimed at children and guidelines on what to do in an emergency. The telephone service comprises a central School Trips Plus telephone number (0870 950 1718), a unique school ID and a voicemail account. This fully integrated solution utilises Totem’s IVR (Interactive Voice Response) platform and XML programming to liaise directly with the Schools Trip Plus database. Counter measures have been placed within the solution to ensure that calls will automatically route to the call centre agents.

Schools register the mobile phone details of their teachers online and are provided with a unique school ID. Whilst on the trip, children are given wristbands or lanyards to wear with a tag displaying the school’s unique ID. If a child wanders off, is involved in an incident/accident or is misbehaving anyone can call the number on the tag and input the school ID. This will then automatically call all of the mobiles of the teachers on the trip and the first to pick up can deal with the situation as appropriate. If there is no answer from the school teachers on the trip, the call is automatically routed to the School Trips Plus 24 hr call centre.

The School Trips Plus telephone service also has a variety of other useful tools designed by Totem including a voicemail technology which enables communication between teachers and parents. For example, if the school group is delayed, the teacher can simply leave a message on the school’s voicemail account and parents can dial the number to obtain an update from the school. The teacher can use the service to contact their colleagues rapidly if they need help, e.g. if the child is misbehaving or there has been an accident and they need help. When they dial the number, it will call all of the teacher’s mobiles on the trip. The head teacher could dial the number to contact all of the teachers if there was an issue they needed to make them aware of. Alternatively, the parent could use the number to get in touch with the teacher in an emergency, e.g. if they’re going to be late picking up their child.

“School trips play a huge part of a child’s life and with this new service we hope to provide teachers with the confidence and reassurance that they have the tools to make school trips safer,” commented Paul Kent, Managing Director of Community Alerts: “This service would not be possible without using the latest and most resilient technology provided by Totem. We approached several suppliers but Totem was the only one who understood what we were trying to achieve and has the ability to cope with the potential scale of the service such as 60,000 voicemail accounts.”

Chris Brassington, CEO of Totem, said: “We are really pleased that our technology is being used for such a worthwhile service. We continuously strive to work closely with our customers to understand their needs and to develop a service that meets their objectives.”

The service is being rolled out to over 60,000 schools and thanks to the generous sponsorship of H Tempest Ltd is free for every school in the UK for the first year.

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