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New year, same old forms...?

By Giovanni Vercellino,Henrique Gonçalves and Luiz Felipe Machioni

The start of the school year, an exciting time for many reasons. New classes, new students, new teachers. However, the start of the school also comes with a dreaded, boring and ridiculously outdated part of the St Francis school experience: signing forms. There are many problems with the way the school handles them

The school still uses a wildly obsolete format for distributing forms: paper copies.

Although some forms can be signed digitally, most of them still require physical signatures from both the student's parents. Many students have very busy parents who sometimes don't live together or could be on long business trips at the start of the school year. The fact that both parents have to sign the form physically isn't very inclusive to those students."It is hard to get both my parents in the same place at the same time" says student Erick Johannpeter (DP1) and many others who preferred not to be named in the article have expressed similar concerns.

The fact that in 2019 we had to take at least 9 papers home to be signed individually is ridiculous. The sheer abundance of forms is astounding when they could be easily combined online. Information that could be written down once has to be done repeatedly because of the different types of forms.

To add insult to injury, the forms aren't even handed out consistently. Tutors give out some on the first day and some others along the first week of school but others are only accessible through the website. This makes it very confusing for any student to actually know where these forms even are.

According to a questionnaire we made, everyone hands in the form in time, but there can be some issues when signing them, for example: one person said that their father worked really late, so it was hard to get all the signatures; another person said that their parents are divorced so it was very hard to get their father's signature. Most people would rather have the form be digital rather than on paper. When asking what they thought of the form, most people disliked them, two people brought up the wastefulness, the poor organization and the repetitiveness of the forms. Some people did say that the forms were important, but they also recognised how there were too many of them. Three people voted to have the forms on paper. We do recognize that it was not a very large sample size of students but the problems are evident, and a majority 66.7% stated they would rather have the forms be digital.

Is this really the only way to do this? In 2019, with the technology available to us at every moment, the only way to provide the school with this information is through individual paper documents. Some forms are handed out to every student in the school, meaning that they could be combined into one document with almost no extra effort for the school. In fact, I believe that the school would definitely save money since they wouldn't have to print all those papers. The school tries hard to be ecologically friendly- last year they stopped using plastic cups-and they try to encourage us to be mindful of the environment but think about the amount of paper that is wasted printing forms for all secondary students. Isn't it better for the environment, and even easier, to just have the forms be online?

The school could have all the documents in one specific place. This could be the school’s website, Managebac, or even in a tutor’s carpet if they print all the needed forms (preferably in years with lower amounts of students and forms per person ratio). Like this, the students would be able to better organize their needed forms, and make it easier for the parents to know what they need to sign, print etc. It would even be better for the tutors that may have trouble organizing the actual collection of all the papers and knowing which student gave what form. Having this one source would basically facilitate the entire community's life.

We all know that the school has to know at least from a yearly basis if any of our personal information has changed. An idea would be to have an online version where the parents would be able to have access to and be able to edit (if needed) all year round. Like this, the school would have an all year round updated version of all the student's information. This may concern phone number changes, address changes or any other alteration needed. This also applies to medical documentation. A student has to hand in a medical form when entering the school, something that is completely normal but the fact that every year we need to sign it is frustrating. The information that needs to be updated could be done so without having to fill out a paper again.

These are just suggestions of ways we, the students, are making. Maybe not everyone shares these same ideas but we hope you also feel like it is time for us to put the environment and practicality above the status quo.


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