Tag Archives: Microsoft School Data Sync

How To Get Parents Engaged in Homework with Microsoft Teams

We partnered with Haldor to deliver a free session for schools and multi academy trusts focusing on boosting parental engagement in students’ homework using Microsoft Teams.  

While there are some great advantages to parents and guardians being engaged in their child’s learning and homework assignments, it can be a challenge for schools and trusts to find an easy way to connect and communicate with parents. 

During the webinar, we shared our top tips on getting parents more engaged with homework by using the out-of-the-box tools in Microsoft 365 and how to enhance this with Haldor’s dedicated homework app.  

Below is a summary of what we talked about. 

Set up a weekly email digest for parents. 

An automatic weekly assignment digest can be set up within the standard Microsoft 365 package.  

Parents receive a summary of their child’s assignments once a week, and this provides a quick overview of set assignments, completed work, overdue homework and upcoming deadlines.

To use the weekly email digest, your school needs to be using Microsoft School Data Sync. Cloud Design Box are Microsoft SDS Advanced Partners, contact us for an SDS managed service.

An example of a weekly assignment digest email

“There are a few limitations to this,” Darren Hemming Cloud Design Box’s Operations manager, a parent and former teacher explains.  

“It’s only sent once per week, and we know some parents want to see this more often. The email digest is also limited in terms of the information provided – there are no grades or scores.”  

Additionally, it’s a static email and parents do not have the ability to log into Teams whenever they’d like to check up on their child’s homework progress.  

Enhancing parental engagement with Haldor Homework.  

Haldor Homework bridges the gap and allows parents and guardians to log in on-demand and find out what has been set in Teams and the current status of assignments.  

Haldor gives a more in-depth view of assignments, showing homework details, rubrics and grades.  

“It’s really useful for parents and guardians to be able to read the rubrics and grading criteria. It really involves the parents in their child’s learning,” says Darren. 

Haldor Homework App

What’s more, there’s no additional work for schools and admin teams as it links directly with Microsoft School Data Sync – there’s no need to create parents’ accounts or reset passwords.  

Parents simply sign up themselves and gain access to their child’s homework information. If they have multiple children at the school, they can flick between profiles in a few taps. 

Haldor Homework Assessment Criteria

On top of this, Haldor Homework is integrated with Microsoft’s accessibility tools, making the app inclusive and accessible for a broad spectrum of needs.  

Microsoft’s Immersive Reader enables the user to change the style and appearance of the text to help with reading comprehension.  

Parents can also use the Read Aloud tool to get the information read to them via their speakers or headphones.

Meanwhile, the Translate tool and Picture Dictionary are particularly helpful for breaking down language barriers.   

Haldor Homework Immersive Reader

“During the pandemic, we saw many parents teaching their children from home and becoming very engaged in their child’s learning. Now the schools in the UK have gone back to the classroom; it’s exciting to see a tool like Haldor Homework continuing the blended learning spirit,” Tony Phillips, Founder of Cloud Design Box adds. 

Please note: to set up the weekly assignment email for parents and use the Haldor Homework app, your school or trust will need to use Microsoft School Data Sync, the industry-standard way to automate your Class Teams and pull through parent/guardian contact details. If you need support with this, please get in touch with a member of our team.  

How To Clean Up Old Class Teams in Microsoft School Data Sync Summer 2021

The Microsoft School Data Sync (SDS) rollover process 2021 has changed slightly since last year, so we have created a video guide to walk you through the process. 

If your profile has expired and you’re ready to start the academic year, then this guide is for you. 

One thing you’ll notice is that there is no longer a cleanup option button. Previously, this button would achieve all of your Class Teams; however, in an effort to give you more choice, Microsoft has removed this button and – if we’re honest – it’s made it more of a tricky process. 

Below are some simple steps we can do – and remember, we only have to do this once every academic year. 

Important: Do not start the new term or year until you have completed the cleanup process. Otherwise, all of your users will get stripped out of those old Class Teams and won’t be able to access their archived Class Teams.

  1. Go to the Groups to bring up the Groups page.
  2. Click the Sections tab and select Section Report
  3. Select Generate new section report. This report provides information on class names, metadata associated with the class, state of the class team, created date and SharePoint site status. 
  4. Download the Section report once it has been processed.

Tip: If you format the spreadsheet into a table and create headers, you can then sort the information by Name or Section. 

  1. Find the correct SectionId for the Teams you want to clean up. Naming Teams correctly with the correct prefix and academic year will save you time here. 
  2. Remove the Teams from the spreadsheet you don’t want to clean up, and you should be left with the teams from the correct school and academic year. Save the spreadsheet.
  3. Return to Section Cleanup and upload the edited Section Report.
  4. You can Mark the Classes as Expired or Archive Teams (we’d recommend the latter as all the Teams are available in read-only mode). 
  5. Select Run cleanup.
  6. Check that your classes have been archived off. It should have cleared them from the SDS Profile. 

Now it’s time to start the new term/year.

  1. Select Start new term/year. 
  2. If you’re using CSV files, you need to upload your new CSV files. If you’re using an API or OneRoster, you need to make sure your new data is ready to sync. 
  3. Set a profile expiry date and configure the other options on the page. 
  4. When you’re ready, select Sync, and it’s now ready for the new academic year. 

We have a guide on how teachers can find those archived Teams, how to move over your old Class Notebooks and make sure you don’t lose long-term resources. 

If you’re a Cloud Design Box customer, we do all of this for you. Just make sure you complete the Roll Over form in plenty of time. 

You also benefit from an easy-to-use class dashboard where you can access all of your archive Class Teams. 

If you would like to learn more about how we can help your school or trust, please contact a member of our team today.

Class Teams Activation

All Class Teams provisioned by Microsoft School Data Sync are now deactivated for students. This means the students can only access the team once the teacher has pressed the activate button.

Activate Class Team

Monitored Conversations

One huge benefit is that students cannot have conversations in the team until it becomes activated. When hundreds of teams are created for each school every academic year, it’s hard to monitor all of them. With this new setting, teachers only have to monitor the conversations in teams that they have activated.

Prepare Class Teams in Advance

The activation step allows teachers to prepare content in the team before it goes live to students. Prepare your class notebook and assignments in advance before activating it at the start of term.

How to Activate the Team

It’s really simple, just click the “Activate” button shown below and confirm. Students will then have instant access to the team.


If you need help automating Microsoft Teams from MIS data and getting good user adoption in the classroom, contact us at Cloud Design Box.

End of Year Rollover Process in Microsoft School Data Sync

Lots of new and exciting features are coming to Microsoft Teams this summer, so get ready for the new academic year in advance and resolve any issues before the students are back.

I’m beginning the process of rolling over the academic year at many schools this month using Microsoft School Data Sync with the Cloud Design Box team. We have come across a few issues along the way. For the administrators out there trying to complete this process on their own, we thought it would be great to share our experience in the form of this video guide taking you through the process.

Before you begin the process, talk to SLT and teachers about the preferred clean-up options.

Expire All Classes

Adds a prefix to the start of the class name in this format: EXPMMYY. If you already prefix your classes with the academic year then there isn’t any reason to run this option.

Archive All Classes (recommended)

Archive makes the Team read-only. Teachers can restore a Team for a class and it will work as it did before. We recommend selecting this option so that teachers don’t have a long list of classes in the new academic year. If you have a course which lasts for two years, teachers can restore the class from the previous year and continue to use it; but it will no longer be updated with live MIS data.

Remove Students from All Classes

This removes students from class notebooks and all student data from assignments. This is non-reversible and therefore we do not recommend this choice.

A few issues to be aware of (which we cover in the video above):

  • Some classes will fail to clean-up – you will have to do these manually.
  • You may need to refresh the profile page if you get stuck on an error when starting the new term.
  • Occasionally a clean-up process may get stuck processing forever. If it lasts longer than 24 hours, log a support call with the Microsoft Education team.

We hope this video helps you out. Please feel free to share your comments, wins and frustrations with the process in the comments below!