Communicating with parents has reached new levels of importance over the last six months.
Indeed, the pandemic has accelerated many schools’ journeys to adopting new ways of communicating and engaging with their communities.
This is why many schools are turning to parents apps to help enhance their home-school communication.
Reduce admin time
Manually processing paper administration is a time-consuming job for already stretched school staff. What’s more, paper forms and letters passed between school and home are now not only bad for the environment, they’re also a potential health hazard.
Investing time in setting up a parents app, particularly one that links up directly with the school’s Management Information System (MIS), can have a big impact on reducing staff workload.
For example with the ScholarPack Parents app, if a parent needs to notify the school of changes to their contact details, or their child’s medical information and dietary requirements, they no longer need to fill out a form or visit the office to do this.
They can instantly update these details themselves via the app, which not only reduces the administrative burden on the school but is also much quicker and more convenient for the parents too.
Clearer and cheaper communication
Keeping the lines of communication open between school and home has never been more vital. ScholarPack’s Parents app integrates seamlessly with the ScholarPack MIS which has proven to be particularly beneficial.
Together, these two systems allow schools to instantly communicate with very specific groups of parents (eg class bubbles, key workers or vulnerable groups) by quickly pulling them into separate lists, and then allowing the school to send out tailored app messages to each group, saving headteachers a big job.
Crucially, they also allow two way messaging – so parents can respond quickly too.
Having a system that allows messages to be kept together in one place, alongside contextual information, such as key worker status, means faster and clearer communications for everyone.
What’s more, unlimited in-app messaging allows you to dramatically reduce the money you spend on SMS bundles, meaning apps are a cost-effective alternative to other communication tools.
Increase parental engagement
The sheer volume and urgency of updates needed over recent months has meant schools are increasingly moving away from formal protocols or letter writing for ease and speed, opting instead for methods that facilitate more instant, regular updates.
As a result, schools are discovering that many parents actually respond better to more informal, relaxed methods of communication, such as app notifications or even social media updates. After all, this is what they’re used to using in their personal lives.
Apps are also opening up new avenues for engaging parents on key issues.
For example, when it comes to managing attendance, the ScholarPack Parents app allows you to flag lateness or absences with parents instantly. Not only this, but the two-way messaging in the app means parents can reply to messages and give you the answers you need, quickly.
Parents can also get a greater understanding of their child’s attendance levels, and how factors like how lateness and absence impact overall attendance, using the app’s real-time dashboard.
For many parents, this will prove to be a more effective way of getting them on side, as opposed to formal letter writing or meetings in school.
The continuing disruption brought about by the coronavirus pandemic is undoubtedly extremely difficult for schools.
However, it is shining a light on the opportunity for schools to evaluate how they communicate and engage with their school communities, and to perhaps discover new solutions to old problems.
Going forward, embracing innovative new communications tools, particularly parents apps, could be the key to maintaining successful parental engagement, as well as tackling workload and budget crunches.
Richard Harley is the CEO of ScholarPack, the only management information system (MIS) designed specifically for primary schools.