Communications between teachers, parents and pupils will often be near the top of a school’s priority list, for obvious reasons – but that can sometimes cause internal communications between staff to be overlooked. Face-to-face conversations are usually the best way of conveying important messages to colleagues, but it’s not always practical to make time for them during a busy school day.
Email has historically tended to be teachers’ go-to communication tool, but with increasing workloads and overflowing inboxes, important messages can remain unopened and even go ignored. However, there’s now a variety of cost effective and user-friendly messaging tools that can make your internal communication more effective, while reducing your administrative burden.
Many of the primary schools we work with use the SIMS management information system for a variety of purposes, from streamlining their registration process to identifying vital details about their pupils. Most of its features can be accessed via downloadable apps on staff-issued tablets and smartphones, which helps keep processes organised and facilitates smooth, rapid communication between staff, wherever they are on site.
The SIMS Teacher app, for example, can display real-time pupil data and up-to-date pupil profiles. This allows teachers to communicate important information about pupils and their behaviours that day to colleagues without having to chase them up in person.
SIMS’ aforementioned simplifying of the registration process – whereby class attendance data is collected and automatically sent to office staff – can also enhance your safeguarding procedures. Staff can be immediately alerted to unauthorised absences and start helping locate the pupil(s) concerned far sooner that would previously have been the case.
Also useful is SIMS’ InTouch service, which enables staff to send emails, texts and instant messages to each other via a single, unified interface. Staff can also set up alerts to automatically notify them of pupil lateness, staff cover and marking reminders.
SIMS might be popular and flexible in use, but it’s not necessarily for everyone – perhaps due to financial constraints. An alternative, and potentially more affordable solution is the Microsoft Office 365 suite of software applications, which schools pay to access via a monthly subscription. Depending on the options selected with your package, these applications may include Outlook, Yammer (which allows internal ‘social networks’ to be set up within organisations and companies) and Teams (group video and voice calling).
Yammer lets you set up persistent team conversations with access restricted to specific groups – such as SLT – while ensuring that relevant people receive timely updates, without the risk of important messages getting lost in their inbox.
If you need to schedule a quick meeting, Teams can give you a virtual and cost-effective means of doing so. Whether conducted via voice, video call, or even instant messages, staff can check who’s online and whether they’re busy via Team’s ‘presence’ feature. It can also be accessed via mobile devices and desktops alike, giving staff the flexibility to participate in ad hoc group discussions from any location within the school.
Julien Parven is marketing director at Daisy SMB Services.