“It really has changed the way we communicate with our community. It’s streamlined processes, it has enabled staff to really quickly send out messages, communicate and reach a wider audience.“
Interview with Darren Gamble | Headteacher
Acklam Whin Primary School
What challenges were you looking to address?
“We were using traditional paper based communication and it was always the letters in the bottoms of bags and messages not getting home. There was a real mix of engagement which caused a few problems at times. It was reaching that wider audience that was our biggest challenge and how we do that. We knew from previously using an app with another provider that 98% of our parents had a digital device, so that seemed the obvious route.”
What features were you looking for?
“We were doing a lot and dabbling in a lot of different platforms to try and communicate and get messages and things out. Parentapps gave us a one-stop-shop for how we could send letters, messages and direct individual messages to parents or a group and the flexibility to do whatever form of communication that we wanted.
We also wanted to have a review of our website as well so that was in the back of my mind when we launched. I used to be an ICT adviser and I’m quite technical. But for some of our staff, it’s not something they’re regularly doing so if they want to put a letter out to a group of our parents, on the website and on social media, that can take some of our staff way too long. Yes there are training issues and things like that but the whole point of this was to try and streamline our communication processes and to a large extent we have done that.”
Why did you choose Parentapps?
“I think what struck us, because we did look at a large number of app providers, we looked at as many as we could, was cost. Cost was one thing but also having that flexibility of approaches and features that would allow us to communicate in a way that we needed to. That was the biggest thing along with ease of use and streamlining and trying to make things more efficient and I do believe Parentapps really gave us that.”
It really has changed the way we communicate. It’s streamlined processes, enabled staff to quickly send out messages and reach a wider audience
How are parents engaging with the app?
“We had an overwhelming response after launching the app in the autumn 2019. We had a very very positive response from our parents in the playground and at the gate on a Monday morning, saying that they were pleased that we were doing it and that they would be able to keep up with things that were happening in the school.
I remember talking to the MD of Parentapps at the time and how impressed we were with our initial uptake. We’ve targeted parents who have not signed up since and we’re in the higher end of 90 per cent for engagement.”
Why did you change to a Parentapps website?
“We have now moved to a Parentapps website and that happened in the summer 2020. Again, the contact and support processes that we had were excellent. One of the issues that you have with technology when you’re working with a company like yourselves is that we have a vision of what we want things to look like, then you’ve got a product and your restrictions and guidelines that you’ve got to meet too. But I did really feel like we were listened to, and we were quite picky as well. Your team were really patient and came up with exactly what we wanted.
We love our new website and I think that’s crucial to the relationship that we’ve got with you guys. You’re very much about what we want and if you don’t already do what we want, then you’ll look at ways you can develop or change things. I think that’s really important.”
What impact has Parentapps had on your school?
“It really has changed the way we communicate with our community. It’s streamlined processes, it has enabled staff to really quickly send out messages, communicate and reach a wider audience. I always say this but our school is right in the middle of this community and we’re the heart of this community and the thing that binds us together is our communication. How we communicate with staff, how we can communicate with each other. At the moment we’re using the consent forms for our staff to report our covid tests and I do feel as though the website has made that bond even stronger between ourselves and the community.”
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