International College Spain
“It’s honestly the best thing we’ve done. It’s efficient, it saves such a lot of time and it’s one central place again which for me is the most important thing.“
Interview with Sharon Spencer | Marketing & Communications Manager
What challenges were you looking to address?
“We were communicating via email mainly through iSAMS. Then with newsletters, we’d send them out digitally or before that they were printed. That was our main way of communicating with parents.
There were so many emails, people were being bombarded. It wasn’t quality, but rather too much quantity, that was the problem. Parents are busy and they don’t have the time to read all their emails. You know what it’s like. So we needed a place that would house everything. The problem with that as well is that we try not to promote anything about life inside the school, with dates and things like that on our website, because the press could get hold of them. It’s private. So these are the challenges we were facing.
Communication between the teacher and parent was also through just email, and we found that to be diminishing in satisfaction levels, because teachers just didn’t have time to communicate.”
What features were you looking for?
“The staff pass on the information to me, like curriculum updates and I’ll put them into the curriculum section of the app. This was something that was missing when we did our parent satisfaction surveys in the past. It was something that wasn’t getting through to the parents properly.
For me, the most important thing in comms was that everything was in one central place, because even if we had our newsletter or emails going in and out from everywhere, parents know where they can find the information.
For me, it was the one-stop-shop side of the app that was important. Obviously nowadays everything is at everyone’s fingertips and moves so fast. I honestly felt that we’re just not doing enough with emails or our Facebook page. We just weren’t getting to everybody. Not everybody uses Facebook, not everybody sees their emails. So, here at least they have one central place.“
Why did you choose Parentapps?
“I looked at Piota and a few other companies. With being part of a big group – Nord Anglia – various schools are doing different things.
I just liked their (Parentapps) approach. I spoke to Kevin and Hailey and they did a demo for me and all the parents because the parents were really on board and I kept them involved in the process all the way through. I just was impressed with the way that the app worked. Piota was ok but too basic. That’s why I chose Parentapps.“
Everybody loves the app. It was actually a commendation in our committee, which is where parent representatives meet up with the heads of our schools. They said it was very good, very slick, easy to access and made a big difference.
How are parents engaging with the app?
“I had initial meetings with our parents as I wanted to find out what they needed specifically. We have people who come from many different places and from very different schools, so we looked at apps they’d used in other schools. There was one parent in particular in the group, we had a committee of 4 or 5 people, who was in a school in Australia and she still had access to their app. So we looked through that, to see what we needed and did a little list of everything. Then from the comms side, I had put together an FAQs document which detailed the information parents always asked for, always need and will need forever. Things like the calendar and curriculum overviews, event dates and things like that. So we managed it from there and constructed a map as such from all that feedback.”
What impact has the app had on your school?
“For me, it feels like a safe place. If anybody’s wondering where a consent form is or they’ve lost their email, or they say we didn’t know about that, or they didn’t know about a holiday date that’s just been announced. Well, it’s all in the app.
Now that we’ve got 96% of our parents signed up (and using the app) people are getting more and more aware of what’s on there and know that any consent form they have to fill in is on the app. It’s made it so much easier for me. Having that backup to say to parents, well it’s all on the app and you’ve got to have the app, that for me is crucial. It’s been a real lifesaver.
I think the good thing about having the app is that we have the best of both worlds. It is a communication app, but teachers can put curriculum overviews and photos and everything else that goes into the newsletters on there, so it improves both aspects.“
What sets Parentapps apart?
“The support is fundamental because without you guys being there at the other end – I know you’re in the UK and we’re here in Spain – but wherever you are in the world, you’re there and you’re on it and you find solutions for everything. The support is so important because you do feel a bit lost at the beginning.
The setup was straightforward and smooth. It’s honestly the best thing we’ve done. The parents are just loving it and I don’t know why all schools don’t do it to be perfectly honest. It’s efficient, it saves such a lot of time and it’s one central place again which for me is the most important thing.
You know where it is, it’s on the app. You know where to go, it’s on the app. That for me is essential.
And it’s about you guys too. I felt comfortable the whole way through. I’ve been able to be myself, which is a panicky mess. Then somedays you’re thinking oh my god I can’t do this or the other and you’ve all been very calm and you’ve all been very helpful. The first number one priority for me was the support. The support for me was crucial because we all have very busy work lives and very busy normal lives, and having you guys there at the end of a phone or email makes it so much easier. And that you’re calm and you get things done.”
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