St John Bosco Arts College
“It’s massively reduced costs through paper letters but also having term dates and links to the website, makes the information far more accessible and that’s reduced the number of things parents call in for.“
Interview with sophie lewis-newton | LCR/marketing manager
st john bosco arts college
What challenges were you looking to address?
“For us one of the biggest issues is that we were spending a lot of money on postage and we wanted to move with the times. We were able to send out text messages but we were sending lots and lots of messages out and it was costing a lot of money. We needed a system where we could implement email, and push notifications without having to use three different systems. Parentapps was able to offer that to us alongside being able to offer a lot of other information. The fact that it links with our website is really good, so I know if I update something on our website the vast majority of the time it will automatically pull through to the app and I then don’t have to manually update different systems, which does save a lot of time.”
What features stood out to you?
“The messaging was the key feature that stood out for us. It was the fact that you could use email and push notifications alongside each other and we could tailor the way that parents received messages, which made a massive difference. We could guarantee that as long as you had a mobile number on the system that we could get important information to parents and in a cost effective way. For those hard to reach parents where mobile phones is the only contact that we have apart from an address, it was really ideal for us to be able to hit all those people in one fell swoop.”
Why did you choose Parentapps?
“We’d actually had the app recommended by one of our governors, she is a business manager in another primary school but is on our board of governors as her daughter came to our school. She had used Parentapps at her school and was extolling the virtues of it, so that really helped us narrow it down to who we wanted. The fact that Parentapps were a local company and could meet our needs all went into the decision of us choosing them. We hadn’t looked at too many other companies, only the more mainstream ones but we actually got a more bespoke service from Parentapps.”
Getting messages out to the right people at the right time is crucial. You can’t wait two or three days for the post anymore, it’s got to be instant.
How did you find the training and support offered?
“There have been a couple of situations where I’ve had to get in touch but the support team have been great. I’ve also had some calls with Hailey, who went through our data to try and get as many parents on board as possible and also check our data to see if there were any anomalies or duplicates to identify if that’s what’s stopping parents activating the app. The support team are great and the hub is also good because I know I can go in there and watch a little video and it’ll remind me of how to do something. But it’s quite rare I do need to use the support hub and only if it’s something that I can’t fix or I’m not quite sure about. Once you learn how to use how one section works, it follows through to the others and it’s all quite easy.“
How are parents engaging with the app?
“We have about 85% of our parents active on the app at the moment, but we really had the most uptake because of the pandemic. As we were shutting the school we were writing to parents to say ‘get the app so we can contact you’, because we were all working from home sending out paper letters was going to be much more tricky. That was a big turning point for us, as parents recognised they’d get information really quickly because there was so much happening and everything was changing.
I think the technological advances of making sure students in every sector have got some sort of platform to be able to work at home, it’s changed the face of education as we now have to be able to flick a switch. What could happen is that I could get a list of students that I have to send home tomorrow, but they have to have the same quality of education now as they would have in school. With technology we’ve had to all learn really quickly how we can do that. The communication side is the lynchpin around that, as getting messages out to the right people at the right time is crucial. You can’t wait two or three days for the post anymore, it’s got to be instant. It’s stuff like your daughter is going home in the next 10 minutes and you have to come and get them. And that has happened on so many occasions, but luckily we were able to do all that through the app.”
What impact has Parentapps had on your school?
“I think it’s had a huge impact on the amount of post that we send out, that’s definitely decreased. The standard procedure now is to send everything out via the app and we’ll try and find a solution electronically rather than sending things in the post. There are the odd thing we send out to parents who are hard to reach, as we have some parents who regularly change their mobile number and email address, but we only have the odd one or two like that. It’s massively reduced costs through paper letters, but also things like having term dates and links to the website in the app makes the information far more accessible and that’s reduced the number of things parents call in for. That instant ability to be able to get to people is great as we can message parents and say this is happening in school today don’t forget, or your daughter has an exam tomorrow, and that helps get attendance rates up.
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