Schools are perhaps one of the most tested and investigated institutions in the UK, if not the world. Not only are there perennial challenges such as those final exams and SATS tests, there’s the small matter of the odd Ofsted inspection to cope with. It’s no wonder that many head teachers are trying to find ways to improve things by incorporating new technology, giving parents, teachers and, more importantly, pupils the chance to engage more effectively.

One of the key focuses of organisations such as Ofsted is how schools communicate more intelligently with everyone involved. It forms part of their judgements under leadership and management and involves such aspects as how schools engage parents and carers, garner their views and involve them in the decision making processes of the school. A big part of this is also the quality and depth of the communication that schools provide on a daily basis.

That not only means keeping parents and carers up to date with their children’s progress but providing ongoing information about the functioning of the school. Finding a simple and cost effective way of doing this has been one of the challenges that many head teachers have faced in recent years. It often involved sending out hardcopy newsletters and messages, as well as making telephone calls which could be very resource and labour intensive. The good news is that technology is making things a lot easier today if you are a school that needs to get information out to parents on a regular basis.

Ofsted inspectors are looking for key areas where schools engage more intelligently with parents. Introducing technology into the mix such as a dedicated school app can solve a lot of problems while also helping to keep those all-important costs down. It allows schools to keep parents fully informed and can be tailored to specific needs without causing an extra burden on office administration.

The truth is that parents can sometimes be hard to reach. They may be busy at work or they may have difficult circumstances, perhaps separated where one parent lives a significant distance away from the school. Providing access to a smartphone app where everyone concerned can receive notifications that keeps them up to date with what is happening in the school makes a lot of sense. It saves a lot of time too.

It can also be used to engage parents more by getting their responses to certain activities and giving them the opportunity to fully support pupils’ learning.

All these measures score points with Ofsted inspectors beyond the general running of the school and the quality of its teaching. Outstanding and good institutions all demonstrate a positive relationship between interested parties, particularly those who might find it difficult to work with a school for one reason or another. Great schools make sure parents and carers are ‘exceptionally’ well informed and provide guidance for how they can become more involved.

While school apps are only part of the solution, they are an ideal, cost effective way of engaging with parents on a wider scale. Notifications can be sent directly to smartphones and tablets which means that parents can organise their time, find opportunities to engage and feel more involved in the running of the school.