Marlborough Primary School
Unique Challenge: Needed to save money on communications so getting parents on the app quickly was a priority
What goals were you hoping to achieve when you started looking for a parent app?
Initially we were interested in several areas when we first started looking at a parent app in the hope it would improve the service we could offer our parents and carers.
- Increasing safeguarding with a booking system for our breakfast and afterschool clubs
- Reducing the amount of cash administration in the school
- A messaging system to improve communication
Why did you choose Schoolcomms as the tool with which to reach these goals?
We found that Schoolcomms was an excellent integration of all the aspects we were looking to incorporate into our school. The fact it can run these functions under one management system has helped us improve efficiency in our administration of the school.
Phase: Primary School
Local Authority: Sunderland
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Were there any advantages to using Schoolcomms that you hadn’t considered when originally looking?
We found that Schoolcomms could offer even more than we initially thought possible. Areas such as attendance messaging, online reporting and the dinner money link to our SIMS system has helped significantly reduce time spent on administrative matters within the school office and reduced the amount of cash we are receiving from parents and carers.
We are particularly pleased that the app can notify parents of their child’s current attendance percentage and also enables us to log attendance conversations into SIMS to help us audit contact with our parents and carers. As our school has a high intake of Pupil Premium eligible students, the questionnaire that parents can complete through the app is also extremely useful to help increase awareness that a family may be entitled to Free School Meals.
70% of your pupils have a parent using School Gateway after only 3 months – what was your main driving factor in getting your parents on board?
We carried out an intensive marketing campaign that involved several letters to parents, regular notifications on our social media platforms and school website. We also used the app invite templates on Schoolcomms when contacting parents and carers and sent multiple requests to them once we had their details.
More importantly, how did you get your parents on board so quickly?
I think the language used in our marketing played an important part. We made it clear that parents and carers would have to get set up on Schoolcomms if they wanted their child or children to access our breakfast and afterschool club provision which attracts around 70% of our pupils on roll.
What are your plans for getting the final 30% of parents on board?
We are holding a school fair in July which attracts nearly all of our parents and carers. There will be an ICT stand there where we will be encouraging parents to sign up to either the desktop or app versions of Schoolcomms.
What has parent and staff reaction been to School Gateway?
Initially, reaction was a mixture of apprehension and concern as no one knew when it launched just how practical the system would be. Once parents began to see the benefits and ease of booking clubs, trips, contacting the school, paying dinner money etc all through the touch of a button at a time that suited them, the concern and apprehension disappeared and the majority of our parents are now happy with the system. Staff also find the system reliable and suits the needs of our school.
Schoolcomms is an excellent system that has improved the service we offer our parents and carers. I would recommend this system to any schools that are looking to amalgamate a number of services into one system
So, how much is Marlborough Primary school saving by using free app messaging?
If Marlborough Primary School replace just one text per pupil with a free message to parents with the app, they will be sending 148 less texts per day. 148 texts, charged at 6p (the average cost for a school their size), would have cost the school £8.88 per day or £1,687 per school year.
Is there anything else you would like to say about the Schoolcomms system and your experience?
Schoolcomms is an excellent system that has improved the service we offer our parents and carers. I would recommend this system to any school that are looking to amalgamate a number of services into one system.
Tips for increasing app uptake
- Aim for 100% uptake: School Gateway is available on computer, tablet and app – if a parent can access the internet then they can (and should) use School Gateway. For those parents that really can’t, Schoolcomms has inbuilt functionality for ensuring they’re still included.
- Raise awareness: School Gateway should be mentioned in your newsletter, on your website, at parent evenings and anywhere else that parents may see it. Remember to make use of the templates included in Schoolcomms to get parents on board.
- Make sure your staff are up-to-date: If the system is not being used properly then parents and staff will become frustrated. Schoolcomms offers free refresher training and new-starter training, as well as online tutorials for specific topics.
- Be firm in encouraging parents to help your school save money: Ensure that parents realise that this is your regular method of communication and that they are expected to access School Gateway if they would like to receive up-to-date information.
Speak to an advisor
They can answer any questions you may have or walk you through a demonstration of the system and its capabilities