How Parent Apps Can be a Great Tool for School Business Managers

19 Aug 2021

We know it’s not easy being a School Business Manager (SBM), especially right now.

In the wake of the pandemic, overtime for SBMs soared as you were forced to take on more health and safety responsibilities.

With this in mind, and now with the cost of living crisis, there’s more than just a strain on your time; some School Business Managers have taken on the added stress of organising fundraisers to support struggling families. With these extra responsibilities, it’s no surprise that nearly half of SBMs have reported a negative impact on their mental health.

You may, then, be looking at how you can save your school time and money elsewhere, in order to make room for everything else that you now have to do.

With many aspects of school life migrating to online and digital platforms, looking to education technology (EdTech) could be a great place to start, especially for your parental engagement.

One of the many responsibilities of a School Business Manager is to support and manage your school’s support staff to enhance their effectiveness and achieve improved standards of learning. Parental engagement is only part of the responsibilities of your school’s support staff, but it certainly is an important one. It is vital that parents are involved and engaged with your school, so they know their child is getting the best experience possible.

For effective parental engagement, it is important to understand parents’ wants and needs. To find this out, consider creating a parental engagement questionnaire. These can be a powerful tool to kick off a plan to boost the success of your parental engagement.

A good start would be to send messages to your school’s parents to a place where you know they already are. Knowing that 84% of UK adults have a smartphone, why not use software such as Schoolcomms’ parent app, School Gateway, to communicate with parents straight to their device?

Schoolcomms even comes equipped with a web version, so those 16% of adults without a smartphone are still able to access it easily.

Implementing an effective parental engagement process with a parent app is an easy win for improving standards of learning and freeing up time to focus on other tasks and improvements.

For even better results, you can harness the tools in a parent app alongside other powerful channels to create an integrated communication experience for parents. Using a parent app alongside school newsletters, virtual/face-to-face meetings, and social media will get your school’s messages out in a variety of digestible formats, which can help to boost your engagement with parents.

And this won’t just improve your parental engagement, Schoolcomms’ Parent Communication product utilises free app messaging, which will cut down on your school’s text and printing costs.

Mailing Letters is a thing of the Past

As a School Business Manager, we know you’re constantly thinking of new and innovative ways to reduce costs and save on admin time. Have you thought about the time spent on photocopying and sending letters to parents?

School support staff spend countless hours writing, printing, photocopying, and sending out school letters out to parents on a much-too-regular basis. Time spent stood at the printer and sealing letters into envelopes could be far better spent supporting parents and driving parental engagement.

There are just not enough hours in the day!

Time spent stood at the printer

It may feel like there are too many responsibilities sat on the shoulders of the School Business Manager and the school support staff, but implementing a parent app can help to relieve a lot of time spent on admin tasks.

With features like two-way app messaging, your school can send out messages to parent groups at no charge. There will be no time spent printing, photocopying, or enveloping; just write your message (or even choose a pre-existing message from a selection of templates), select the group to send to, and hit ‘send’.

But it doesn’t end when you press ‘send’. With web-based management dashboards for school staff, you can manage your comms from anywhere, and tap into advanced analytics so you can see who is engaging with your messages, and how.

Now, you may think that the time it’d take to adopt such a new process, weighed against the time saved when it’s eventually implemented, just won’t be worth it.

The key to success is in the training. As long as you get the right training and support from your parent app provider, the process will be as smooth as it can be. Schoolcomms offers detailed and in-depth training to its new users, as well as continued training and webinars to existing users.

With the right training and support, the transition will be pain-free.

“Is There Enough Budget for Some More Ink?”

Your responsibilities as a School Business Manager extend beyond streamlining support staff workflows and into the realm of budget management and saving on school costs.

Have you factored the cost of ink, paper, toner, and printer maintenance into your rolling budget? Could you be making better use of that money if you were able to significantly reduce those costs?

The cost of manually sending letters and texts to your school’s parents isn’t just about saving on staff time. The amount you can save on ink, paper, and toner when you no longer have to send out parent communications through letters, could be staggering.

Your school support staff won’t have to worry about running low on printer supplies; they can quickly and easily send out their messages for free, straight from their web-based app.

Revolutionise Your Payments

It’s not just printing costs where you could be saving. Schoolcomms’ parent app provides an array of functionality which your school could benefit from.

Parents can simply log on

Cashless Payments is just one other area where Schoolcomms can help you save time and money. You can set up all of your payment items in the Schoolcomms app – including dinners, clubs, trips, uniform and more – so parents can simply log on and pay the correct amount, to the correct place, instantly.

We know that School Business Managers are struggling under the pressure of budget cuts, and that 1 in 4 UK schools intend to increase school fundraising activities. Implementing cashless payments through your parent app will drive engagement from parents and help to increase fundraising income.

Anita Donnelly, Office Staff for Our Lady of Compassion Catholic Primary School, has said that “we have increased our fundraising income by over 180%. Collecting online has made fundraising much easier”.

And think again about the admin time that could be saved with a parent app offering a cashless system for your school. All of your school’s income from parents will be automatically sorted and counted, removing the need for your support staff to count cash, and removing the risk of miscounting or money going missing.

Schoolcomms can also help with reducing parent debt, school fundraising, and room lettings. All of which can be useful tools to support SBMs with managing budgets and increasing income.

Could My School Switch to a Parent App?

Making the decision to switch to a parent app for school isn’t an easy one, and it isn’t one you should take lightly.

You will need to do your research and pick the best available option for you. Think about what your school needs, what products you could benefit from, and how much support you will get from your parent app provider.

Some apps, such as Schoolcomms, are customisable with different modules and add-ons. You can choose which products you need and which ones you don’t, and you can add additional ‘modules’ at any time should the need arise.

To find out more about how you can streamline your operations and improve parental engagement with a parent app, take a look through our ‘Ultimate Guide to Parental Engagement‘:

Click here to download your free guide

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