Schoolcomms case study
Local Authority: Sunderland
Unique challenge: Needed to save money on communications so getting parents on the app quickly was a priority.
- To improve safeguarding.
- To reduce the amount of cash handling.
- To improve school to home communication.
- A single integrated parent engagement system.
- 70% of students have a parent on the app within 3 months.
- Improved efficiency for staff and saved money for the school.
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 after-school 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.
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 reduce 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 onboard?
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 School Gateway if they wanted their child or children to access our breakfast and after-school 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 School Gateway.
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.
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.
So, how much is Marlborough Primary saving by using free app messaging?
If Marlborough Primary replaces just one text per pupil with a free message to parents with the app, they will be sending 148 fewer 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.