Thursday , December 14 2017

School apps keep parents in touch

The frantic scramble for 30 swimming notes, hunting in lost property for spare goggles, towels, or a size six pair of board shorts? Does this sound like the first day of swimming at your school?

 I would wager every school administration team has had to work through a phone list of ten families who have one more day to get their camp notes in, and balance paid, or their child will be excluded. For teachers it’s a nightmare, and no amount of alerting, newsletter inclusions or even stapling notes to jumpers seems to streamline this process.

Many of them juggle work and home life to within an inch of disaster, many are barely staying afloat, let alone on top of things. The contemporary brain is overloaded; we all know that. We know that we have inundated our down-time with emails, constant work availability and a stream of media, social and otherwise.

Increasingly both parents work, and without a dedicated home manager, anything that doesn’t scream for attention might just be overlooked.  While researchers explore how this new environment is shaping our brains, those notes on the fridge blend into the white noise between push notifications. Perhaps resistance is futile.

School administration has largely moved towards School Management System technology, (see our article from School News Term 3, which is now published on www.school-news.com.au called ‘easing school administration woes with SMS’). While SMS certainly provides a one-stop shop for all the administration needs of your school, channelling connectivity into parents’ pocket or handbag is the next logical step.

Push notifications have a 97 percent response rate, and 90 percent are read within three minutes of receipt, according to research published at info.localytics.com. Parents can be informed instantly, and engaged to manage and issue relating to their child immediately via a controllable and secure channel a.

Many schools use text messages to communicate urgent and non-urgent information to parents, including behaviour and attendance reports.  The range of applications include but are not limited to, tracking attendance, student wellbeing monitoring, accountability; academic, sending home behaviour reports to parents; assessment and learning outcomes; scheduling and calendars, and portals for communication.

parents keeping in touchCommunicating through an app is actually more inclusive. Mass text-messaging doesn’t reach those who live outside mobile phone coverage, or those relying on wifi for access to the internet via their smartphones during the day. People relying on free library services for their internet needs is more common than many realise, where budgetary restraints prioritise other expenditure. 

There’s a more serious side to the busyness of the modern family. With far less time, and (in many cases) supervision available for young 
people, it can be easy to miss vital signs of disengagement with school, such as poor attendance and behavioural patterns.

Government agencies and mental health organisations promote research that consistently reflects a positive correlation between home-school partnerships and student wellbeing. 

Sending photos, class updates and newsletters, maintaining communication or requesting appointment are all ways that teachers can keep those channels open, and apps just make that easier, faster and more inclusive.

 

About Suzy Barry

Suzy Barry

Suzy Barry contributes more than a decade of editing and journalism experience, and a background in education to her role as editor of School News, Australia.

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