At Piota, we believe that school apps are the future of parental engagement so we were delighted to work with Kingsdown School to develop their app.
Kingsdown is a Community Special School in Southend for children aged 3-14 who have severe learning difficulties, profound and multiple learning difficulties, physical disabilities and associated learning difficulties. The majority of pupils find communication difficult, so new ways of nurturing & improving relationships with the parents and carers is a constant focus for the school.
We spoke to Kingsdown’s headteacher, Margaret Rimmer, to find out her views on the app and how it had benefited her school.
Why did you consider getting the school app?
“To improve relationships between parents and teachers. SLT come into contact with the parents a lot but we felt more could be done to improve other relationships. Our school has a family feel and Piota reflects that. We hoped this would translate with the app and it did!”
What have been the benefits of using your school app?
“Parents know what is going on in the classroom and it has improved relationships with the teachers and parents who use it. In fact, there has been a ripple effect and it’s gone from parental engagement to family engagement, which is fantastic.
“We don’t even need to use the text messaging service anymore! We don’t feel a need for Twitter or Facebook because we can engage more effectively and safely with parents using the app.”
What has been the parent’s reaction to your school app?
“It has completely taken off. They love it.
“The school app is about their child. They love seeing pictures of their child and what they do during the day. Parents who had previously not wanted photographs taken of their child now happily give permission because it means they get to share in their school day.”
Do you believe that your school app can improve attainment?
“Yes it can! Our children need consistency, they need the vocabulary; so if they have done something during the day they can relive it at night because the parents can get the app up and see what they’ve done.
“Then they can talk about it, and talk about it, and talk about it! The child will then not only increase their vocabulary but also progress.”
Any final thoughts on your school app?
“It is so good. It is showing parents, whose child, when at home, may pull the place apart or be unable to say very much, actually engaging. This is something parents may not have seen before. For them to see this is just so powerful.”
Kingsdown School illustrates that by putting the parent at the centre of their child’s day, by sharing pictures and news of what they’ve been up to, parental engagement becomes the core of school life and not just a bolt-on. Without doubt, this makes it more effective and productive, and enhances not just the parent’s understanding of school life but also the opportunities available to the child.