We caught up with Karyn Ray, Headteacher of New End Primary School in Camden, about her recent experience using their school app during the coronavirus crisis.
Over time, the app had made communicating with parents much easier and the usage of the app has increased as the crisis escalated. Sending out alerts via their app was more helpful than emails as emails are not always monitored by parents at times like this. The school had been able to pre-load any information it wanted to send out and break it up into smaller chunks: “You do it once and it’s done”. Ms Ray told us that this was an effective strategy as parents can often feel bombarded when given too much information in one go. The app also allows schools to pre-select who can see which alerts, making sure any updates sent out are relevant and useful.
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Using the app to communicate has also saved time. To email the whole school she used to have to split the mailing list into four to stay within capacity limits, and copy and paste the message to send it in four batches. Using the app she can do it all at once: “it can be up to 4x faster, and even while working remotely we can contact both staff and parents”. The app also displays information even when offline or during network outages. If an important alert has been sent out, the alert will still be readable for parents.
Before using an app, New End communicated with parents via emails and text messages. Text messages had proved to be time consuming, expensive and inefficient: texts were limited by characters and if a link was shared it would swallow up the entire allowance. Switching to the app allowed New End to send out as many alerts as they needed without any restrictions, free of charge and as a result saved the school money. New End Primary now uses its app as the main communication channel with parents and is looking at phasing out email over time.
New End Primary’s experience has proved that using an app can: improve parental engagement, (information is more centralised and easily digestible), modernise communications, (parents are tech-savvy and already use apps for every other aspects of their lives) and smooth the period ahead while schools are likely to be opening and closing more frequently and at short notice. The app can be updated instantly and information is easily shared and scheduled.