Back to school ready with school app checklist

School App Checklist

Get your school app, back to school ready!

Take a look at our school app checklist to ensure your school app is ready for the new academic year.

1. Raise school app awareness

Make sure new parents are aware of your school app, who to ask for support in setting up, and welcome them with a message in the relevant channel.

Remind existing parents too of the benefits and features of your school app as the more parents who use the school app, the more administration time you're likely to save.

2. Remind parents to update their chosen channels

Ensure parents don't miss important information by reminding them to update their notification channel on the school app to their child's new school year group. The best way of doing this would be to send an alert to all users on the Urgent channel.

School app checklist: remind parents to update channels

3. Content Refresh

Your school app is only as good as the information and content on it. So make sure you check that the information below is still relevant, correct and up to date:

  • Staff contact details
  • Lunch and dinner menus
  • Events calendar and club timetable
  • Online payment link
  • Other school news

This would also be a good time to remind parents to ensure their details are still up-to-date too. If you haven't already, put a Parent Contact Details form on the app, and send a message to all parents asking them to complete if and when any contact details change.

4. Registration check

If you have registration enabled (the requirement for parents to register and log in before accessing your school app), please check the registration page of your CMS to make sure the new years' information is in place.

Registration can be activated for greater security on all our apps, so if you are interested in this additional functionality, contact our support team for more information.

5. New staff training

If you have new members of staff joining the team this academic year, take advantage of our free and unlimited support and book training for new staff members today. We know how busy everyone within the teaching profession is, and our aim is to reduce your workload not add to it. Therefore, all our training takes place over the phone, we find normally 30 minutes is sufficient to get you up and running. If you have more detailed questions on the functionality of your school app, we can always extend the training session or have further calls later on.

If you would prefer to have face to face training on-site at your school, then we're also more than happy to arrange a convenient time to visit.

Our support team are always here to help so don't hesitate to get in touch.

We hope you've found this school app checklist useful, please forward to friends and colleagues too.

We're always looking for ways to improve our service to you, so if there's any feedback, or support you'd like to see, get in touch with our support team.

Reduce teacher workload

Challenge: Improve parental engagement whilst reducing teacher workload

Piota Apps, as a technology supplier within the UK education industry, has been set a challenge! Improve parental engagement whilst ensuring we reduce teacher workload by up to 5 hours per term.

On 3 April 2019, the Department for Education published a policy paper “Realising the potential of technology in education”. It’s purpose is to educate and influence both the education sector and technology providers to improve the use of technology.

“We aim to support and enable the education sector in England to help develop and embed technology in a way that cuts workload, fosters efficiencies, removes barriers to education and ultimately drives improvements in educational outcomes.”

The policy paper sets a number of challenges, requiring the education sector and technology businesses to work together to innovate effectively.

Reducing teacher workload

It’s no surprise that challenge 1 in the DfE list relates to reducing teacher workload. In a survey carried out by the NEU teaching union, 40% of teachers say they will no longer be working in education in 5 years time. The main reason for leaving teaching? Workload was the main reason for leaving for 62% of respondents.

So with our teachers, school leaders and support staff exhausted, what can we do to help reduce their workload?

This is where Challenge 1 in the policy paper comes in.

Challenge 1: “Improve parental engagement and communication, whilst cutting related teacher workload by up to five hours per term.” Department for Education


Keeping parents engaged - improving pupil outcomes

A high level of parental engagement can be incredibly important for a child’s education and attainment. The primary reason that our school app was founded was to provide better communication between schools and parents. What has become increasingly important, is ensuring that the technology schools use to improve parental engagement, impacts positively on teacher workload.

Our school app has very positive feedback and we’re confident that it can meet the challenge!

“The app has saved us admin time as we are able to send out messages quicker than via other methods. I would estimate two-three hours of time per week are saved by this.” Russell King, Deputy Headteacher

And remember, it’s not only time that can be saved but also money with a mass reduction in the use of photocopying!

“[Our] school app has saved us money. It is so quick to get the information out to parents. No photocopying newsletters – just straight out to the target audience.”

After Easter, we will be gaining feedback from all our schools regarding the app and reducing workload. If you’d like to send us some feedback, or enquire about how an app could help reduce your teacher workload, contact us today.

We will be reporting back with our survey results and next round of innovation shortly!

The Barn Nursery School – A nursery app to keep parents in the loop

Have you ever wondered whether getting a nursery or school app would be “worth it”?

If so, take a look at the article below, written by Sal McKeown for Practical Pre-School, which describes the experience of The Barn Nursery School and the decision to invest in a nursery app.

Supporting families

Sharon Cooper, co-owner of The Barn Nursery School wanted a “go-to resource” where parents could find out what was going on at the nursery,

“For us, it’s about making the sharing of information as convenient as possible for everyone.”

The nursery school downloaded several other nursery app’s before deciding to go with a Piota app, as it looked attractive and easy to use. This doesn’t mean a compromise on features though. When we speak to customers, the key things they want the app to be able to do are:

  • provide a central source of easily accessible information for parents and carers
  • integrate existing communication channels (twitter / facebook / website)
  • display text, photos, PDF menus, and videos
  • send messages to parent and carer’s, with the flexibility to send to one, many or everyone depending on the content.

Our apps do all this and more, check out our features page for more information.

So, the apps are great for parents and carers, but what about from the nursery perspective?

We build the app’s in a way which makes them accessible to all users. Reducing workload and administration time is usually one of the reasons you’ve decided upon an app, so we make them simple to use so you can start saving time and money straight away.

There’s definitely no need to be a technical expert in order to manage and upload content on to your app. Nevertheless, we do give full training during your trial, and have a friendly support team to provide on-going assistance / trouble shooting should you need it.

According to Sharon at The Barn Nursery School, you probably won’t!

“The app is simple to use and I think it’s very good value.” 

If you are interested in trialling your own nursery or school app, please get in contact with a member of the team today.

Talking Digital - The Barn Nursery School App


Building positive relationships with parents

Building positive relationships with parents

At Piota, we believe that building positive relationships with parents is the key to pupil success. Getting parents on-side and helping them to feel valued by the school will get them invested in their child’s success and this will have a positive impact on pupil outcomes.

Improving communication with parents drives attendance and punctuality, homework completion and even exam results.  So how can you harness this powerful tool?

Invite parents to school (and not just for parents evenings)

There are plenty of opportunities throughout the year to create a stronger community ethos in your school. Why not invite parents to help mark an awareness or fundraising day? Children in Need and Red Nose Day are just two options.

If parents are used to coming into school for positive experiences, they are far more likely to attend academic review days and parents evenings.

Ask the parents what they want

Before you organise any event aimed at parents, it might be a good idea to find out what they want!

If parents have been involved in the planning, they are far more likely to attend. Many parents will have had negative experiences at school themselves, and so they may feel vulnerable when it comes to communicating with you.

Build a positive relationship by asking parents for input on a regular basis. A simple parent survey is a highly effective way to do this (and can easily be achieved using a school app).

Building positive relationships with parents by sharing good news

We all know that pupils respond well to positive feedback. Parents do too!  Encourage your teaching staff to share pupils’ successes with parents on a regular basis, no matter how big or small.

If parents are used to being contacted by your school, they will engage more with what you have to say, even when it isn’t what they want to hear. Get into a habit of sharing good news with parents on a regular basis so that they are more receptive when you need to have difficult conversations with them.

Building positive relationships with parents will help to grow a supportive school community where staff and parents work together to bring about the best outcomes for the pupils.

How are you building a positive school community? We would love to hear more on our Twitter and Facebook pages.

Improving teacher to parent communication

The Importance of Improving Parent-Teacher Communication

At Piota, we truly believe in the power of communication in education. Whether your school already has good parental engagement, or you find parents hard to reach, there are always ways communication can be improved between the two parties. A child’s future is enormously influenced by those who invest their time and efforts. With parents and teachers communicating effectively, a number of huge improvements can be made to the crucial time that children spend at school.

Understanding the importance of education

The lives of teachers and parents are both hectic in equal measures, which can make effective communication a challenge at the best of times. However, research has shown that parents who are communicating and engaging with the school are more likely to understand the importance of education. Many parents find it difficult to define their role in the educational career of their child, which is why it is vital for every school to improve parent – teacher communication. Understanding information given from teachers about academic processes and the progress of their child will give parents the tools to appreciate and emphasise the importance of education in the home environment.

Download our free Parental Engagement Calendar

Pupil progression

Teachers who can effectively communicate with parents are able to set at home tasks and make learning suggestions in order to help aid pupil progress and development at home. The lAnd vice versa, parents can supply teachers with important information about the pupil that can help transform the way they learn in the classroom. Both parties can transmit valuable insight helping pupil progression when communication is open.

Problem solving

Children will face many learning challenges throughout their educational career; many may be huge obstacles to tackle. Such problems cannot be resolved without communication between both parents and school, as these problems do not exist only in the education environment or the home environment. Making teachers and parents aware of problems, whether they be personal, social or educational, creates a secure and productive atmosphere in which improvements can be made.

At home learning

As a parent, understanding the expectations of the school your child attends and the homework they are given is incredibly important. Education is a learning process for the parent as well as the child, which includes understanding the incentives of a teacher, the topics at hand and the progress of the child in order to support at home learning. Teachers who keep parents well informed about work that needs to be done at home see faster progression. Everyone benefits from engaged support of parents.

School improvement

Every school has a vision and it is imperative that parents can rally behind the school as an institution. The best schools have parents who (?) act as active partners throughout the time their child spends at school. Good communication between the two means that parents know they have a respected voice in the school community, not only on matters affecting the progress of their own child, but also on broader school goals. It is in the interest of schools to make parents feel that there is a safe and trusted space where they can feel confident to make contributions, as well as being able to see visible changes as a result of the communication.

If you are a school that is interested in improving communications with parents by using a school app get in touch with Piota!