We recently caught up with Kate des Places, Director of External Relations at Marymount Paris to see how they were getting on with their app.
In September 2019, Marymount Paris decided to revisit their communications strategy. “Email management was becoming cumbersome” and it was all too easy for important messages from school to be lost in a parent’s already crowded Inbox. Having a customised app that uses push notifications cuts through the clutter and makes sure information is both seen and received; “it made sense to have a daily communications tool you can put in your pocket; the information is literally at your fingertips”.
Parents increasingly wanted information in real-time and available in a centralised place on their smartphones and devices, so the natural solution was to test an app. This turned out to be the perfect solution as it allowed them to centralise all of the school’s information, arrange it according to different stakeholder needs, whilst also improving parental engagement. Marymount Paris has found that sending updates and urgent messages via their app is more effective than emailing parents; they are more visible to parents, and by centralising everything in one place parents have a hub for information directly accessible whenever needed. Kate des Place says their app has become the “go-to place for parents looking for information“.
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The ability to customise their app was key for Marymount Paris, as they needed it to be flexible: in a complex organisation with lots going on, making changes to their app interface, scheduling alerts and updating information easily and efficiently is critical.
During the Covid-19 crisis, the school has used its app to keep parents in the loop in real-time and ensure important information was communicated instantly to the relevant people in bite-sized chunks. They also quickly reconfigured the app design to feature more prominently their Remote Learning resources, making them super-easy to access via the app on tablets or phone. “Piota was so responsive“, always on hand to assist in making any changes and helping the school to fully maximise the effectiveness of its app. The architecture has also meant that the school can put safe, effective online learning resources within easy reach – at the click of a ‘button’ – of younger learners – many of whom are relying on iPads or tablets for school, and who are not used to navigating online platforms or the internet.
This has been extremely helpful for parents who are juggling teleworking and need children to become digitally autonomous overnight. Having an app has really made a difference to parental engagement too: “parents love it, it’s responsive and we can communicate things in advance”. The staff have encouraged parents to use the app by doing live demonstrations during drop-off and pick-up times. It has helped to build a stronger sense of community and encouraged a dialogue about how using technology can help parents feel more involved and by extension improve student’s learning. The school roll is 400 but the app has been downloaded over 1,000 times now as parents download it on all their devices to make sure they can remain in close touch:
Marymount Paris has had a great experience with their app to date and are continuing to customise it to meet their needs throughout the school year. They have found it so “easy to use” and are delighted that it is so accessible and easy to manage. Their communications team navigated it with ease: “Anyone can do it!”.