TheSchoolBus is pleased to introduce our newest contributor, ParentMail, which offers modern ways for schools to communicate with parents such as email and text services, online payments and more. This week Jessica Brierley shares some useful tips to help schools improve communication with parents.
Parents need good reliable communications from their school; they’ve got a lot to remember – keeping track of important school dates, knowing which days to pack school kit or when to pay for school dinners for example! Here are some top tips to help schools improve communication with parents, save time and cut back costs:
1. Save money and stop printing!
Smaller schools can spend over £1,000 every year just on the paper and print for their newsletter, and bigger schools are forking out even more. Add this to the costs for print and paper for all the other school letters and it quickly mounts up. Save all of this money by sending letters and newsletters home electronically.
2. Cut out the middle man
We’ve all found school letters in a ball at the bottom of a school bag weeks out of date, or find that students have left them behind in school. Solve this problem by sending messages, event dates, parents evening forms, permissions and surveys, and even payment requests directly to parents, so they can receive information and respond from their mobile, tablet or computer.
3. Reach parents quickly
School closures, after school clubs cancelled or a trip returning home sooner than expected? Reach parents by text. According to a recent mobile survey, 90% of text messages get read within 3 minutes of delivery, which means you’ll reach them much quicker than calling each parent individually.
4. Taking Consent Online
Long gone are the days of schools needing to request and chase parents for consent for trips. Advancements in technology mean this can all be done online! Rather than printing what often amounts to hundreds of forms, sending them home to be signed by parents, and returned again, you can create permission forms online, send electronically and accept consent digitally.
5. Collect payments online
A recent survey found that 90% of parents wanted to pay for school things online and that included purchasing school items such as trips and dinner money. An online payment service is more convenient for parents and will reduce the amount of cheques and cash coming into school.
6. Keep staff in the loop
Use an online communication tool to keep staff, governors, and other stakeholders updated on school messages and important information, meaning they’re more informed when talking to parents about school news!
7. Everything’s going mobile
Figures show that six in ten adults in the UK now own and use a smart phone, with 1/3 of mobile users buying things via their phone. Using an online communication service which has been designed to be used on a mobile means you’ll improve communications, reaching parents instantly and making it easier for them to respond. Parents will be able to receive messages, complete forms, see school diary dates and make payments all from their mobile phone.
8. After School Clubs
Running a breakfast club and after school club can take a lot of organising, and chasing parents for payments can take up a lot of time! Make life simpler by using an online payments service which will automatically remind parents when they need to make a payment.
9. Free school meals
If you use an online dinner booking form to send home to parents, you will see more responses coming in and an automatic report will be generated for you, letting your staff know just how many of each meal they will need for the following week – saving time and making life easier for both your parents and your school staff.
10. Improve security
Most of us will be cautious when entering our contact or payment details online, checking that it is a verified site and that we are not sending our information to an unsafe location. Yet parents are still regularly asked to complete paper forms that can be easily lost, taking mobile phone numbers, addresses, signatures, payment details etc. with them. Keep information private by sending it online through a secure system, locked with passwords, so that only parents and schools can access personal documents.
For more information on specific ways to communicate with parents, you can visit this topic on TheSchoolBus.