A number of challenges stand between schools and effective, valuable engagement with parents Schools can improve parental engagement by revolutionising the way they communicate with families via a cost effective app.
The article originally appeared in the February edition of UKEdMagazine,which is freely available on Issuu
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Tip 1 – Accessibility:
Communicate with parents directly on their most trusted device 95% of parents own a smartphone and have it to hand throughout the entire day. Why not reach them directly on the device they favour for all other communications? Mobile apps have been developed specifically for the mobile world, email and the internet were not. Communication through apps is faster, richer and easier to manage. The school has full control over the app so content remains a trusted source of school focused information. No clogging up with junk or other peoples adverts.
Tip 2 – Relevant:
Keep information fun, interesting and relevant! Parents become disengaged when swamped by large volumes of information not relevant to them or their child. With an app, parents can opt into pre-defined groups such as year groups, classes, clubs and school trips to view only what they truly value. Likewise, if you want to encourage parents to discuss curriculum topics or school life at home, send them bitesized pieces of information as conversation starters with their child. By sending these on the app, you can include pictures, diagrams and links to videos, which will help parents engage their children much more easily. Here are two recent examples.
Tip 3 – Modern:
Don’t be afraid to push… notifications How often have you published great material on the school website only to find it was hardly viewed because parents didn’t know it was there? Or sent emails which got stuck unread in bulging inboxes? As for texts, they are more likely to get through but are limited by their format to a brief functional message only. Apps offer a much richer experience with versatile text formats and easy-to-add pictures, videos, PDF’s and links, and push notification capability that alerts parents to news, messages and information when it arrives. What’s more, our data shows that when alerted to a new bulletin or article on the app the average parent then reads six other pages immediately afterwards.
Tip 4 – Evidence:
Build engagement by learning from your impact Apps allow schools to monitor in real time what their parents are reading. So you can see what’s successfully building engagement and what’s not. Form the app management system, peaks on the graph are usually days when the school has sent out messages with push notifications attached. This information allows school to see how many page views each article gets and tailor future content and frequency of messaging accordingly.
Tip 5 – Participation:
Make parents feel special: ask them their opinions… If you want to truly engage someone in conversation, ask them questions about themselves. It’s flattering for them and who knows, the answers might even be enlightening! On an app you can conduct quick but extensive surveys of parents’ opinions with very little time and hassle. Want to know how well the new joiners to school have settled in? Or how Blue Class rated the trip to the museum today? Or how confident Year 6 are feeling about Maths six weeks ahead of KS2? Or what the whole school thinks of the new catering supplier? Any survey message such as these takes five minutes to set up and send and responses are collected into a spreadsheet for you by the app. Extra tip: to make the parents feel really valued, follow up with a message summarising the survey results and explaining what you are doing in response to their feedback. Now that’s engagement…