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General Chat Thread, School reach to parents in General; Just had my appraisal and Ive got to look into ways of extending our presence with parents and technology which ...
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    hardtailstar's Avatar
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    School reach to parents

    Just had my appraisal and Ive got to look into ways of extending our presence with parents and technology which includes:

    - school app (one phone platform to start)
    - email service to email termly
    - website (overhaul of website)
    - improve the text service
    - digital displays


    How many of you have the above and what do you suggest?

    Thanks

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    TechMonkey's Avatar
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    That is a lot for one appraisal!

    Website - could be a term to 6 month job, if not a year. Choice is roll your own (Wordpress, Joomla etc) or get a company to do it with the school carrying out the day to day input.
    Email service - I'm presuming you mean a school newsletter to go out to parents. I'd do this after your web design as you will then have a design to mimic (you may be able to rope the designers of the website into making you one if you flutter your eyelids nicely) and can keep a branding similarity. If you mean an actual service to use to send them out, there are various educational aimed services but MailChimp does mail lists very well and has all kinds of metrics you can keep an eye on so be able to return solid numbers for success (or failure) to management.
    School app is tricky, I can see it becoming a millstone around your neck. If you are redesigning the website why not make it an adaptive design so the website looks good on a phone. Then broadcast to parents how to stick a shortcut on their phones.
    Text service. No real experience of this sorry but there are educational aimed services again or look at the email to text services around.
    Digital Displays. Depending on your budget you can go cheap with Xibo and just pay for hardware, or go more expensive and get a proprietary system in. I only have experience of Xibo & find that fab, if a little involved to set up in the first instance.

    Hope that helps

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    hardtailstar (16th July 2014)

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    sparkeh's Avatar
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    What do you intend to do with the app? We use Schoolcomms and parents can download the School Gateway app which allows to send app messages (among other things like make online payments). This also covers emails and text service.

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    hardtailstar (16th July 2014)

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    StevieM's Avatar
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    We have a text messaging service, which we use to notify parents of any issues that arise at short notice, e.g. after-school club cancelled, school closing due to adverse weather conditions, etc. Other than that, it's just our website.

    I've got to say, though, that I'm really proud of our school website, which I built from scratch several years ago (when I new absolutely NOTHING about building websites) and have since completely overhauled. Despite it's almost gargantuan proportions (300+ pages), I am regularly complimented by visitors on how easy it is to navigate and find exactly what they are looking for. It is (usually) updated at least once a week during term-time, even if that is just to make the weekly newsletter available to download as a pdf.

    Personally, I don't really see the point in a school app, particularly if it is just for one platform. I have, however, considered creating a cut down, text-based version of our website featuring basic current information, but it's not on my list of priorities. I can access it on my Windows phone without any bother.

    Nor is there much point, for us, in a termly email. I do a monthly round-up of all the newsletters on our main site, and all past newsletters for the current academic year are available to download.

    I'm not sure if I'm supposed to post a link to our website on here or not, but feel free to PM me if you (or anyone else) would like to take a look.

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    hardtailstar (16th July 2014)

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    TechMonkey's Avatar
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    With regards to the termly email/newsletter, they are usually one and the same thing but with the emailed version you link back to articles on your website. This (as the theory goes) means parents can be more picky about what they read, don't have to go and fetch a copy to read (which often means they don't bother) and you get to generate more traffic to your website. If you are producing paper copies this then cuts that out.

    In theory it is a brilliant way to do it. In practice you need to make sure your website is good and staff generate the content.

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    hardtailstar (18th July 2014)

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    StevieM's Avatar
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    Another option would be to create an RSS feed, to which parents could subscribe and be alerted when the website is updated.

    Quote Originally Posted by TechMonkey View Post
    In practice you need to make sure your website is good and staff generate the content.
    Yeah, right! The only person who generates content on our website is me (apart from the newsletters).

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    hardtailstar (18th July 2014)

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    For digital displays we have a dozen screens in our main hall hooked up to digital signage. Mostly displays stuff like activities / trips / upcoming events.

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    hardtailstar (18th July 2014)

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    We have plasma screens with Xibo. My plan is to replace our "What ever device we can find" with a decent machine. Plus it will be secure and locked in a cabinet - trunking and everything.

    We too are looking at an App https://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/well...837861378?mt=8
    This School currently is using one, Boomerang Education although I have yet to do prices. Something for closer to September.
    We already have a text service but we really need to get parents email addresses on to the system. Only way to fix this is either get letters sent out or phone up parents all day.
    Also our website overhaul is in progress done by an external company which is fine by me so we can simply update it when and how we want.

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    synaesthesia's Avatar
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    We're looking at apps as well. Groupcall was the first we got in touch with but their app was *far* too limited - whole groups only, no individuals etc. Interested to see what other alternatives are mentioned.

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    We had an app, but it was quietly abandoned. It cost us a huge amount of money and all it did was pull some stuff off our website and display the local bus and train timetables. I am looking at developing a mobile version of our website, which will basically do the same thing. We have another app which comes from the MIS system, and somehow accesses a students timetable, results, etc. I haven't seen it work but I guess it might be useful.

    We email a news letter to parents a couple of times a term. Actually, we only email a link to it on our website.

    We have a couple of digital displays, one in reception which gets used extensively, and the other in a remote part of the campus. They aren't on the network; the remote one has no wireless and there isn't a network point within cooee of it. I used to update it with the same news that goes on the one in reception, but the dept decided they wanted to use it exclusively, which is fine by me as it saves me a walk. It hasn't been switched on in months. I'm campaigning to get it moved to the library, where it would be used. We are having a new block built and we've ordered another digital sign for it. I think that will suffer a similar fate. In my last school, they were scattered around the campus and all networked. The first job of the morning was to update them with the latest news, which was supplied to us.

    We send out tweets occasionally, maybe once a week, when I can think of what to tweet. Sometimes staff ask me to tweet something but this is quite rare. Several depts have their own twitter accounts, but I don't know how often they are used.

    The website is being overhauled and moved to a decent CMS. We have been ready to go live for months, but nobody will make a decision as to the final design. The intranet is running on the new CMS (Joomla!) and is working very well, with the staff page being updated by several people (daily and weekly briefings, college events and staff social news).

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    Miscbrah's Avatar
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    Another vote for Xibo for signage. Works ace.

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    The biggest flaw with SLG is lack of reporting IMHO and that's really annoyed me the old eportal 2bit written on the back of a postage stamp system could log usage but SLG and Sharepoint can't?? well that's pants.

    I really wanted to buy into Groupcall Emerge, along with that there's a parent app. So if anything happens there's no logging in to check on them etc all notifications get pushed out to carers/parents. If it were me I would look to head down a purchased system otherwise it's just going to end up a weight around your neck (apologies if that's already decided I didn't read the whole thread)

    What helped us was to have an open clinic evening drop in session. We had the deputy head to discuss any "issues" myself and a few others just an informal biscuits, coffee and a chat. It worked really well as an introduction to get people on the MIS as we had a projector setup, loads of lovely instruction and talked to parents about all the cool stuff they could check up on.

    Have a look into having a drop in evening session, worked well here and lots of parents have my email address and get in touch directly. How about if/when things change on the MIS front you send home a newsletter to parents about what's coming along, send a feedback form out asking what parents would be interested in hearing more about.

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    hardtailstar's Avatar
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    Thanks all,

    Most of what I put is what we have in place at the moment except for the app, displays and email of newsletter.

    It was more about improving current things along with adding items.

    I'll look into those suggestions above.

    Thanks

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    Sylv3r's Avatar
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    Have you thought about the use of Social Media - Facebook / Twitter etc?

    Most students and Parents will be checking such sites on a regular basis. Everytime we publish a new article / newsletter on our school website we also post a link on the Facebook / Twitter pages.

    Up to now, we haven't really had any issues with abuse etc.

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    DocHouse's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by hardtailstar View Post
    Just had my appraisal and Ive got to look into ways of extending our presence with parents and technology which includes:

    - school app (one phone platform to start)
    - email service to email termly
    - website (overhaul of website)
    - improve the text service
    - digital displays


    How many of you have the above and what do you suggest?

    Thanks
    Go for social media we've done it and it's really blown our parents away this year we've done twitter, blogging and facebook on an average week we get an audience of 7.5k via twitter, 1200, via blogs and 2.5k for looks at our posts on FB. Taken about 12mths to get it their but it has worked really well

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