How one school used an app

A medium sized primary school in Hertfordshire approached us two years ago to produce an app. With a school roll of some 400 pupils, their motivation was entirely around reducing the cost of messaging between the school and parents.

They now use the app predominantly to send around 7 messages a week in school time. We introduced individual messaging in the first year and it was interesting that very few parents, who had downlaoded the app at the beginning, subsequently registered their device. Although at the start of the 2017/18 year, the take up of the reception year who registered, was over 90%.

It will be interesting to see if the 2018/19 in-take, similarly engage with the app.

The lesson to be learned for schools, if you are going to launch an app, ensure that parents register and engage with the app as soon as possible.

Overall, we believe that registration should equate to about 200% of the school role...so that if in a standard secondary school, there are 1000 pupils, one would expect there to be 2000 registrations....probably reflecting an average of one student and one parent per registration. As a guide we would also expect there to be about 3000 downloads for a school that size.

I looked at all our schools and found that around 60% have a regsitration rate of at least 130% of their school roll. Which means that on an average school roll of say 500 pupils at least one family member has the app and has registered. In one school (a private secondary school in Scotland) that rate rises to nearly 300%. However there have in the past been schools, where the take up rate has been abysmal, (less that 50% of the school roll). Whether this is because the school has a unique demographic or because the school has not pushed the app and registration it is difficult to determine.

One school in a deprived area ran a prize draw, offering a box of chocolates and a bottle of prosecco. This draw was only open to parents who had downloaded the app and registered. They immediately succeeded in getting a 70% take up againts their school roll. However after the first year the users ceased to engage with the app and the school terminated their contract with us. Personally I think this might be more a reflection on that school's demographic that the utility of the app.

Specifically I would think that most schools already know what is the likelihood of parental engagement with a school app. Even though it is thought that many families are more comfortable with a mobile device than a website.  If your parents do not engage much with the school it is unlikely that an app will make much difference. However, the only way to find out for sure is to commission an app and make sure that the school do push it to parents and students (in secondary schools). It will become pretty clear in the first year if there is enthusiam amomngst the community.

One big help has been where in the school introductory letter to parents if the cost saving benefit to parents is spelt out to parents. Namely that the cost of SMS messaging is high, (at least £1500-£2000 per year) whereas an app messaging is unlimited and is free with the app. The app costing between £350+vat for an unbranded app per annum up to a maximum of £695+vatfor a basic app without SMS integration.

If you have any questions about how easy it is for schools to push their app onto their paretns and the benefits, please feel free to contact me. peter@ideafarm.co.uk or telephone 01625 572922