Can apps replace SMS to communicate with parents?

Ernehale Infants

Have you been considering the question 'are apps a competitive alternative to SMS text services?'...

There was a time when no doubt someone said, "Well not everyone has a mobile phone"...Clearly that is no longer the nay-sayers response. Now it might we be..."Well, not everyone has a smartphone" or maybe, "I'm quite comfortable with my old Nokia still works as a phone, OK I can't get the internet but I can play snake!...."

So let's assume for a moment that you bypass that particular challenging deputy head or governor. With SMS you will have a parent's mobile number and you can send them a text. Not only that, but you can text all parents or just one parent, if there is a problem with their child. However on balance, wouldn't you probably contact a parent by phone if it was urgent or by letter if it was less so?

With an app you can send a push notification out to the whole school and to any one who has downloaded the app, reminding them that 'parents consultation night is on Thursday', even reminding Harry's Grandma in Canada.

However, you may not be aware that it is possible to secure the app against a database. If you have a database of parent's and guardian's email addresses, you can require all users who download the app to identify their email address, or you can provide them each with individual passwords. You can also secure certain areas of the app, so for instance only parents who were involved could see the recent father and daughter netball match (I wish I'd been able to do that 8 years ago...)

We are currently working on complex notifications for Autumn Term. This will allow parents to choose to receive notifications for certain groups, i.e. Year 6 children only, the football team, the Quidditch team (well you never know?) etc. Thus making an app more competitive with SMS in terms of targeting communication to parents.

On pricing there is no comparison, even if you buy a bulk amount of texts in a year it can cost over £1000 for the licence however you can't send the school sports day photos by SMS, nor can you post the school uniform policy should the year 6 develop a penchant for "punk rock styling" of the school uniform. On top of that can you remind parents or pupils of the revision topics or spelling tests via text?. With an app you can and the cost of a branded app for far less than half price of the SMS licence....including the build support and maintenance and all future upgrades.

Overall as with most things, an app has advantages which in some cases outweighs text... in some cases not.

It may not be appropriate for communicating with every parent for every school.

However, Kay Collinson the headteacher of an infants school in Nottinghamshire reports that she has saved thousands of pounds in printing, ink, paper and postage by using our app. With 191 pupils on the school roll, she now communicates with 170 of them by her app. Meaning that she only has to write to 21 parents.

So there are some thoughts you may like to consider.

Peter Sadler
0750 751 9048