Using SMS messaging in schools

The main challenges public sector organisations have had to face since the General Election have been how to reduce costs and operate more efficiently while still maintaining high levels of customer service.

Such pressures are taking their toll and nowhere is this more apparent that in education. Schools are obliged to keep parents/carers updated of their children’s progress during the academic year via reports, parent evenings etc. Failure to do so reflects badly on them and can effect funding.

In addition to this, schools are in contact with parents/carers more or less on a daily basis about routine information such as exam dates, school trips, after school clubs, teacher training days, parent/teacher meetings, school uniform, fund raising events and so forth. Administration staff are increasingly overstretched and keeping up with routine communication is becoming more and more challenging.

Many schools have been using electronic communication for some time and Government has stipulated that by the end of 2012, all schools will be required to communicate with parents electronically. Email, however, is not necessarily the most effective way to communicate routine messages, particularly time sensitive ones. Unless the recipients are online (assuming they have Internet access in the first place), or have a Smartphone, chances are they won’t receive the message until it’s too late.

The most effective way to deliver time sensitive information, both from an execution and a cost point of view, is via SMS. This was demonstrated by the findings of a BBC survey carried out in Scotland in December last year, which showed that after local radio, SMS was the second most popular way to receive information about school closures. 

SMS notifications could easily be much more widely adopted to deliver routine messages and to provide parents/carers with progress updates of pupils. They are currently updated via parents’ evenings, which happen two or three times a year.  Indeed, a recent survey carried out by Becta has shown that more than two-thirds of parents would like to receive regular SMS or email messages about their childrens’ progress in school. Only 8% of those surveyed benefitted from such a service.

No specialist software or equipment is needed and single or multiple messages can be sent to individuals or pre-define groups. Messages can be targeted (by year group about a school trip for example), written and delivered instantaneously using online SMS services. Unlike bulk emails, which can be affected by SPAM filters, you know your message will get through. Even in the unlikely event that a parent/carer does not have a mobile phone, text messages can be left on landlines.

SMS notifications are cost effective because messages can be bought in bulk. You can also see at a glance how many messages have been delivered and how many replies you have by looking at delivery reports. 

We are a provider of online SMS services and unlike most other SMS providers, we also provide a personalised replies facility at no extra charge. What this means is – if a parent responds to a message received from a teacher, that message is delivered directly to that teacher and not to a centralised holding account, as is usually the case with online SMS services. It is an effective, yet non- time consuming way for teachers to establish relationships with parents/carers about a pupil’s progress, so that help and support can be provided when it is needed.

All our online SMS solutions integrate seamlessly with electronic registration systems via a developer’s API, and this API can also be customised to meet specific requirements. Click here to find out more about who we are and what we do.

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