Using your Own Mobile App to Take your School into the 21st Century

Kevin Clayton

More and more of us now have a mobile device such as a smartphone or tablet. It’s something that has revolutionised the way we communicate. We can text friends and family on the go, shop whenever we want and get important information sent straight to our favourite devices. Advances in online development over the last few years means that you can get an app for almost anything nowadays.

That’s pretty remarkable when you consider that smartphones only came onto the market about nine years ago.

What is a School App?

Most schools have their own websites and these provide a lot of useful information as you might expect. The majority even have mobile friendly sites that can be accessed more easily on a smartphone.  A school app is slightly different because it can be downloaded directly onto a mobile phone or tablet, giving parents, teachers and pupils instant access to the information they need. It essentially goes a big step further than a mobile site and is a lot more flexible, allowing you to do things such as send push notifications and tailor content to specific audiences.

It’s estimated that 4 out 5 of us now have a smartphone and the average person has about ten apps downloaded onto their device. This can include social media apps or more specific apps for watching video, shopping and even taking photos. Parents and pupils are more likely to use a school app if you have one and they’re a great way of staying in contact with everyone. School apps can also be tailored for particular schools, both primary and secondary, and it’s now easier than ever to get one up and running.

How Does It Benefit Parents and Schools?

  • Contacting parents and pupils all year around: Essentially if your parents have an app on their phone you can send them information and update them whenever you want. You can send reminders of events, timetables for the new term and even personal messages if a pupil is ill or needs to go home early.
  • Updating in real time: A school app allows you to update everyone in real time. You load your message into the system, decide who it’s going to and they get a clear notification which appears almost instantaneously.
  • Lower admin costs: Because you’re not printing out material and sending it out to parents or worrying that someone hasn’t been contacted, you lower your school administration costs in terms of time as well as money.
  • Accessing Important Documents: Most schools need to have various documents such as curriculums and policies readily available to parents. A school app means that parents only have to go to the right section and they can easily download the document they need.
  • Emergency messages: If something happens at school such as a burst pipe or bad weather coming in which means you have to close early, you can send emergency messages out to parents to come and pick up their kids.
  • Useful information: A school app can be used to disseminate all sorts of information to parents and pupils, all of which can help them organise their day better or plan for future events.
  • Creating community: A school app is also a great way to create a sense of community. Many schools use it to raise money for charity, plan events and even produce their own blogs with links to interesting information sent via notifications.
  • Good for Ofsted: Organisations such as Ofsted look for schools to improve their communications with parents and pupils as much as possible. Developing your own school app is the perfect way to show that you are using all the technology available to contact and update parents and pupils.
  • Go green: We are all looking for ways to reduce our carbon footprint and schools are no different. When you have a single, powerful app that can handle all the information dissemination you need for your school it can significantly cut down on the amount of paper and energy you use.

Many schools that have developed their own school app have found interaction and communication between parents and the school has increased significantly. This is probably one of the big benefits of an app.

They also take the pressure off busy admin departments and are simple to learn to use so that designated staff can easily send out notifications and introduce updates with a few clicks of a button.

How to Get a Mobile School App

In the past, you would need to hire a designer to make a school app for you, which could cost a significant amount of money. It’s much simpler nowadays. High quality apps can be developed in next to no time and can be tailored to your specific needs. That means you get the features that make a real difference to your school and the parents and pupils who use it. These can include:

  • Putting in a term time and calendar feature that parents can easily check.
  • Allowing access to important pdf documents that can be viewed on a smartphone.
  • Including an events manager for things like sports days, school holidays and fund raising.
  • Sending out push notifications with important information as and when you need to.
  • Running a school blog that can be viewed on a smartphone or tablet.
  • Uploading photos and video of school events.
  • Including information such as Ofsted reports.
  • Tabs for reporting absence and booking on events.

All these can be incorporated into your own mobile school app and it can all be tailored to match your school logo or brand. Parents don’t need to be kept in the dark any more or struggle to find your website. They simply tap on the app and open it up to access the information they need.

The majority of schools that now have a dedicated app in place can’t imagine life without it. It’s certainly one example where new tech is helping to shape our world and make life better for parents, pupils and teachers alike.