It is one thing to effectively manage relationships with your pupils’ parents, but dealing with all the administration that results from effective engagement is a time-consuming task. However, edtech is here to help! Research commissioned by education communication experts, Groupcall, has found that schools that make use of systems like parental payment or homework systems have a much higher satisfaction rating among parents. Lawrence Royston, managing director of Groupcall draws attention to the shortfalls of manually processing paperwork, payments and bookings and shows how dedicated software can make things easier for everyone involved.
With the information provided in our latest research report, we can now see the way schools are interacting with software and how readily they are adopting some of the newer systems available. The technology ranges from processing payments to homework monitoring and parental engagement, and gives schools the freedom to operate in a manner of their choosing.
What methods are used to process payments?
Both primary and secondary schools were asked about how parents preferred to pay their children’s school for activities, trips, lunch etc. The expectation was that cash would be on the decline, due to it being more time consuming and insecure for school staff to process when there are other options available. The results were surprising. Despite a number of easier, faster and more efficient means being available, cash was still the most prevalent payment method by a distance. It was interesting to note that cheques were still used by a large number, given how there is talk of phasing them out.
One of the more curious things to note is the rate of adoption of other means of payment between school types. Secondary schools are much more interested in dedicated payment software than their primary counterparts, but see less use of other digital options like bank transfers or Paypal. The numbers of parents paying by cash are similar across both stages of education, which suggests that all schools are moving away from it at the same rate- more than half of parents appear to have moved past cash, but only secondary schools have dedicated software as a clear alternative, perhaps suggesting that some primary schools do not fully understand the benefits of parental payment software.
Can software help parents assist with homework?
Receiving help from home is a well-established factor in improving a child’s attainment. Parents and SLTs alike were asked about the levels of assistance being provided, and there was a degree of humility from the schools that the parents did not seem to think was needed.
There was acknowledgement from schools that they could be doing a lot more to help parents with homework, particularly among secondaries, 30per cent of whom ‘never or rarely’ provide assistance. One of the early steps a school can take is by adopting a homework system; giving parents visibility on everything set, as well as progress. By having the extra touching point with the child’s education, a relationship can be fostered to encourage a healthy learning environment at home. According to the report, roughly half of schools say that they make use of homework systems, suggesting that there is still some way to go before its full potential can be realised.
Is software used to contact parents?
There are a number of different methods of communicating with parents, including via the traditional picking up of the phone. What we wanted to know was the degree of technology used to broadcast messages on a larger scale. With the advent of social media and app based technology, there is a plethora of means ready and waiting for schools to use.
As can be seen, there is a clear indication that social media and apps are starting to have an impact. Social media is now being embraced by a third of schools and the recent inclusion of app technology has reached nearly 20per cent of parents in both primary and secondary schools. Email and text messages are still the most popular means of contacting people, and as products like Messenger continue to become more widespread, we are seeing more schools take advantage of the technology available to them. It’s worth noting that primary schools appear to be adopting tech faster than secondary schools. Perhaps this is because of a younger generation having grown up with more recent technology?
So, what software are schools streamlining their working lives with?
The majority of schools seem to be making use of the standard of communication systems- email and SMS. There are a number adopting more modern methods, and social media will no doubt continue to gain traction, but there is still a way to progress. Homework software is becoming much more accepted, with half of schools making use of it, and there is no reason why this number won’t continue to go up as people see its value. The area that is used less than could be expected is that of payment processing. Cash remains the most used, despite it being arguably the least efficient means to pay.
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