Headteacher Magazine, guide to services and products for UK Schools
Whole-school communication apps can help to engage students, parents and potential employees in school activities – as well as cut down on admin and printing costs. Here Daniel Woodcock, Managing Director at Weduc, explains how…
With technology now so ubiquitious in schools, it’s difficult for generation Y and Z to imagine a time when none of it was available. There are Virtual Learning Environments, tablets, laptops, digital whiteboards and many more advanced technological products available today but does all this technology really help? In some schools, it can prove difficult to get teachers from generation X and beyond to use the latest technology because they are so accustomed to teaching in ‘the old way,’ and technology has become so sophisticated that in some cases they are playing catch-up on learning how to use it.
Despite all this technology, there is very little evidence to prove that students are learning more effectively, however; in fact in some cases, technology can be a distraction rather than a help if not used in the right way.
At one point, virtual learning environments were the go-to platforms for all student needs. Now, whole-school communication apps are becoming more sought after to help consolidate all communication methods both within the school and externally and increase parental engagement. Using these apps will enable school staff to send targeted messages to specific year and class groups, ensuring that parents receive information that is only relevant to their child. It is widely understood that the involvement of parents in their child’s education makes a big difference to their progression and success in school, yet due to a number of factors, parents are not as actively involved as they should be. The use of whole-school communication apps should start to bridge that gap.
A study by the National College for School Leadership stated that “feedback from school leaders shows that one of the major concerns in running a modern school is trying to get parents to engage more. Because of the changing demographic of modern parenting, traditional approaches to parental involvement have been largely unsuccessful.”
Whole-school communication apps proved particularly successful for the Royal School for the Deaf Derby, based in Derby. Weduc is helping them to reduce administration time and consolidate all manual processes into one, secure environment. The schools selected the product for its ability to link with the school’s MIS and bring together all communication methods on one platform. Prior to signing up with the system, the school administrator relied heavily on individually texting parents via a mobile phone whilst trying to juggle other tasks such as sending out newsletters, answering calls and updating the school’s calendar and notices.
Technology can help not only with parental engagement but also with other key areas such as recruitment. Alongside the issues of trying to keep parents engaged, attracting the right candidates for teaching roles can also be a problem. This has a lot to do with a school’s brand and reputation and sometimes the location of the school. Some schools are starting to look at themselves as a business in order to attract the best staff and students over competing schools. Potential employees will make their decision whether they want to work for a particular school based on a number of factors such as Ofsted ratings, reputation and catchment areas.
While technology proliferates in schools today, some is more useful than others and needs to be straightforward to use and offer clear benefits that solve a real problem, as well as being adaptable to an individual school or college and to the changing needs of the education sector. These are the platforms that will continue to be used and widely adopted and will ultimately be of benefit to schools, students, staff and parents.
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