Managing communications is a substantial undertaking for any educational establishment. Parents, students, and teaching staff must stay closely connected regarding a wide range of matters, such as pupil progress, training sessions, school events, and more.
While there are several ways to communicate with these groups, a school bulk SMS service ensures that important information is distributed and seen.
Benefits of texting for schools compared to other channels
With mobile phones came SMS, and for a while, it was considered the best thing since sliced bread. It was one of the most popular modes of communication then, and it still is now. It’s also an excellent channel for advertising. Many industries can benefit greatly by utilising the power of
There are several ways for schools to deliver communications, including email newsletters, printed letters, noticeboards, or social media. Each of these has certain limitations, however.
Emails, for example, can often go unread – in the education and training sector, the average open rate is merely 23.42%. Important messages, such as emergency notifications, could easily be missed and have serious consequences.
Printed letters given to young students to take home often get discarded by mistake or lay forgotten inside school bags for days on end.
Noticeboards are only visible to those on the school premises.
And social media is best used for impersonal communications – you couldn't share individual school reports through Facebook, for instance.
Why mass text messaging for schools
SMS is a very direct and reliable channel. Everyone who owns a mobile phone has access to text messages and can receive them wherever they are through their cell network. It doesn't matter if they are not connected to the internet. Plus, there is no need to download any extra apps. They can receive messages directly on the native messaging app on their phone.
SMS has an incredible 98% open rate too. People are familiar with texts; they instantly connect with them the moment they see them on their mobile screens. SMS is often used for marketing purposes for these same reasons.
Because texts are concise (just 160 characters), they are naturally easy to read. Yet, even with the limited space available, you can include a call-to-action, such as a phone number or web address.
Text messaging is also very convenient for Gen-Z and millennial students and parents. In the US, it was found that 75% of people belonging to these age groups actually prefer texts over calls.
School text messages to parents and students: use cases
Schools can use a mass texting service to keep parents updated about parent-teacher conferences, payment reminders, pupil attendance, last-minute school closures, fundraising events, new class promotion, event reminders, emergency alerts, and more. A proper mass text messaging service enables schools to personalise SMSes easily and make them more impactful. The same is true for text message communications addressed to students too.
Below are some examples of the different types of text messages schools can send to students and parents for various purposes.
Parent-teacher meeting confirmation text
Parent-teacher meetings are one of the best ways to strengthen communication between school and home, positively impacting student outcomes. Usually, these meetings are held back-to-back, so the entire schedule can be affected if a few parents don't show up on time. Send meeting confirmations by text to help the meeting run smoothly and keep it on track.
Dear [Parent], this is to confirm that you'll be meeting [Teacher] on [Date] at [Time]. Please arrive 15 mins early to view your child's schoolwork.
Payment reminder text
School trips, lunch fees, and off-site swimming lessons are some items parents need to pay for. Chase outstanding payments with a quick standard message like this:
Dear [Parent], please be advised that you owe lunch fees of EUR 15.20 for [Student]. Pay online asap: [URL]
Problematic attendance text
Quickly alert parents if their child is absent and effectively enforce attendance policies through texting for schools.
Dear [Parent], we noticed that [Student] missed school today. Please call the office on [Number]. Note that absences due to illness must be reported by 9am.
Emergency alert/school closure text
The real power of SMS comes in when event dates and times change, or school closure occurs due to a contagion outbreak or bad weather, and you need to send out emergency notifications. Swiftly communicating this type of information is essential as parents often need to arrange alternative childcare in such cases.
SCHOOL CLOSURE: Due to unprecedented levels of snow, the school will be closed until further notice. Please check the Facebook page for updates.
Schools often need to raise funds for various purposes throughout the academic year, and a bulk SMS service is ideal for spreading the word about upcoming fundraising campaigns. Since texts are affordable (you only pay for the number of texts you send), running an SMS campaign won't make much of a dent in an already strained budget.
Dear [Parent], we need 20 new laptops for the ICT classroom. Get involved with the school fair on [Date]. Bring a friend or host a stall. Learn more: [URL]
General information or marketing text
SMS is ideal for promoting new classes or courses within educational institutions or private training companies. The world is an ever-changing place and as technology develops, so does the job market. New courses are constantly being designed to keep up with the demand for new and old skills.
Further reading: discover the critical components of a promotional text
A school SMS service can help to keep communication flowing and current. You can quickly send out texts to keep everyone informed of important happenings in school, provide updates from the board of governors, and communicate exam schedules.
The latter is key; parents are all in a fluster when exam time arrives, and they want to ensure that their kids are as well-prepared for them as possible.
Dear [Parent], on [Date], an online safety expert will visit the school to talk to students about safe social media use. Learn more in this blog: [URL].
Dear [Student], 20 extra places have been added to the lunchtime music class. If you want to get involved, sign up here: [URL]
Dear [Parent], we’ve just published our exam schedule for the summer term on the school website. See it here. [URL]
Student support text
SMS for schools can help older students directly stay in touch with their course tutors or the administration department. It can also be used to remind students of approaching deadlines for assignments or exams.
Hi [Student]. Hope you had a good first week and are finding the lesson plans achievable. If you have any questions or problems, let me know. — [Teacher]
Dear [Student]. Please contact the college admin team to discuss your course application and payment details. [Number].
Hi [Student], you didn't hand in your essay on Tuesday. Submit it ASAP to keep your coursework on track. Contact me if there's a problem. — [Teacher].
How teaching staff can benefit from SMS messages
Email can work well in a school to keep teachers informed and connected. However, there's often a need for time-sensitive or urgent information to be issued; in this case, email isn't always ideal.
Imagine that the time of a faculty meeting needs to change or a teaching training day needs to be cancelled last minute. You don't need to pick up the phone and call every staff member individually or risk an email not being seen in time. With a school SMS service, you can compose a text in minutes and deliver it virtually instantly to anyone affected.
Here are some of our templates for how SMS can be used to keep teaching staff informed.
Hi [Teacher]. After-school staff meeting has been cancelled due to headteacher being called to an emergency. Will let you know when it’s rearranged.
Hi [Supply Teacher]. We urgently need you for Year 10 Maths at 2pm, as [Teacher] is off sick. Can you fill in? Call the office on [Number] to confirm.
All teaching staff members, please be advised that the school is being inspected on Friday am. Ensure your class records and coursework are in order.
Hi [Teacher]. A reminder that parent-teacher meetings are taking place next week. Please ensure you’ve scheduled a time/date with each child’s parent(s).
School SMS service: real-life examples
Many schools are realising how SMS messaging can help engage parents, which in turn can have a positive impact on students' educational outcomes.
In a research project called 'Texting Parents', parents were informed via SMS about what their children were doing at school, whether homework was submitted on time, and dates for upcoming tests. The evaluation showed a slight improvement in maths attainment and a drop in absenteeism.
An important finding was that the intervention was highly cost-effective, at just £6 per pupil per year (based on a three-year average).
Another study by Kraft and Rogers found that texts sent weekly to parents from tutors helped prevent student dropout. This had a knock-on effect on the number of students failing to earn course credits (a decrease from 15.8% to 9.3%).
How to set up SMS for schools
To text parents, students, and faculty members, you should use a trusted platform with bulk SMS capabilities. This will allow you to upload a directory of phone numbers and send a single text to multiple recipients from your computer. Messente is one such provider. You can upload different groups of contacts and manage them through Messente's Phonebook API.
Note that you must get permission to text existing contacts, particularly regarding any SMS messages that could be construed as marketing material, such as texts about fundraising, school promotion, or teacher recruitment. An easy way to do this is to set up a sign-up form on your website and encourage people to opt in to receive texts so they can stay up to date on the latest happenings.
To encourage new sign-ups, you can display posters around the school or college building that advertises a short code that people can text to for opting in. You could include a statement such as 'Text SUB to 12345 to keep up-to-date with school news!' Something like this could also be easily promoted on social media.
The academic world is dynamic and relies on speedy two-way communication to stay with the times. Educational research has never been more intense. There are constantly new developments that schools can and need to employ if they are to see their institutions excel in what is becoming an ever-increasingly competitive market.
One way to manage communications and keep parents, students, and teachers informed and engaged is through a school SMS service. To learn why you should use Messente’s platform for your school, get in touch today. Alternatively, feel free to create a free account so you can freely explore how Messente works and see if it would be a good fit for your educational institution.