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How a School SMS Service Benefits Parents, Pupils and Staff

  BONUS MATERIAL: The Psychology of SMS Marketing

Managing communications is a substantial undertaking for any educational establishment. Parents, students and teaching staff need to keep connected about a wide range of matters, such as pupil progress, teacher training, school events and more. While there are several ways to communicate with these groups, a school SMS service is ideal when you need to ensure important information is distributed and seen.

Benefits of using SMS 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 SMS, even the education sector.

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 can often go unread - in the education and training sector, the average open rate is just 23.42%.

Printed letters given to young students to take home can often get thrown away by mistake or left in a school bag 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.

SMS is a very direct and reliable channel. Everyone that owns a mobile phone has access to text messages and can receive them wherever they are, through the native messaging app on their phone, even if they’re not connected to the internet. 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 screen. SMS is often used for marketing purposes for this reason.

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.

Managing communications is a substantial undertaking for any educational establishment. Parents, students and teaching staff need to keep connected about a wide range of matters, such as pupil progress, teacher training, school events and more. While there are several ways to communicate with these groups, a school SMS service is ideal when you need to ensure important information is distributed and seen.

Using a school SMS service to text parents and students


Schools can use an SMS service to keep parents updated about parent-teacher meetings, payment reminders, pupil attendance, last-minute school closures, fundraising events, new class promotion, and more. Texts can be personalised easily to make them more impactful. Here are some specific examples:


Parent-teacher meeting confirmation

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 if parents don’t show up on time, the entire schedule can be affected. Send meeting confirmations out by text to help the schedule run smoothly.

Dear [Parent], just to confirm you’ll be meeting [Teacher] on [Date] at [Time]. Please arrive 15 mins before to view your child’s schoolwork.


Payment reminder

School trips, lunch fees and off-site swimming lessons are just some of the items parents need to pay for. Chase outstanding payments with a quick text 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 reinforce attendance policies through a school SMS service.

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.

Missing attendance school SMS notification

Emergency alert/school closure text

The real power of SMS comes in when dates and times change, or school closure occurs due to bad weather or a pandemic. Communicating this type of information speedily is essential as parents often need to arrange alternative childcare in this case.

SCHOOL CLOSURE: due to unprecedented levels of snow, the school will be closed until further notice. Please check the Facebook page for updates.

Fundraising text

Schools often need to generate their funds, and a school SMS service is ideal for spreading the word about upcoming fundraising campaigns. Because texts are affordable (you only pay for the number of texts you send), running a 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 a school, college or private training company. 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 skills. There are even courses on eLearning for digital marketing that will show you how to utilise SMS promotion.


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 times arrive, and they want to make sure that their kids are as well-prepared for them as can be.

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

A school SMS service can help older students directly stay in touch with their course tutors or the administration department.

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, from [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, from [Teacher].

How teaching staff can benefit from a school SMS service

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, and in this case, email isn’t always ideal.

Imagine that the time of a staff 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 have it delivered virtually instantly to anyone affected.

Here are some examples of 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.

Teacher SMS notification example

All teaching staff, 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 text 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 by SMS about what their children were doing at school, whether homework was submitted on time and about dates for upcoming tests. The evaluation showed a slight improvement in maths attainment and a decrease 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 a school SMS service

To text parents, students and teachers, you should use a trusted SMS platform with bulk messaging 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 messages that could be construed as marketing. So, fundraising, school promotion, teacher recruitment, etc. An easy way to do this is to set up a signup form on your website and encourage people to opt-in to receive texts.

To get new contacts onto your database, you can display posters around the school or college building that advertises a code that people can text to opt-in. You could include a statement like ‘Text 12345 to keep up-to-date with school news!’ Something like this could also be easily promoted on social media.

Conclusion

The education world is dynamic, and it relies on speedy communication to stay with the times. Educational research has never been more intense. It seems as though there are constantly new developments that schools can and need to employ if they are to see their schools excel in what is becoming an ever-increasing 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, create a free account to explore how Messente works.

Taavi Rebane
2021-04-20 00:00:00 UTC
2251220