Communication is fundamental to effective partnerships with parents. In the past, messages from school have relied heavily on ‘pupil post’, but this has always been inconsistent and is now, quite frankly, a bit old hat. These days, there are many mediums teachers can use to communicate with parents, including websites, group emails, text messages, Facebook and Twitter. The more recent addition to this list is the smartphone app, which has the potential to make information even more accessible to parents who place a premium on convenience.
One feature-rich option that’s gaining momentum is available from Jigsaw School Apps; and it’s an attractive offering for those looking to keep in touch with a smartphone-reliant generation. When in use, the Jigsaw app frees up school administration by allowing you to share relevant and accurate information (both photos and text) in a timely manner through the use of ‘push’ notifications. It’s an immediate, anywhere and safe form of communication that gives parents an important sense of control and ownership.
I love the option Jigsaw provides to create a branded app with your choice of colours, logo and photo. It creates a powerful identity and gives the school presence. You can also customise the app by creating additional areas and it’s a flexible experience for parents, too, as they can apply filters that ensure only information that’s relevant to their child is displayed. An uncomplicated control panel makes updates a simple task, which means there’s no need to get in touch with the people at Jigsaw every time you want to make a change to the app.
Keeping all parties abreast of the school’s (often changing) schedule can be one of the biggest logistical headaches, but again the Jigsaw app is ably to simplify this task as important dates and details can be listed and easily downloaded to the calendar on parents’ phones.
What about diversity and inclusion? If your class is multi-lingual, how do you reach out to parents who don’t speak English or use it as a second language? Well, Jigsaw has addressed this admirably by allowing parents to automatically translate information into any one of 70+ languages. It’s a big plus and, as far as I’m aware, Jigsaw is the only app provider to offer this service.
The two-way survey is another feature to get excited about. This allows you to quickly and easily set up questionnaires and thus get rapid feedback on how parents are feeling about a particular issue. What’s particularly great about this is that responses are displayed as a bar chart in the app’s control panel – that and you end up with a wider range of feedback as responding to surverys is so convenient. Parents will also love the ‘connect’ feature, which allows them call or email the school, view directions and access the website with just one-touch. Communication has never been easier.
The app is a quick, reliable and convenient channel of communication – not just for parents and carers, but other stakeholders such as staff, governors and the PTA. It’s also more secure and reliable than voicemail, text and email messages – or, for that matter, notes that probably don’t even reach a school bag. A subscription costs from £400 per annum, which I’d say is a fair price for a product that will cause a buzz among parents.
Additional features are currently in development and will be released at a later date. These include a photo gallery, absence reporting, permission slips, a booking system for parents’ evenings, and integration with websites and digital signage.
Buy into a Jigsaw app and you will certainly be sending out a positive message: that your school has its finger on the pulse and is up to speed with the latest technology. Within a year, I think you’ll be hard pressed to find a school that isn’t thinking about using a school app, and not just because it’s fashionable. It serves a real purpose.
Jigsaw School Apps offer an exciting, fresh and relevant resource that has the potential to bring parents and schools closer together. The app is available on iPhone, Android and Windows, so all bases are covered. If you think it might work for your school, you can see how you get on by signing up for a free app build and a no-obligation trial.