A BRADFORD school is using the latest phone technology to improve engagement with the parents of its pupils.

Staff at St John’s Church of England Primary School in Bierley found that many parents admitted they didn’t always read school emails, or even check text messages from the school.

However, they did regularly check apps on their phones.

The school decided to use apps to develop a new way of communicating with parents, but not just about things like snow days and school trips.

Parents are now getting daily updates with information including what pupils are reading in school and what the topics of their latest classes are.

The school hopes that the move will boost children’s learning by getting their parents more involved.

The school uses Piota, a customisable app for schools, and out of 500 pupils, just 45 have asked to keep receiving information by letter.

Chris Burton, assistant head teacher and ICT development teacher, said: “Our school is located in a deprived part of the city and therefore to a certain extent, finding a way of engaging with parents was particularly important to us.

“While parental communication systems are generally associated with updating families with administrative issues such as the dates of parents’ evening, inviting their children on school trips, or requesting dinner money, we also wanted something that would encourage parents to get involved in their child’s development.

“We knew that if we could keep them updated on a daily basis about the topic in each class, the books they were reading and any new area of focus in maths, for example, the parents could help to consolidate this learning at home.”

The roll-out was started with Year 2 and Year 3 parents. Adoption went well and the only complaints the school received were from the other parents, who also wanted access. This led to the app being rolled out for all parents.

On the first Friday of having the app, letters were sent out to encourage people to download it and 30 downloads were completed that night. By the end of the summer all year groups were using it except the nursery.

Mr Burton added: “Like most parental communication systems, we use it for numerous administrative tasks: collecting club applications, consent for trips, reminders about parents’ evening or outlining the kit needed for PE the next day.

“But aside from this important level of communication, we wanted to get our parents involved in their child’s learning.

“We are certainly achieving a higher level of parental engagement, saving money and of course, saving time. While we haven’t yet calculated the cost savings you only have to consider the cost of our office staff’s time printing off 500 letters, let alone the cost of toner cartridge and paper; the savings are considerable.

“When children have been on a trip we send a survey out to parents finding out what they enjoyed and what could be improved. It’s all about having a conversation with our parents. Inviting parents into their child’s learning and giving them the tools to support their development is something that is hard to measure but is welcomed by everyone.”