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School trials texting system to keep parents informed

23-11-2009

Irish News

Holy Trinity College in Cookstown is trialling a text message system to help it better communicate with parents.

The school has signed up to www.Teachers2Parents.com, which allows teachers to email messages directly to their mobile phones.

Teachers normally would not have the time to communicate with a large number of parents on a regular basis.

For various reasons, phone calls to parents can be unnecessarily time consuming and school reports are relatively infrequent.

Using text messaging, teachers can inform parents far more frequently; putting pupils under constant pressure. At the same time, parents can also be notified to praise their child for good progress at school.

Each text is automatically personalised to include the pupil’s name. As there is no need to type each message or any part of it, they are sent immediately with immense ease.

The facility has a data user base which restricts the number of positive or negative contacts a child’s parents receives.

Parents have embraced the system.

One called it “a superb way of keeping us up to date with our son’s progress” while another described it as “really innovative”.

“In the past, details of school events or messages delivered by post were mislaid or arrived 3 to 4 days after the event. Now we can be kept aware of information that affects our daughter almost immediately,” they said.

Principal Sean Rafferty said it had bridged the communication gap between teacher and parent, in that parents could receive texts from the school throughout the day.

In today’s busy world, he said, a quick text message could inform parents of school events, praise or celebrate positive work rate.

Parents were surveyed and 98 per cent wanted to see the system retained and thought its effectiveness was its speed.

“In the past, the college would have sent letters home regarding school events either with pupils or via mail shots,” Mr Rafferty said.

“However, in busy homes those letters either were mislaid or pupils forgot to share them with parents.

“Our parents now know, directly as a result of this service, all that is going on in the school relative to their child.”

He added that the programme also gave print-outs of messages sent and restricted use of negative or repetitive messages “so not to alienate parents or undermine the self-esteem of students”.

“Probably one of the best software packages the school has ever invested in and popular with all partners in the education process,” Mr Rafferty said.

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