Time to bin the schoolbag run and go digital in school communications

The Improvement Service’s Martin Brown and SEEMiS’s Danny Gallagher reveal how digital transformation can help communications with parents and help schools and councils focus resources at the chalkface.

Generations of Scottish children have acted as mini-messengers, couriering literally millions of notes between schools and their parents.

This has been done via the “schoolbag run”, when sometimes important information has been entrusted for delivery after being crumpled in beside jotters, PE kits and the remains of today’s packed lunch.

This is not a good way to communicate. Who knows how many letters have been lost or how many appointment sheets have gone unfilled?  Fortunately, the solution is close at hand.

We at the Improvement Service (IS) and SEEMiS are ready to help drag these communications into the 21st century. By using  digital technology we can make life easier for the parents of Scotland’s 680,000 schoolchildren – while also reducing the administrative burden on schools.

We are about to launch the Parents Portal (parentsportal.scot). It has been developed by our two organisations because the Improvement Service’s key role is to help councils and their partners improve opportunities for people, while SEEMiS is the nation’s leading education information management provider, and is committed to improving the products that are available to support schools.

The new Parents Portal will not only help schools and parents communicate, it will also make those communications more efficient, so more resource and time can be spent on frontline education.

We know from a series of focus groups that parents want the convenience of conducting this type of business with schools online, and that they want it accessible on one site.  This will also help both schools and local authorities maximise the services they can deliver from within their budgets.

We are delighted to report that the first phase is ready to go live.  At the heart of the system is a secure online account which links each parent and carer to their child and their education.  The first phase will offer up an initial tranche of online services, including placing request.

Looking further into the future, we foresee this portal could also be the place that parents and guardians can manage their nursery and child minder bookings, utilising their funded early learning and childcare accounts.

North Lanarkshire Council and West Lothian Council are among the trailblazers who are serving as early adopters as we prepare for the launch of the first phases of parentsportal.scot.  Further plans are being progressed to extend the range of online services that will be available, including a digitalised annual data check and reporting absences.

We are confident that in a very short period of time we will all regard this type of online communication as the norm… and we’ll laugh as we recall the old-time reliance on the “schoolbag run”.

For more information on this exciting development in education communications, and how it might benefit your organisation, go to: https://parentsportal.scot

Photo Credit: amazon009 Flickr via Compfight cc

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