In 2018, even the most reluctant of those who haven’t grown up in the digital age, a.k.a. digital immigrants, are using mobiles and a range of apps for everything from entertainment, food delivery, shopping, and  ride-sharing, to music, news, and weather. In fact, as of 2017, 88% of all Australians owned a smartphone and that figure is growing. With most schools eschewing paper as smart technology permeates all aspects of our lives and sustainable schools become the norm, it is increasingly likely your local school will be using an app to facilitate communication between parents and teachers. Meanwhile, the quiet achievers of the education world, administration staff, are using school communication apps to great effect to save time, money and resources.

One Victorian based school Business Manager spoke of the benefits her school experienced when they streamlined their communications and began migrating administrative processes like newsletters, payments, parent teaching evenings and school camps to an all-in-one communication system:

The bus returning the students to school after the Year 6 camp was running late. Previously, we would have spent all of Friday afternoon fielding at least 60 phone calls from parents asking what time to pick their children up. Things like that used to tie up the whole office. Instead, we sent out a notification on the app and it was all dealt with in about one minute! In fact, the entire administrative end of the camp was organised via the app, using a combination of digital signatures, permission slips and payment options. And we did not have to chase up a single parent!

An app also makes it easy to ensure everyone has the same information – ‘one version of the truth’ – especially when there are Non-English Speaking Background families in the school community. As of the most recent census, one in five Australians speak a language other than English at home and cultural differences may also mean there are different expectations around things like permission slips and paying for excursions. A translation feature on the school communication app ensures the administration staff can keep everyone in the loop.

School apps are not only supporting admin staff to increase efficiency, but they can also cut down on resource use. The cost of distributing an A4 notice is $0.15, (this covers paper, ink and toner), and despite an overall move away from printing, some schools still print at least 1000 sheets of paper per student each year. In an average school of 300 students, this really adds up. So, using an app to support a paper-free office is a great outcome for both the budget and the environment.

But it is the way a completely integrated system alleviates the need for a text messaging service that really sees the savings kick in. Since 2014, Byron Bay Public School has sent approximately 930,000 notifications via School Stream to its parent community. This would have cost $102,300 in the best-case scenario using a texting service. In contrast, the cost of using School Stream was only 2.68% of that figure. You can read more about how the school saved $130,000 using the app and download a case study here.

Empowering administration staff and school business managers by giving them the right tools to do their jobs means they can be more efficient, make real savings in the budget and feel great about doing their jobs.

What are your thoughts? How has mobile technology made your life at work more efficient or easier?

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