“School Stream app sends message to parents”
Tessa van der Riet
Melissa Bridson used to rummage inside her daughter’s school bag trying to find newsletters, which were “often covered in yoghurt”. Then there were those school drop-off moments when her daughter would pipe up from the back seat that she’d forgotten to pass on a note about a school excursion that day.
Parents with similar memories are are probably squirming right about now.
With instant communication now the norm, Melissa was sure there was a better way for schools to keep parents in the know.
The Melbourne woman, now living in Byron Bay, spent last year developing an app she hopes will revolutionise the way in which schools communicate, and save them time and money in the process.
The School Stream app allows schools to instantaneously update parents on school events and excursions, share school newsletters, and send out digital permission slips that alert parents if they’re not filled out. These and other functions appear under customisable menus.
“Everything else is changing in life: business, governments,” Melissa says. “I just wanted to create that opportunity for schools … so they had the same access to real-time communication.”
School Stream lets parents use the same app if they have children at different schools, and more than one family member can download the app – meaning that separated parents, or grandparents who take care of the kids on weekdays aren’t left out of the loop.
After launching in early February, the app is now being licensed in 30 schools across Australia.
Inquiries have also come from the US, Thailand, Spain and Britain, with School Stream soon to be trialled in some London schools.
“It’s happening at a rate I couldn’t have possibly imagined,” Melissa says.
A career moment Melissa says will never be matched happened when she was contacted by her former school, Preshil in Kew, completely out of the blue, because they wanted to trial her product.
Preshil School’s director of communications, Bronte Howell, had no idea Melissa was a former student and had spent many months searching for a better way to communicate with parents before finding School Stream.
“This came along and it was like a prayer. It just has everything in one,” she says.
Bronte says unlike other apps she looked at, she’s not doing any extra work to publish information on School Stream. “The app sits inside our website and literally I just press a button that says ‘send this to the app.'”
Preshil parent Cressida Batterham-Wilson is relieved that the day of the notice being sent home with students is drawing to a close.
She likes that there’s a direct point of communication. “Parents want something that’s quick in turnaround,” she says.
Gail McHardy from Parents Victoria says she hopes the costings are transparent and that schools taking on the app will properly research whether it’s something parents actually want.
“We would advise schools with any of these products and services that they touch base with their parent community,” Ms McHardy says.
A Department of Education spokesman says that “smartphone apps are increasingly popular at schools – making it easier to send and receive important information, cutting down on printing costs”.
The small but growing team at School Stream believe they’ve created something workable and the constantly ringing phones in their Byron Bay office are a good sign.
“Once people know about the product, there’s not a lot of thought,” Melissa says. And everyone knows that when an app gets a good reputation, it really does go global.
Link to article: https://goo.gl/2o4wnD