We are very excited to be part of this term’s School News magazine. It includes an interview with our company CEO and Co-Founder, Melissa Bridson as well as a case study of Kiwitahi School – the first school in New Zealand to adopt our app during our recent launch into the country!
Given that today’s new entrants were born into a world awash with apps, it makes perfect sense that their parents expect to communicate via app. School Stream is an app designed specifically to keep schools and families in easy contact. Parents can connect directly with the school via their mobile device to view event details, RSVP, and add to calendar. They can also lodge permission slips and absentee notes electronically, receive emergency alerts and newsletters.
One of the more critical improvements it brings is being able to send out urgent messages which is something we needed, especially if there was ever an incident involving the students’ safety.
“People with school age children fall into the highest demographic of mobile app users, says company CEO Melissa Bridson. “Time spent on a smartphone continues to grow and is now higher than any other digital device.”
Schools using the app report big increases in parent engagement with 98 per cent of all push notifications being read, not least because the app translates into 109 different languages, including Maori, Tongan and Samoan. Schools can use built in categories or customise their own, and the app integrates with existing technology to provide parents with mobile access to student management systems, parents portals, online canteens and uniform shops.
Parents can download School Stream for free from Apple or Google, and select streams relevant to them through the “custom categories” function. The school pays a license fee based on the number of students.
“Schools can expect to save a significant amount of time and money when they transition to the School Stream communication platform,” says Ms Bridson. “Digital talk is cheap. No paper, no printing, no postage. The average school spends between $30,000-$50,000 per year on paper alone. The cost of printing a weekly newsletter for 500 pupils clocks in at around $20,000 per year. Wouldn’t it be great to reallocate some of this budget into another area of school resources?
“Schools which use the School Stream app have completely phased out, or are working towards phasing out printed newsletters as communication via the app becomes the primary method of reaching parents. This is an obvious fit, with parents making up the largest demographic of smartphone users.”
School Stream has just been launched into New Zealand after operating in Australian schools for the past three years. It has more than 75,000 users with 98 per cent of Schools renewing their subscription annually.
Case Study From Kiwitahi School
Kiwitahi School in the Waikato is the first school in New Zealand to sign up for School Stream and school administrator Pip Labao says it’s turned out to be everything they were hoping for. “We were looking for a solution to lost notices, and going paperless with notifications, permissions and absences – and we’ve found it. It is replacing our system of paper notices and newsletters and the saving in time is considerable as we are not having to repeat information to those whose notices have been lost or missed.”
The school, which has a roll of 27, spent $199 on initial set up costs and it has been a simple process. “It was extremely easy to get started, we have great support from School Stream and our parents love it. Communication is much improved now.
“One of the more critical improvements it brings is being able to send out urgent messages which is something we needed, especially if there was ever an incident involving the students’ safety.”