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Currently looking to set this up in primary school but wondered if i could avoid a few pitfalls by asking on here
1) what should i be looking at re costs- im thinking its either unlimited texts= higher price or cheaper price plus cost per text (difficult as not sure how much wed use it as dont do it at moment!)
2) when do you use yours? have you found you use it more as it becomes established
3) has it been worthwhile
4) what are pitfalls
5) any recommendations
we use GroupCall with unlimited texts. Generally this has been very well received and is proving very useful for parents and the school.
A. Define the service you're offering to parents (governors and staff)
What I had in mind was that we would email ahead of time as this allows fuller text and attachments and to then send text reminders closer to the event/activity (or for urgent notices) as there is a limit.
SLT decided to send out a letter asking parents what their preference was for communications - text or email. Unfortunately, I can't use this preference data and it's confused parents expectations about the service.
B. Data Collection processes need to be good and it needs to be clearly defined as to who collects the data, when it's collected and who keeps it up to date. (Lots of mobile numbers change after Xmas for example).
- not all parents/carers have provided their email or mobile numbers.
- some parents who have provided email/mobile numbers are not flagged as having Parental Responsibility in SIMs and will not be contacted by GroupCall.
C. Work with the website and school newsletter. Text and email should be complementary. Keep messages short and point to the website for more info where appropriate.
D. Make use of a No Reply email address but ensure that there is a designated name for further enquiries re the message.
E. Avoid Spamming parents with every possible message. Plan what messages are to be sent when and to which target audience.
F. Build it into your Snow Day/Emergency Close procedure and school trip communications.
G. Don't forget Data Protection.
H. Format messages properly (avoid mixing fonts, font sizes etc) and check spelling/grammar before hitting the send button. Copy yourself in the message to check what parents receive.
I. Do a review of all the letters you currently send home.
thank you for that detailed reply
There is a lot to be said for looking at a '2 way' system so parents can text you, which is a usful way to reduce calls to the office at peak times, ie absence notifications etc.
Cost wise it's important to realise that not all message credits are the same. Some are routed out of the UK which may mean that delivery is slower or less reliable. UK routed messages are more expensive but are generally more reliable.
Most companies operate on a pay as you go basis so I'd be tempted to try it out and buy more credits if you need them.
Have a look at http://www.text-connect.co.uk
Hope this helps :-)
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