App helping parents engage with schools sees usage soar during lockdown

A Liverpool-based app helping schools with parental engagement and backed by Sir Terry Leahy has seen a surge in activity during the pandemic, now boasting more than 100,000 users.

Parentapps’ PA Connect has 600 schools signed up across the country, with the award-winning comms specialist’s technology allowing parents access to the very latest from their children’s school.

Sales of Parentapps’ services, which also include building school websites, has been driven by the national lockdown and the increasing need for schools to deliver homework remotely, help children stay busy during the holidays, keep families up to date with the latest local authority advice and to survey parents’ needs as the pandemic has progressed.

Founder and chief executive Kevin Clayton said: “It has been an incredibly tough and uncertain year for schools, their staff and parents with the need for all of them to stay in touch greater than ever. Since the pandemic started we have been inundated with enquiries and we have signed up another 60 schools to help them adapt as quickly as possible to the unfolding situation.

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“As a result, we have also had to adapt, not only to demonstrate what we can offer via video conferencing, but also to ensure that we are meeting the needs of our users.

“In response to the huge requirement for home learning we have developed a homework hub, which allows teachers to log in and set work to give their pupils more structure and tailored activity. We have also been delivering weekly webinars over Zoom to help teachers understand and use the technology as quickly as possible.

“Schools have told us that more than 90% of their parents activate the app immediately, which makes the task of universal parental take up much easier, because it also shows who has not downloaded it. They can also direct parents to their school’s website for more information.

“Compare this to other forms of communication like paper or SMS messaging which sees people fall through the gaps and which costs a lot more time and money. For example, we know of schools that have printed off homework packs for every child, meaning parents have had to physically go to a school to collect a pack, risking spreading the virus, never mind being a huge and expensive undertaking for the school.

“The feedback we have had from school staff is that they couldn’t have lived without it, having struggled to stay in touch with parents at the beginning.”

Mr Clayton and his wife Hailey, who is sales director, created Parentapps in 2015 in response to finding “one too many” crumpled letters in the schoolbags of their daughters.

The company was boosted in 2018 by investment from former Tesco plc chief executive, Sir Terry and Bill Currie, an award-winning retail analyst for Barclays and Charterhouse which allowed the couple to take their technology to the next level. At the time, they had 350 schools signed up.

Mr Clayton added: “It has been a remarkable two years and the investment from Sir Terry and Bill Currie means we have been able to improve user experience, add new features and become the market leader.

“We are now about to launch the latest enhancement to the app – a booking system for parents’ evenings and school clubs and a fully integrated payment system, allowing schools to be completely cashless.

“Alongside our individualised app and websites, we also provide videography and photography for schools, making Parentapps the only one stop shop in the UK for all our customers.”

Business Live – North West

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