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Councils ‘use radio most’ for school closure message but why not use texting?

Article sourced from BBC News

Scotland’s councils rely most on radio bulletins and word-of-mouth to let parents know schools are closed due to bad weather, BBC Scotland has found.

The news website asked all 32 local authorities what policies they used to get the message across.

Of the 31 which responded, all said they used local radio bulletins and 15 said parents’ passing on the news to other parents was also key. But new technology is being used with 17 on Twitter and 13 sending e-mails.

The school closure communication policies of most of Scotland’s councils were tested this week following relentless snow falls and freezing temperatures. Thousands of pupils at hundreds of schools have been away from the classroom for three days or more.

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SMileS Customer Case Study: Colne Valley Specialist Arts College

Like most schools, Colne Valley Specialist Arts College traditionally relied on letters or emergency notices to communicate school news. However, these methods were unreliable and time consuming. The school turned to SMileS to improve communication with parents, guardians and staff. The system is used for external communication to inform parents of any closures due to bad weather, school trip reminders, report reminders and internal communication for example, to arrange staff meetings.

“Our school has around 1,450 students plus 150 staff and associates. Text messaging is the best way to contact such a large audience quickly and easily. A huge advantage, and a vital part of our disaster planning strategy, is the ability to access SMileS service from any internet-enabled computer. We also needed something in place quickly and SMileS was up and running within 48-hours,” said Judith Franklin, associate head, Colne Valley Specialist Arts College.

Since SMileS was introduced, the school’s communication with parents, guardians and staff has improved beyond recognition. It now sends news, events and parent review reminders by text. Collecting mobile numbers for the database proved relatively easy. Many parents and guardians voluntarily updated their details as the text messaging benefits became obvious. Text messaging has drastically reduced post, phone and associated staff time costs. It’s allowed the school to fund the SMileS texting system from existing budgets.

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