St Matthew's Collegiate School students have been swift to take up a smartphone app that aims to revolutionise the way parents, teachers and pupils stay in touch.
Natalie Finnigan, Trinity Schools communications manager, said the School Apps NZ snApp Mobile software was rolled out at the Masterton school in the final week of last term and already this term there had been about 300 downloads of the app, which is compatible with iOS and Android cell phone operating systems.
The intuitive app features unlimited push notifications, a list of vital school contacts, click to call or email absentee reports, integration with the Kamar school administration, markbook and reports calendar and notices, and group alerts that allow parents to select activities for which their child will be alerted.
The home screen of the app was customised for St Matthew's and features the school crest and an image of the Centennial Shield sculpture by leading Kiwi artist Virginia King that was created to help commemorate the school centenary in 2013.
"There's been an amazingly fast uptake of the app, especially among students. They are really excited about it because it's just so much more convenient for them. It's a seamless synch with the software we were already using to drive the school administration," Ms Finnigan said.
"It means the parents can get what they need without having to wade through everything else and gives alerts about the activities their kids are involved in, straight to their phones."
Parents and students will still be able to access all of the content featured on the app, such as notices and the calendar, via their Kamar portal, according to the school website, so those who do not wish to use the app or do not have smartphones can still get the information.
Ms Finnigan said the alert capability was an easy anddirect way for students and parents to get updates about sports and cultural practices, events, trips and other activities.
She said Rathkeale College was also considering a range of similar digital options explored in a communications survey, the results of which were yet to be analysed.
Alison Penn, assistant principal at St Matthew's Collegiate School, said the software was a digital hub the students and their parents had at their fingertips that was especially useful for Year 12 and 13 students who travelled to Rathkeale College for their senior college classes.
"It means we can integrate all our notices and helps our girls to be self-managing on both sites. We have a lot of activities for our senior girls on the Rathkeale site that they need to be aware of and it also means our parents can subscribe and get updates and alerts.
"It's integrated everything. All our school events and calendars are on there, which can be linked to your phone for alerts. All our newsletters are uploaded to there each week. It's a central place for all our communication that is right there in your hand on your smartphone."
She said there had already been positive feedback from students and parents about the user-friendly system and "there were now no excuses for them not turning up and being in the right place at the right time," she said.
"There are quite a few school apps out there but this was the simplest and something you can use without signing your life away.
"There are a few schools in Wairarapa moving the same way - Greytown School and Carterton School - but for secondary schools, it would be silly not to," she said.