With the new laws on data protection – GDPR – now live, it’s no surprise that we’ve already seen a large number of schools benefitting from the SIMS Parent Lite app, which is included with schools’ annual entitlement and has been created to help with data collection and management. If you’d like to download the app now, you can do so here.
If you’ve not yet taken the plunge, don’t worry, set out below are our top tips to get started.
1. Make a plan for getting set up and on-board
You’ll need to consider a few things in regards to the technical side of getting setup with the app, most of which we looked at in detail in a previous blog.
The biggest consideration to make is whether you’re an individual school looking to get on-board or if you’re working on behalf of a number of schools as a SIMS support unit.
A real clincher when considering this is whether you have access to SIMS Service Manager, which effectively acts as a gateway between your SIMS database and the SIMS Parent Lite app. Within SIMS Service Manager you’ll need to enter the Client ID and Secret for your school, so you’ll need to be able to edit these two fields.
If you don’t have access to SIMS Service Manager, then your SIMS support unit will be able to help.
2. Get your housekeeping in order
Schools stand to benefit from making sure that the data they currently have is consistent and in a format that works into the future. Before you get started it’s worth considering what information you can provide parents and in turn what you want parents to update.
SIMS Parent Lite provides a gateway for parents to view and update key information about them. This data is sensitive so it’s worth noting the gateway is protected by key business logic to protect access. For a parent to access the data, they must have parental responsibility and be a category one or two contact in your SIMS database. In addition, and under the default setup, they would need to live at the same address as the child. However, as this isn’t always the case, we’ve introduced a new toggle in the admin side of the app that allows schools to override this and provide access to parents who might not live at the same address, making the app suitable for separated families.
3. Configure and personalise your SIMS Parent Lite app experience
There are a number of areas within the SIMS Parent Lite app data collection sheet that schools can configure via the admin portal. These are normally based on the SIMS lookups that the school uses, so I’d always recommend visiting these and keeping them up to date.
In particular, it will pay off in the long run to make sure that your lookup descriptions and codes are up to date, especially the ones that you want to be active for parents to update.
For example, areas such as medical conditions and parental consent are popular fields to be surfaced to parents – it would be well worth the time required to review these and edit those tables if required.
4. Start with a group of active and engaged parents
It’s entirely up to you as a school what kind of approach you take to getting your parents active with the app – this could be a steady drip feed of access or you could go for more of a ‘big bang’ approach and get everyone live in one go.
I’d recommend starting with an active and engaged segment of your parents to create a staggered roll out and promote a champion user base. This could be a particular group, such as parents involved in the PTA committee, or you could focus on an upcoming event, such as a parents’ evening.
Once you’ve identified the group that you want to get started with, giving them the heads up that they’re going to receive an invitation to join SIMS Parent will encourage parent uptake from the outset and in turn lead to your champion group spreading the positives of the app, which will encourage others to get involved.
In connection to the previous tip, schools will benefit from promoting their use of the app and its availability for parents. This could be via letters sent home or posters around the school site – alternatively, if your school uses parental communication tools, such as SIMS InTouch, this is also a great way to encourage parents to log in and update their details.
To help schools raise awareness, we’ve created a couple of resources to get you started. These include a template letter, which explains the app and what parents need to do to get on board, and a school poster, which highlights the key features and directs parents to places they can access the app.
In addition, don’t forget that word of mouth is always a powerful tool – once you have a few parents making use of the app, they will share their experiences with their friends and other parents, which will help your communication efforts.
You can find out more about the SIMS Parent Lite app via our dedicated product page, or you can see the app in action with our demo video. If you’d like to go ahead and start using the app for your school, contact your SIMS support unit or request access to the app direct.