A couple of weeks ago, a child of mine went to his first morning class and then disappeared. The school office were notified and nearly two hours later, they sent me a text by Groupcall. This child is struggling at school and finding it hard to get through some days.
Groupcall is the messaging system used up schools up here in Aberdeen. There are about 2,500 schools using it in the UK and Europe, so it’s influence is growing.
It was co-funded by Sir Bob Geldof and essentially is for general and emergency communication between a school and its parents and provides solutions for education, public and private sectors.
Our local authority has now allowed Groupcall unlimited for all schools.
I wholly approve of increased communications between home and school, and I have had notifications of both good and bad behaviour in school, as well as new news items and reminders of special days at schools.
Essentially, it’s used to text parents snippets of news about the school, their children and any other communications parents want to send home.
The idea is to improve parental engagement and lower costs, but there really does need to be more local authority input into HOW these messaging systems are used.
It’s a good thing used properly, but it should NEVER take the place of the person to person telephone call in some situations in my opinion.
What about when it goes wrong?
- What about a school using it as a way to send a message to a parent or guardian that a child is missing?
- What about the parents who don’t even get that text, and don’t find out their child was missing for hours until another parent contacts them?
- What about the parents who are bombarded with so many texts that they just begin to ignore them?
I’ve listened to the arguments of improving parent / school contact, but I don’t believe that if a child is missing, a parent should be told by groupcall text only.
I’ve been told by my local secondary school here in Aberdeen that it is local authority procedure to report a child missing from school by text.
Yes, I know a text suits some people and not others, and strangely, males seem to be happier with the chance of a text than women, but I am one major techy nerd and I think Groupcall alone just doesn’t cut the mustard in notifying parents.
I have also been told that as the kids who were missing from school weren’t usually skivers, that they hadn’t been flagged up as a problem when they went missing. I’d have thought the opposite should have applied, but that’s just my parenting expectations it seems.
Some people said they’d be happier with a text. Well whatddya know, your kid is missing for hours, but don’t worry, it can wait until your next tea break.
If a child is missing and it’s not usual behaviour – it’s an EMERGENCY in my opinion.
Shame on the schools devolving their duty of care to kids by delegating it to a text that may or may not arrive.