Scotland Education and children's services

Transforming school communication with digital technology

Image by utroja0 from Pixabay

In 2018 the Improvement Service and SEEMiS revealed their plan for digital transformation – which was  to reuse current assets (mygovscot myaccount and SEEMiS) and utilise digital technology to make a tangible difference for parents of Scotland’s 690,000 schoolchildren. This would be done by transforming the way parents and schools communicate – using direct digital communication to replace the outdated method of communicating by transporting pieces of paper in schoolbags.

This will provide secure access for parents to a wide range of online services and information about their child’s education.  As well as improving communication, transforming this approach could also help make efficiencies and savings which could be better spent on the bread and butter of frontline education.

This idea resulted in one product – parentsportal.scot.

parentsportal.scot is a joint vision, enabling and creating a digital relationship between parents, pupils and schools. It has been developed by the Improvement Service, whose key role is to help councils and their partners improve opportunities for people, and SEEMiS, Local Government’s education information management provider, which is committed to improving the products that are available to support schools.

So who is doing what?

  • The Improvement Service is responsible for the design, build, operation and ongoing support of parentsportal.scot
  • SEEMiS is responsible for provisioning education-related data to feed to and from parentsportal.scot
  • And, myaccount is parentsportal.scot’s authentication mechanism. parentsportal.scot forms part of IS’sDigital Public Services portfolio of products and services.

Both organisations committed to develop a roadmap of services which would be made available to local authorities to choose from. These  included services such as Placing Request, View Timetable, View Report Card, View Attendance, Report Absence, Online Permission Slips, Parents Evening Bookings and Annual Data Check.

After engaging with a series of focus groups we know that parents want the convenience of interacting with their child’s school online, and that they want these services accessible on one site – they don’t want to be delving into the depths of their child’s schoolbag on a daily basis.

A number of benefits can be gained from parentsportal.scot for both local authorities and schools.

parentsportal.scot could provide a range of benefits and savings, including:

  • Saving the planet: 4.6 million sheets of paper could be saved annually by issuing report cards online; cash and cheque transactions are 3 times more expensive to process than online transactions; 2 million sheets of paper could be saved each year by online annual data check alone.
  • Saving time: 30,000 placing requests submitted annually currently involve a heavy administrative burden; parentsportal.scot helps streamline this process.
  • Saving money: Paper, printing and postage all cost money.

After all the hard work, the first phase has gone live. West Lothian Council, one of the early adopters, recently launched parentsportal.scot in its schools in the Linlithgow area with plans to roll out to other schools throughout June.

parentsportal.scot contains an initial basket of services for parents to access, with plans to add more services throughout the coming weeks and months.

The parents can access parentsportal.scot by using their mygovscot myaccount to sign in. (mygovscot myaccount is the secure and easy way to access public services online in Scotland.)  mygovscot myaccount is the same login many parents will already use to login to access council services.

Looking further into the future, we envisage that parentsportal.scot could also be the place that parents and guardians can manage their nursery and child minder bookings, utilising their funded early learning and childcare accounts.

We are confident that in a very short period of time we will all regard this type of online communication as the norm.

For more information on this exciting development in education communications, and how it might benefit your organisation, you can contact the parentsportal.scot team at digitalpublicservices@improvementservice.org.uk