A Suffolk Park-based designer and single parent has collaborated with St Finbarr’s Primary School to produce a smartphone app that keeps parents connected with schools.
It’s a locally developed invention that is set to improve communication between education institutions and parents across the nation.
School Stream’s co-inventor Melissa Bridson told The Echo, ‘The inspiration came from my own frustrations with the communication process of passing papers from student to parent and the number of times those papers went missing and caused some last-minute problem’.
‘From minor hassles like desperately trying to hunt down the newsletter only to find it in the bottom of my daughter’s school bag covered in squashed grapes and yoghurt, to real inconveniences like driving across the Shire to attend a school function only to find it’s been cancelled or moved.
St Finbarr’s involved
‘At other times access to instant information was more vital and I needed it outside of school hours, like whether to put my daughter on the school bus or keep her home because of local flooding.
‘It was not the fault of the school – their communication systems are outdated and staff are busy. I realised that schools needed a better way to communicate, preferably instantly, with their school community,’ says Ms Bridson.
St Finbarr’s Primary School has been extensively involved in the trials, and principal John Wilson says parents have responded positively.
‘We established a website at the same time, and any update to the website is streamed live to the app. We can let parents know their kids are running late after an excursion, and promote activities and learning in a manner that’s timely and digestible.
‘We’re up to about one-third of parents now and I think we’ll get to 75 per cent quickly.’ Wilson believes the technology has enormous potential. ‘In the future, we could be streaming videos of classroom activities to parents, or sending online homework projects,’ he said.
‘Meanwhile, we also need to teach kids how to keep a balance with technology instead of spending their lives in front of a screen.’
School Stream is currently being integrated into public and private school communities from Tweed Heads to Melbourne.
‘The cost averages $3 per student per annum, and the time savings for parents and teachers are enormous,’ says Ms Bridson. Information and a free trial of the app is available at www.schoolstream.com.au.