Thursday, 3 November 2016

Apps Central awarded 5 Star certification by the largest Education App Store in the UK

Apps Central has been awarded the highest certification (5 star) by The Educational App Store:

The Educational App Store is a discovery marketplace for the best education apps - which in itself is a very interesting resource for you, your colleagues, parents, and pupils.

Our app has been independently assessed by teachers and, frankly, received a glowing 600-word report:

Request a preview of your school's app today.

Sunday, 23 October 2016

Day Nursery App on QA Nursery

Day Nursery App from Apps Central was featured on QA Nursery magazines website. The piece focuses on Lisa Bennet, managing director of Cherrytrees Nurseries. 

"Lisa Bennet, managing director of the four Cherrytrees Nurseries sites in Scotland, explains the nursery-to-parent communications challenges they faced and how Apps Central’s Day Nursery App improved engagement.

About the Nurseries

Cherrytrees Nurseries was formed in 2000, with its first nursery in Melrose in the Scottish Borders. Three more followed, in Dunbar, Edinburgh and Hawick. These four geographically diverse sites currently provide childcare to over 700 children.

Cherrytrees Nurseries have been awarded either ‘Good’ or ‘Very Good’ in their latest Care Inspectorate reports.

The Challenges

Communication with parents is vital in a nursery setting. Our main challenge was to share information as quickly as possible - from dietary requirements and rescheduled activities through to the latest news on our teddy bears’ picnic and Lego building on a trip to the museum.

Although we publish four newsletters a year, post notices in the classroom and email parents, a number of factors can create communication problems. These include a change of circumstances at home, a change of email account, different carers picking up children, and so on.

The Solution

We worked with Apps Central, creators of the Day Nursery App, and soon had the perfect real-time solution to meet our needs.  It had the functionality we were looking for and the image we wanted to project in terms of our branding. The costings were good and it is a really professional product.  The app went live in our Edinburgh nursery in May 2014, the rest of the group followed in November that same year.

Using Apps Central’s Day Nursery App, we can now send out a weekly update on each nursery room with photographs included. One of the biggest benefits of this is that parents can use our app to see what their child has had for lunch! The benefit for us is that this avoids complaints about duplicating meals!

Our apps are particularly useful to us because some of our nurseries are in rural areas. If we experience a power cut and loss of telephone systems, for example, we can access the app management centre from another site and post a message to update parents. Last year our Hawick nursery was evacuated because of floods that were affecting the region. The Hawick app enabled us to inform the parents that their children were safe and had been moved to a nearby sports centre.

We have had approximately 420 Apple downloads and 240 Android downloads so far, that equates to 75-80% of our families utilising it.

The Sunday Herald - The Appiest Days of our lives

Apps Central was featured in the Sunday Herald. The piece focused on how Apps Central is transforming school communications and boosting parental engagement.

"A Perth-based pioneer of calendar-based apps that transform school communications and boost parental engagement, is eyeing rapid growth after winning scores of high-profile contracts in its first full year of trading.

The Apps Central school app has also won praise from the Welsh schools minister Huw Lewis, who said that the adoption in economically disadvantaged Ebbw Vale: "Will improve engagement between the school, pupils, parents and the wider community and improve the life chances of our learners."

Saturday, 15 October 2016

Windmill Primary Case Study

Andy Howe, deputy head at Windmill Primary School, Oxford, reviews the challenges of school/home communications and how his school further improved parental engagement.

About the school

Windmill Primary School in Headington, Oxford, is a large primary school with a pupil roll of 570 in a very mixed catchment area.
In June 2015 the school was judged Outstanding by Ofsted who said: “The head teacher, extremely well supported by all governors and staff, leads a school where ‘Achievement through Community, Creativity and Challenge’ is the vision.”

The challenge

The main challenge was to communicate with all parents, to encourage them to attend events such as school plays and carol concerts and to enter into the life of the school.

We used to send out weekly newsletters, but because parents would often forget dates and times before the event we started to send reminders on social media and to interact via Facebook and Twitter.

This worked well but we felt it was not a good real-time solution for communicating with parents. Teachers could never be sure that parents would log into Facebook at the right time which could result in them missing important updates, for example about a school trip.

Texting was never a realistic option. It is inefficient and cumbersome. The cost of sending messages to mobile phones can be very expensive. Some companies charge 6p a message so we were not willing to go down that route.

In 2013 we sent out a survey and the overwhelming result was that parents would prefer an app.

The solution

We worked with Apps Central, creator of the School Calendar and News App and soon had the perfect solution to meet our needs. It had the functionality we were looking for and the image we wanted to project. The costings were good and it was a really professional product. The app went live in October 2014.

Enabling real-time notification of important matters such as trips and activities, it is an ideal way to send frequent reminders to parents. We also use social media to drive the message home. The results speak for themselves as we now have better and larger attendance of school events.

There have been 500 downloads so far: 330 have been for Apple and 174 for Android. Although in some cases both parents of a child will have downloaded the app, I estimate the school has achieved 70% to 75% coverage. The school hopes to extend coverage and sends out reminders in the printed newsletter which we still send out.

On average there is a message every other school day. It links with social media so generally, I will write a post for Facebook which is automatically replicated on Twitter and then as a news story on the app.


Parents approve of the app and say it’s easy to download. They like being connected and feel they are communicating better with school.

The messenger function on Apps Central’s School Calendar and News App has been particularly useful for real-time communication and the school can target messages at specific groups – for example, they can send a message to say that a coach returning Year 4 pupils from a school trip is going to be 15 minutes late so parents do not need to rush into school.

The app has a pin number which is sent out in a newsletter so staff can ensure that only parents and people closely connected with the school have access to the calendar of events and activities. This gives an extra layer of security which is very reassuring for parents.

While I cannot put a figure on savings, I know that the school is spending less on photocopying. We are also saving time because a simple short reminder on the app reaches most parents, replacing the need to send letters. The app is easy for staff to use and Apps Central populates a basic calendar with events and key dates at the beginning of each school year which can quickly be amended and edited to suit changing circumstances.

It is an all-in-one solution. Apps Central offers a fast professional service and the app has proved perfect for our needs.

To receive a preview of your school’s branded app visit

What is Parental Engagement?

Increasing parental engagement is a key OFSTED objective for all schools and a school calendar and news app is the perfect way to increase parental engagement. In this blog, we will detail what parental engagement is, why it’s important to both and how Apps Central can help your school increase parental engagement.

What is parental engagement?

Parental engagement refers to all activities that parents do to help their children succeed in school and life. It evolved everything from making sure to preparing them for school every day, to attending parent meetings and keeping up to date with what’s going on in the school.

  • Ensures parents actually get school messages. – Instead of parents missing texts or not receiving letters, a calendar and news app makes it easy to send push notifications straight to the app.
  • School Events are added to parents personal calendars – A School calendar and news app enable parents to add school events (such as parents evenings) to their personal calendars – which is a proven way to increase attendance. 
  • Engage those “hard to reach” parents – many of the schools who have adopted a calendar & news app so far have used the app to start forging those crucial relationships with parents that have traditionally not played an active role in their child’s education. 

Benefits of Parental Engagement?

Parental engagement has a large and positive impact on children’s learning. In a recent review of parental engagement by the Department of Education, it was found that parental engagement has a “significant positive effect on children’s achievement and adjustment even after all other factors shaping attainment have been taken out of the equation”.

How a School Calendar & News App can help?

An Apps Central School Calendar & News App can help increase parental engagement within your school in a variety of ways.  Do you want to find out more about how a school calendar & news app can help transform parental engagement in your school? Visit or call Chris Brads on 01738 646 760.