Top Tips!

Each week we’ll bring you new Top Tips to help you get the most from your ParentMail account!

Make sure you come back every Friday to see our latest tips!

Going Cashless! (Week 13)

With a socially inclusive online payment system like ParentMail, parents can pay in a way that suits them, which increases take up – for example, the option to pay on their mobile app, through their computer or paying through PayPal, which allows parents to pay securely and conveniently simply by entering a password. If you’re looking to go cashless, take a look at our latest Top Tips article on the blog… Click Here!

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Improving parent uptake! (Week 12)

Many of our schools have over 95% of parents registered and regularly using ParentMail; we’ve spoken to some to find out their top tips for making ParentMail a success! Click Here!

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Finding Help (Week 11)

1. Did you find the help site helpful?

It’s great to see so many of you using the help site to find the answers to your queries. To ensure we’re giving you the information you need, we’ve added a new feature to every page on the help site called “Did you find what you were looking for?” Let us know if you found what you were looking for or if you were expecting information on a topic which isn’t there. Thank you in advance for your feedback!

Did you find what you were looking for

2. Helping Parents 

As well as a dedicated section on your help site for helping parents, there is also a help site specifically for parents to find answer to their queries, which we recommend you share with them: https://www.parentmail.co.uk/help/parenthelp

3. Guided Tours

Have you tried our Guided Tours? They’re a great, interactive way to learn how to use the applications showing you step by step whilst you’re on the site. These are perfect for new members of staff or colleagues who want to learn the basics. To play them, simply login to your account and select Guided Tours. Please note, you can only play Guided Tours for applications you have active.

4. Speaking to our Support Team

For queries which are too long to type out on Live Chat, simply open a conversation and request a telephone call back. We’ll then call you back to discuss!

5. Feedback?

Don’t forget, if you ever have feedback for the ParentMail Team you can reach us on feedback@parentmail.co.uk

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General (Week 10)

1. Spellcheck

This is something you can do within your browser! Simply type out your message and look out for any words which have the red squiggly line underneath. Right click, and the browser will suggest similar words. If you can’t see the red lines appearing, it may be that you don’t have spellcheck switched on – you can update this within your browser settings.

Spelling Checker

2. A master copy of emails and forms

To do this, simply write out your message and before sending, click ‘Preview Paper Copy’ which will download the email or form as a PDF with no names on it. Please note, page 1 of the downloads will show your paper copy parents, page 2 will show the document.

Tip: Once the message has been sent, you will not be able to preview the paper copy. 


3. Staying logged in to ParentMail for longer

To do this, simply go to the login screen of ParentMail and change the “Keep me logged in for” drop down box to longer than it currently is. As long as your machine stays on and the browser is not closed, this should now keep you logged in for this length of time.

Keep me logged in

4. Speaking to our Support Team

For queries which are too long to type out on Live Chat, simply open a conversation and request a telephone call back. We’ll then call you back to discuss!

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Helping Parents (Week 9)

1. Letting parents know you’re using ParentMail

We recommend you send a letter to parents letting them know that you’ll be using ParentMail to communicate with them from now on. Please find below our available template letters:

Letter to parents – Text and Email only
Letter to parents – All applications
Letter to Parents – Upgrade from ParentMail 1 to PMX

We also have template letters for you to use if you would like to let parents know that you will be using Online Payments or Parents Evening Manager:

Letter to parents – Online Payments 
Letter to parents – Parents Evening Manager

2. What do parents see when they log in to ParentMail?

This is what the parent feed on the web view looks like. At the top is the message of the day, which ParentMail set to keep parents informed of website updates or the latest ParentMail news.

Parent Feed

Across the top toolbar parents will be able to access “Guided Tours”, the help site, view their notifications or change their personal settings.

The parent feed shows the list of available applications the school are using. The example above shows a school that is using all available applications. If the school have sent parents a new message, they will receive a notification on the right hand side. They will also receive an email, or a notification if they are using the App.

Home-screen

On the App, parents will have a menu of all the applications available and, as above, if you have sent them a message this will appear as a badge next to that application name.

For any specific help on viewing messages, completing forms or viewing events, please visit the parent help site which has further information.

3. Can staff use the App and see what parents see?

Schools often tell us they’d like to see what parents can see if they’re using the ParentMail App! Unfortunately, staff cannot use the App as adding all that functionality into such a small screen would make life very complicated!

However, we know that sometimes when parents come to you with queries, it would be helpful for you to see what they can see.

To do this, all you need to do is set yourself up a test child so you can login as a parent and see exactly what your parents see. To do this, simply create a “fake” child on your ParentMail account and connect this child to your account – you’ll then be able to login and view the parent feed. Make sure you include this child in your emails/forms etc so that you have communications to view!

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Payments (Week 8)

1. Archiving Payment Items

Use the new archive feature to remove items from your payment items list, ensuring that no further payments can be made towards this item. You can still view the item when it’s archived to check payment history and run reports. Bear in mind that any outstanding orders for the item need to be either Completed or Cancelled using the ‘View Orders’ page before it will allow you to archive the item.

2. What are the Payment Settings and when should I use them?

When creating your payment item, if you are unsure of what a setting does, simply hover your mouse over the setting and you will get a description of what it does. Make sure you are using the right settings to tailor the item to your needs.

3. Setting up trips 

If you are making a trip on ParentMail there may be certain settings you wish to use. If the price of the trip is, for example, £500, then it may be that you want to use instalments for this. You could put the deposit as the top instalment and make it non-refundable and breakdown the further payments monthly. Please be aware that parents can choose to pay all the instalments at one time but this will be useful for those parents that may not wish to. Instalments also allows you to set a due date and reminder dates for each instalment you set.

You could also use ‘Stock Quantity’ to limit the number of places on the trip, for example, everyone in Year 9 might have the chance to go on the trip but there might only be 30 places, so you would put 30 in the stock quantity.

You could also use the ‘Allow Waiting List’ function for parents to register their interest once the stock has run out, just in case someone else on the trip can no longer go.

 

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Communications (Week 7)

  1. Send per student with personalisation

Have you used the ‘Send per student with personlisation’ option yet? This will show the student name in the subject title, which means parents will be able to see which child the message is about even before they open the message!

  1. What is Economy mode and why should I use it?

Economy mode is a great way to reduce costs, allowing you to reach parents without using your text credits to do so! When creating an SMS message, simply select the Economy mode option, and it will send an email to all those with an email address on the system, and a text message to those who don’t.

Please note: If your message is urgent we recommend you use SMS without Economy mode to guarantee instant delivery.

  1. Regularly sending messages to the same group of people?

If you have a group of students whose parents you contact often, who are particularly involved with something in school, for example a homework group or an after school club or even PTA information, we recommend you build these students into a group, so that you don’t need to manually pick them from the contact book every time!

You can find information about creating a new group here  and once your group has been created, you can simply select them from the contact book:

Creating a specialist group

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Registers (Week 6)

1. Collecting dinner money 

+Pay works for schools with and without cashless catering systems. For schools with cashless catering: +Pay integrates with all the main cashless systems so parents can top-up dinner money online.

Schools without cashless catering have access to a built in Dinner Register which can be used to record meals taken each day.

If you’re using +Pay and would like access to the Registers or Cashless Catering functionality, or if you’re not using +Pay on ParentMail yet but you’d like to, simply email enquire@parentmail.co.uk and we’ll be in touch to get you set up!

2. Getting parents to top up 

Parents will receive an email notification to top up their balance as soon as the Register is saved following set up so we recommend that you only set up your Register when you are ready to start using it. A minimum balance reminder can be set and as soon as the balance falls below the minimum selected, parents will receive a reminder – then going forward reminded again at the frequency set from the drop down. This means you don’t need to remember to remind parents to top up, as ParentMail will do it for you!

Don’t forget, parents can top up in seconds through the mobile App, which means they’re far more likely to keep on top of it and not let it drop to empty!

3. Price bands 

We understand that you may have different charges for your dinners, depending on whether you provide free school meals or if you have staff that pay for school dinners. Creating price bands on your Register couldn’t be easier, and you can move users into different price bands as and when you need to. Please note, if you do want to move a user into a new price band, changes must be made before awarding dinners; if the change is made after a dinner has been awarded then the new price band is in effect from the following day.

A benefit of having multiple price bands (even for the same price) can be for your reporting. When running the ‘Register Price Bands’ report you will get the numbers of dinners taken broken down per price band. An example would be where schools need to differentiate between ‘Universal Free School Meals’ and ‘Free School Meals’.

4. Checking a student’s Register history 

You are able to check over a student’s history on their Register account, this will show you the date and time that they had: the register taken, any top ups made by the parent and any balance adjustments made. This is helpful should you have any queries on a student’s balance.

You would find this by going to Registers > Register Activity, locating the user you wish to check, then click on to their ‘Balance’ which will display in blue.

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Parents Evening Manager (Week 5)

1. Getting parents registered

Your parents will need to have registered with ParentMail before they can book their appointment slots, so before you set up your parents evening make sure you let parents know how to register in advance. We have a template letter which we’d recommend you send to parents so that they know how and why to register!

2. Manual bookings for those not registered

Once your evening has gone live, within Documents to Print > PEM you will find a ‘Students without verified contacts’ document which will show you a list of students whose parents are not registered who therefore cannot book appointments online. You will need to contact these parents so that you can manually book in their appointments for them.

3. Set up your evening in advance 

When creating your parents’ evening, we advise setting the booking window to open in the future (rather than straight away!) so that you can do some spot checks, for example ensuring you have the correct teachers assigned to the right classes. Doing this will also allow you to block out slots as unavailable if you would like to put in breaks for teachers, before parents book them up!

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Communications (Week 4)

1.Send per family and Send to primary contacts only – what’s the difference?

The ‘Send per family’ option on emails will only stop duplicate emails going to parents with multiple children selected for the email. To send to one contact, for example mum but not dad, you will need to use the ‘Send to primary contacts only’ option.

2. Attachments 

If you are sending an attachment, we would recommend you save the file as a PDF rather than as a Word document. Due to formatting of Word documents, these can often be very large files and therefore will be over the 10 Mb limit. By changing the file to a PDF it means it will be smaller in memory size and means your parents are unable to edit the document. To do this, simply click Save As on your file and select PDF.

3. Read receipts through the mobile App

Encourage the use of the App with parents so that when you check the recipients of an email you get the read receipts showing the date/time the parent opened the message on the app – if parents simply check their emails, you will not be able to see this information.

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Forms (Week 3)

1. Save your forms as templates!

If you’ve created a form, make sure you save it as a template before you send it, just in case you want to use it again in the future. Once the form has been sent, you won’t be able to save it, so make it a rule: Save as template, then send!

2. Where are my reports?

You’ll find your forms reports within the Forms tab, under Actions, with 3 reports available on 3 separate pages:

  • All responses submitted for this form
  • List of people yet to respond
  • Statistics related to responses for this form

3. What does maximum replies mean?

When sending your form, the maximum replies setting refers to the total amount of replies to the form, not the amount of replies per student. Each student can only have one response. You may use this setting if you are sending a form for a first come first served basis, where you may, for example, send a form to your entire year group but only the first 50 who reply will get the space on the trip.

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Parent Uptake (Week 2)

1. Have a ParentMail evening

If you’re hoping to get more parents signed up to ParentMail, why not hold an evening where you show parents the benefits of having their own ParentMail account and how to register? Once registered, you can advise them how to download the App too and answer any questions they might have. You can use our promotional materials and if you think of anything further that could help, simply contact us here at ParentMail and we’ll do our best to help…

2. Are you using the launch checklist?

Our launch checklist has been created to help new schools in the first few weeks – however, if you’re still struggling to get parents registered, simply download our launch checklist and see which of the steps you’d like to try!

3. Set ParentMail as homework

Some schools hold class or year group competitions,  to see who can have the most parents register in a time frame! In assembly, you can show your students how registration works and then ask them to go home and get mum and dad set up! They can even help parents download the App for extra bonus points! Once you get your students involved, you’ll soon see your parent registration shoot up!

4. Check your data! 

If parents share an email address or mobile number, they won’t both be able to register, so make sure all your parents have unique information on your ParentMail account so that they can get set up with no problems!

*Extra Tip! * The parent help site

Don’t forget the parent help site is updated regularly with our most common FAQ’s from parents, so if your parents need help, simply send them this link: https://www.parentmail.co.uk/help/parenthelp/#

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Payments (Week 1)

1. Due Dates and Purchase Windows

If you create an item in payments with only a ‘Due Date’, the item will be available immediately in the shop, but will become unavailable as soon as the due date is reached.

If you wants parents to be able to pay after the due date has passed, you’ll need to enable a ‘Purchase Window’. This setting gives you total control over when the item appears, and in turn disappears from the shop for all users.

You can also use the Purchase Window to close down an item that has been created in error, simply set the window to close a minute or two ahead of the current time and save the item. A few minutes later, the item will not be available to purchase any longer.

Please note, while the Due Date and Purchase Window will expire the item once the end date passes, any parent that has made a Part Payment for the item will still be able to access their order to complete their purchase.

2. Setting up a test child 

We recommend that you set yourself up a test child so that when creating new payment items you can send a test to yourself first and make sure you’re happy with all the settings! If you need helping adding a student, simply click here and follow the instructions on your help site. Don’t forget to connect your test child to your account – you’ll then have access to a parent account as well as your staff account.

Once you’ve created your test child, you will also be able to log into the App and see how the Payment Item appears – this may be useful if your parents have any questions as you will be able to see exactly what they see!

3. Encourage parents to save their card details for instant payments

We’ve added the functionality for parents to save their card details, so that when they make a payment they simply press a button (and don’t have to enter all those numbers every time!) This makes it the quickest way for your parents to pay for something – and means cheaper transaction costs than PayPal or PayCash for your school!

Fun Fact: We’ve tested how quickly you can make a payment with a stored card, and it’s less than 10 seconds!!!

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