The Comms module is based around your students' contact details, as well as staff email and mobile information on their profile. It gives you the ability to choose individuals or selected groups to send information out to via email, SMS/Parents App message or letters. You are also able to generate a basic student label from this area.
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Upon loading the communications module via Admin > Comms you will be presented with the Contact List. The first step is to select the person(s) you wish to send a message or letter to.
Note: if selecting both staff and students for a message, and student dynamic fields are used in the message, the message may fail reach all recipients. This is due to staff not having an equivalent for the dynamic fields on their profile. To ensure the message is received, avoid using dynamic fields if the message is to be sent to both staff and students.
The contact list is the means by which you identify the students and therefore the contacts you wish to communicate with. From various options on the left hand side you can choose whether to look for staff or student contact details.
For students, you can choose individuals from the Student Search drop down box or you can choose groups of pupils from the various available options including Year, Form, Club or Dynamic Groups. You can expand sections such as 'Year Groups' by clicking on them.
Once you have selected the group of interest by clicking on it, you can then either add all of the students or click on individual students. Once chosen they will appear on the right hand side along with their listed contacts.
You can remove individuals from the list by clicking on the red cross.
You can then choose which contact order(s) you wish to send the text/app message, email or letter to by ticking the box(es) next to the chosen contact(s). Scholarpack will default to Contact 1, and ticks the box to prevent multiple messages to the same contact.
For the parents app, you can filter by app status. It will default to All Contacts by app status, but you can select an alternative option from the drop-down if required.
Note: when sending a message via SMS & App, any contact set up for the parents app will receive an app message, and any contact not on the app will receive an SMS. For both you will need to ensure there is a current mobile number on the student contact's details and that they are set up as Yes for Allow Contact by App and SMS.
If you want to clear all the students from the list, use the 'Clear All' function or if you had multiple forms or year groups selected and wish to delete whole year groups, these can be removed from the Include list.
You can create groups of students, for example for visits. The first stage is to generate the list of students by choosing them from the student search bar and once you have your group of students , select 'Save Group'. Give the list a unique name and save it. You can also update an existing group.
Note: Updating an existing group will erase the old group and save the current list you have selected. If you wish to add students to an existing group, then select the students already in that group, individually choose additional students to join this group, then save by clicking Save Group, choosing that group's name, and Update.
SMS & App
To send text messages or App messages from Comms you must first select the intended recipients. This is done by selecting from the Contact List as above.
Once recipients have been selected click on the SMS & App tab at the top of the page. The box underneath the SMS & App tab will tell you how many texts & App messages are going to be sent.
Type your message in the large text box (up to 160 characters), adding in any of the Dynamic Fields by clicking on them. You can then preview the message for a certain student by selecting them from the 'Preview SMS for' dropdown.
Once you have composed your text you can then either 'Send message' or 'Save as Template'. If sending an App message, you have the option to tick a box allowing App users to reply to the message.
Any templates you save will appear on the right hand side of the screen. You can 'Use' or delete these by clicking on the corresponding link.
Note: If you type a SMS/App message that exceeds the maximum 160 character limit the Send message button will be greyed out and the message cannot be sent.
If you wish to send a message that exceeds 160 characters, you are advised to send as one or more messages, with an indication in the message that is not a complete message (e.g. "1 of 2", "2 of 2"). Or you could opt to send an email instead.
To check on any sent SMS/App messages, you can click on the Logs tab.
To send emails from Comms you must first select the intended recipients. This can be done from the Contact List as above or you can email directly.
Next, add an Email Subject and then in the box below write and format your email message.
You can add attachments by clicking on the corresponding blue button. If you wish to save your message as a template, click onto the 'Templates' button and save. You can insert previously saved templates from here if needed.
To email recipients not listed in ScholarPack as a contact (e.g. a school governor or your school office email address to receive a copy for your records), after clicking on the Email tab, you may type into the 'Email Directly' field. Multiple email addresses are to be separated by a comma and space. A popup will notify you how many additional email addresses the message will be sent to.
Once you have composed your message click 'Send Email'. A pop up box will appear to inform you how many emails are about to be sent. Click OK and a confirmation pop up will tell you that the email has been sent.
To check back on any emails that have been sent you can click into the Logs tab.
Emails with attachments
If you are sending an email with an attachment, then move to another Comms tab, and later return to the email tab, you will receive the following pop up message:
This is to ensure you are careful with the contacts you have selected as well as the attachment in place. To prevent any GDPR breaches, it is recommended to check both the contacts (Contact List tab will show you those selected) and attachments prior to clicking send for any new email. Once an email has been sent, it cannot be retracted, and you cannot check what the attachment was. If you select No at this point, then the attachment will be removed.
It is advised when sending an email with a sensitive attachment, that the office email address is entered into the 'Email Directly' box, so you have evidence of the email text and attachment.
To send letters from Comms you must first select the intended recipients. This can be done from the Contact List as above. Click onto the Letters tab at the top of the page. Dynamic Fields can be added from the options available above the letter area, for example add student first name. surname, student form etc.
Once you have typed, formatted and added Dynamic Fields to the content area, choose Print Letter.
This will merge the letter for all chosen recipients which can then be exported as a Word document using the blue icon on the top right of the screen under the search bar.
Saving a template from a Word Document
To insert a template from a Word document you will need to highlight the text you would like to copy, and click CTRL and C. Then, in Comms, select the letter tab and click the Paste from Word icon (under the arrows on the left side).
Once you have selected this icon another window will appear. This window will allow you to paste the selected text by using CTRL and V into the text box then Insert.
Once back to the main body of the letter You can make adjustments before adding the dynamic fields if necessary in the main formatting window.
*The best method for pasting documents from Word is to use the paste keyboard shortcut (CTRL and V) - certain browsers will not allow the user to paste text using the mouse.
To save this template you will need to click the 'Templates' tab in the main text box window at the top, once you have selected this you will be presented with two buttons. Clicking 'Save Template' allows you to give the template a name, category and a brief description.
Loading a Template
To load a saved template click on the 'Templates' tab above the text box window and choose Insert Template. Your saved templates will be listed here. If necessary you can also delete templates in this area.
To generate labels within Comms you must first select the intended recipients. This can be done from the Contact List as above. Clicking on the Labels tab will generate preset labels for the chosen contacts which are automatically downloaded into a 'Word' file at the bottom left hand side of the screen. These are formatted in the following way:
Parent/Guardian of: Student
Within the Comms area labels are not editable, however once exported they can be amended in Word. If you wish to create your own customisable labels this can be done through Reporting > Reports > Student Labels. Click Student Labels for more information.
Once emails or sms/app messages have been sent, the Logs area keeps a record of the date and time the message was sent and by whom, the subject and content of the message and importantly, the status of the message whether it has been sent or failed to send.
There are a number of reasons why a message may fail, examples being an invalid number, a service provider blocking messages or parents and contacts having ended contracts or having changed their mobile number without keeping the school updated.
You can filter this area to view just SMS & App, or Email only messages.
There is a column to mark if an attachment was sent, but you will not be able to view the exact attachment. Clicking on the number in a column enables you to view the SMS/App or email recipients the message was sent to.
Note: You will not be able to view if a contact has received, or read, an email, only that it was sent. If a contact informs you that they have not been receiving school emails, please contact email@example.com. It may be that the contact marked the emails as spam or their mailbox is full (so it bounced). In both instances no future emails will be sent to that recipient. The Support Team can remove the suppression on their email address.
With App messages, within Admin > Parents App > Manage Access, if you select the student's year group and look at the particular contact's details, you can see if they have any unread messages (and when they last accessed the app). Ensure they have their App notifications switched on, so that they are alerted to new messages being received.
In order to track the amount of SMS and Email's sent by your school, you can click on the Usage tab. Here you can filter to check by SMS or Email. It will default to the academic year to date, but you can change the date range. The total number of messages sent to staff and students is displayed, and if you click on View you have a weekly breakdown of messages sent per week.
The graph can be downloaded (as PNG, JPEG or PDF) and printed by clicking on the three horizontal lines to the right.