Frequently Asked Questions for Schools
How is SchoolAlerts.ie different from an SMS messaging service?
SchoolAlerts.ie doesn't send alerts by SMS. Instead we send your alerts to parents using smartphone apps. These are known as "push notifications" and you are more than likely familiar with them already through various chat applications such as Viber, Facebook Messenger and others.
Because push notifications do not cost us, they do not cost you either. Instead of charging for individual alerts like SMS companies would, we charge an annual flat fee for our service and you can send each message for free during the school year.
Are there any costs for the parent?
Nope. The parent will receive all alerts to their preferred app for free. The apps that we work with are also free so there are no app download costs for the parent either. Our sole business model is the flat rate fee that we charge to schools.
How can a parent register to get alerts?
Parents must register their phone number on this website, so we can verify if they are part of a school's contact list. If somebody tries to register on this site with a mobile that we do not recognise from a school's contact lists, then they will not be allowed to sign up. This decision also forms part of our GDPR Data Minimization Strategy.
Once a verified parent signs up on SchoolAlerts.ie they can log in to the site to get a unique code. By typing this code into our page on Facebook Messenger, Telegram or Viber it means we can link them up and start sending them alerts. This is a very quick process and only takes a moment for parents to complete at the start of the school year.
This is a very quick process and only takes a moment for parents to complete at the start of the school year.
Some parents do not have smartphones; can we send them an SMS text message?
The core mission of SchoolAlerts.ie is to keep school-to-parent communications as affordable as possible. Our belief is that 99.9% of parents of school-going children will own a smartphone. At the very least, one parent in a household should own a smartphone. Therefore, they should register on SchoolAlerts.ie to get alerts and messages from your school through one of the available smartphone apps.
However, if you are interested in using SMS text messages to contact parents then this is possible. SMS text messages come at a cost to us, and we pass that cost onto you. You should expect to pay somewhere around 4.5 to 5 cent + VAT per SMS text message, depending on the pricing available from the Irish phone network providers of the day. Please contact us for more information on this.
Our suggestion is that you only offer this as a last resort and all parents should be encouraged to register on SchoolAlerts.ie so they can be contacted through apps for free.
I want our school to join - how do we come on board?
You can visit the Signup Page to register your school. All you need is your Roll Number and we can join the dots from there to save you completing a long-winded registration form!
What is the "school year" for School Alerts in terms of expiry periods?
You can join whenever you want during the school year. However, our "school year" runs until July 31st each year. If a school wants to re-register for the following school year then they will need to re-subscribe around the start of August each year.
The earlier you sign up, the better value you will get. If you sign up at the start of January, then you'll only get 7 months service. So it makes sense to sign up at the start of the year :)
Is phone support available and at what times?
We are more than happy to help with any queries you have during office hours, 10am-4pm Monday-Friday (excluding public holidays. We take our holidays in tandem with the school holidays during early Summer, so there will always be someone to talk to if you have any questions during late Summer and throughout the school year.
How do we import our database of parent numbers?
Once there is a signed GDPR "Controller:Processor Agreement" in place between ourselves and the school it means we can help you import the database. We will take any Excel spreadsheet you currently have, and we can also offer guidance on how to set up the data. For example, you will need a column to define any classes that a parent should be linked to in order to receive class-only alerts.
How do I pay for the service?
Your school can pay using four methods:
- Pay online with a credit/debit card through this website after you are logged in (preferred method)
- Pay over the phone with a credit/debit card
- Pay offline by cheque/PO/draft - we can send on payment details when required
- IBAN Bank Transfer - we can send on payment details when required
Can I target alerts to classes and parents individually?
Yes, there are three options for sending alerts:
- 1. Send alerts to the entire school
- 2. Send alerts to individual classes
- 3. Send alerts to individual parents (e.g. absentee notices)
How does SchoolAlerts.ie observe GDPR and Data Protection?
The school owns the database of parent contact information, so therefore the school is the Data Controller. We are your communications service provider; therefore we are your nominated Data Processor for a defined series of tasks. We will both need to have a signed GDPR "Controller:Processor Agreement" in place before we can offer you this service. We use a standard template similar to ones we have for other alert services we provide so this saves you the challenge of preparing one.
There is no provision for SchoolAlerts.ie to store children's names in this system. We regard this as extremely high-risk data and, besides, it is not required for us to offer a solution to contact parents. From a GDPR Data Minimization perspective, we do not want to ever see this data! Keep it separate in your own in-house management system and do not share any children information with us. This is a parents-only communication service.
Do you send alerts to WhatsApp?
Unfortunately, not, and this isn't by choice. WhatsApp will only allow global brands (e.g. airlines) to send messages through its business platform. Also, any business messages sent through WhatsApp come at a relatively large cost. This is how Facebook (WhatApp's owner) monetises the messaging service. It’s also a restriction with WhatsApp business messages that messages must be structured in a very specific way that isn’t suitable for school messages.
We prefer to use app channels that are 100% free. We use leading Apps such as Facebook Messenger, Viber and Telegram that are already familiar to most parents and are completely free. If WhatsApp ever becomes more cost-effective and message templates are suitable for schools then we will revisit this.
I've an idea for a feature that isn't available... does SchoolAlerts.ie want to hear it?
YES! We offer a number of alert services to a variety of areas in Irish society and in many cases our clients offer the best suggestions. Over 300 community text alert groups use of service and they have driven this system over the years - we hope very much that you will help us improve SchoolAlerts.ie wherever possible. We work closely with all our clients so get in touch and let us know your suggestions!