The ABCs of SMS for education.

Need a better way to keep students, parents, and staff in the loop about important school news? Hello, SMS.

This article has been written by Amanda Ranville Amanda Ranville wrote in industries February 9, 2024
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From absentee alerts to important all-school updates, educators are in constant communication with students, parents, and staff. There are endless emails. App notifications. Scrunched up notes in school bags.  

No wonder so many parents say “I missed that note” or “I never got the message.”

To help important messages get through, leading schools, universities, and training colleges are turning to text messages. Unlike other forms of communication, SMS cuts through — each and every time. In fact, it can boost the response rate to school admin requests by 88%

What is SMS for education?

Schools and educational institutions use SMS as a quick and easy way to stay in touch with members of the school community — both for one-to-one communication and bulk messaging out to everyone.   

For example, a school administrator could use SMS to send a quick reminder to a parent who hasn’t signed an excursion form, or to schedule parent-teacher interviews. A teacher could send a message to remind students about an upcoming text or exam. Or, they could send a quick progress update to a parent. 

Here are some of the most common ways SMS gets used in education: 

  • Bulk SMS alerts and notifications to whole-school communities 
  • Two-way conversations with parents and/or students 
  • Enrolment and fee reminders 
  • Registrations and recruitment updates 

Want to take SMS for a spin?

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Why SMS get gold stars in education.

Given that over 20 million Australians own a phone, it’s a safe bet that parents and caregivers in your school community can receive text messages from you.  

And, in fact, they want to. The next generation of school parents (here’s looking at you, millennials) barely check voicemail, and 75% prefer text to talking. Today’s school kids (hey, Gen Zs) prefer texting, too, with 67% ‘rarely’ or ‘never’ using email to talk to family or friends. 

Better yet, SMS is fast. It’s cheap. And it’s oh-so-effective in getting important messages across. By using text messages in your school, you can:

Get messages out fast.

95% of text messages are sent within two seconds, giving you the confidence that important messages will be received in an instant.  

This immediacy can be critical in a school setting — particularly if there’s an emergency or unexpected change to the regular schedule. For example, the school may need to close on a day of extreme bushfire risk. Or a school bus may break down, affecting all the students on that route. 

In moments like these, you need the assurance that critical messages are seen by all those potentially affected. And SMS delivers.

Free up teachers’ time.

Teachers just want to teach. They don’t want to be chasing Charlie about an unexplained absence, or harrassing Harry about his homework. The more effective a school’s communications strategy is, the less time teachers spend on menial tasks like these. 

And SMS is highly effective. Teachers can have quick, two-way conversations with students or their parents — and get the answers they need much faster than if they were to pick up the phone and call, or wait for an email response.

Lighten the admin load.

At the front office of any school, the admin team is always juggling a million jobs. From calling parents about little Sadie’s forgotten lunchbox, to chasing up enrolments and fees, the tasks can feel endless.  

SMS helps reduce the administrative load with intelligent and automated workflows, bulk SMS, and direct conversational messaging. It means your admin staff can be more productive and tick off all the other important tasks on their to-do lists.

Keep everyone in the loop, or not.

By managing all your messaging from a purpose-built SaaS solution, you can easily build contact lists for different teams or departments within your school or college.  

For example, you could update contact records with notes or assign conversations to other team members. In a flexible working environment like an educational insitution, with staff coming and going, it’s a great way to make sure messages still get through. 

Sometimes, though, your staff don’t need to know about every single message that comes through. To enable this, you can create subaccounts for each teacher, so they can manage their own student communication independently of others.

“Graduates tell us that if it wasn’t for those text messages, they wouldn’t be here today.”

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Top tips for using SMS in education.

The report card is in. SMS gets an A+ in education for its easy ability to get the right messages to the right people, at the right time. Question is, how can your school or education institution start reaping its benefits? 

Keep the following tips in mind when getting started with SMS.

1. Steer clear of spam.

As an organisation sending messages out to ‘customers’, you’ll need to follow the rules of the Spam Act 2003.  

Under Australian law, you’re not allowed to send marketing messages to people unless you have their consent. In education, for example, this could be a promotion about an upcoming course that a student might like to enrol in.  

Before you send such messages, get your students’ and (when applicable) parents’ consent. Then, make sure to include:  

  • Your business name 
  • Your contact details 
  • An easy way to unsubscribe 

If you don’t follow the rules, your messages could be flagged as spam, potentially leading to costly audits or suspension of your messaging campaigns. 

Learn more about Australia’s spam rules.

2. Personalise your messages.

Want to make every student feel like a star and build stronger rapport with members of your school community? Personalising your messages is the way to go — simply include their name, the course or subject they’re enrolled in, and any other specifics that are helpful to the text message. You can even use custom merge fields to personalise bulk messages to each student. 

To build even stronger relationships, encourage your school community to use SMS to communicate. With two-way texting, students, parents, and even staff can respond to texts — which is great for things like booking parent-teacher interviews and following up on student enquiries.

3. Stick to boundaries with automated workflows.

Yes, SMS is great for anytime, anywhere communication. But the last thing you want is for teachers to get burnt out from a constant barrage of ‘pings’ from stressed students trying to finish homework late at night. Likewise, you don’t want parents thinking your school’s slack when noone responds to their question (sent at 9pm) about tomorrow morning’s music concert. 

To avoid situations like these, establish boundaries with SMS. Make it clear to students and parents when text messages will be responded to, and by whom. You could also set up a simple automated response for OOO messages to assure them it will be followed up on the next school day.

4. Use a mobile app for more streamlined SMS.

With our mobile app, it’s easier than ever for your teachers to stay in touch with the school community. They can use their mobile phone to send work-related messages from the app (using the school phone number), while keeping their personal messaging separate.

The mobile app gives teachers more flexibility. They could send out a bulk message from their computer before class, and then get on with teaching away from the computer — knowing they can handle replies on the fly from the mobile app.

5. Power up your existing platforms.

If you use a student management system or learning platform, then you should definitely look at integrating SMS into that platform. This way, there’s no need to train staff how to use a new tool — instead, it’s all contained in the familiar platform they already know.

Plus, it keeps everything centralised, with easy access to past conversations with students and parents. 

Check out our existing integrations, or if you have a question about a specific platform your school uses, reach out to see how it could play nicely with ours.

Text templates to help you hit the ground running. 

Use these ready-to-go templates as a starting point, and adapt them to suit the needs of your business.

Enrolment confirmation.

TEMPLATE: Hi [Name], congratulations. You have been enrolled in [Course], which starts on [Date]. For course information, including timetable and class locations, please visit [Link]. 

Information session.

TEMPLATE: Hi [Name], interested in studying abroad? Attend our information session on [Date] to learn about our exciting exchange programs and international opportunities. Reply YES to RSVP. Hope to see you there. 

Faculty recruitment.

TEMPLATE: Hi [Name], we are looking for qualified faculty members to join [University/Institution]. If you have expertise in [Field], we invite you to apply. Visit [Link] for more information. 

Ceremony details.

TEMPLATE: Congratulations, Class of [Year]. We are delighted to announce the details for your upcoming graduation ceremony. The event will be held on [Date] at [Venue]. Please RSVP by [Deadline] to save your spot.

Event invite.

TEMPLATE: Hi [Name], save the date. Our annual [Event] will take place on [Date]. Can’t wait to see you there.

Critical event or school closure.

TEMPLATE: IMPORTANT message from [School]. Due to the extreme fire risk predicted for tomorrow, the school will be closed for the day. Stay safe and contact [Emergency services] for more information.


TEMPLATE: Dear parent or guardian, there are still [AMOUNT] spots available for our after-school [PROGRAM TYPE]. Tap here to register: [URL]

Alumni networking event.

TEMPLATE: Calling all alumni. Join us for a special networking event on [Date]. Connect with fellow graduates, expand your professional network, and explore potential career opportunities. Reply YES to RSVP.

Parent-teacher interview reminder.

TEMPLATE: Hi [Name], this is a reminder of your appointment with [Teacher] at [Time] on [Date]. Please call [Phone number] if you need to reschedule.

Grade results.

TEMPLATE: Hi [Name], your final grades for [Course] are now available. To view them, log in to your student portal here: [Link]

Absentee note.

TEMPLATE: Hi [Name], [Student] was marked as absent this morning. Please reply ‘Y’ to confirm and log in to the school portal to provide an explanation: [Link]

FAQs for using SMS in schools.

In schools, universities, TAFEs, and other colleges, SMS can be used for a variety of use cases — such as important updates, notifications, event reminders, emergency alerts, personalised messages, surveys, or the promotion of new courses.

It’s also a great tool to facilitate communication between teachers, students and parents, and to streamline admin processes.
Using SMS, you can send personalised messages, study tips, and reminders for important deadlines or events straight to a student’s mobile phone. It creates a direct line of communication that encourages students to stay connected and actively participate.
You sure can. Whether you’re sending a message to one student or the whole school community, give every single message the personal touch.

With our platform, you can customise messages with recipient names, course-specific information, or personalised content based on student profiles — which in turn delivers a more tailored and engaging communication experience.

Personalisation also helps make it clear to the recipient that your text isn’t fraudulent.
Connect SMS to your existing tech stack for easy automation of key workflows like sending fee reminders, enrolment notifications, class schedules, library due date reminders, and other admin updates. This helps reduce manual effort, freeing up your admin’s team time to focus on other value-adding tasks.
You can, although this may have some limitations. Instead, we recommend choosing a new dedicated number that enables two-way messaging and other features.
To avoid sending spam, you must:
  • Have consent from the person receiving your messages.
  • Identify yourself as the sender by including your name or business, as well as your contact details.
  • Make it easy to unsubscribe – every commercial message must contain an unsubscribe option.
*This is general information only, not legal advice. You should obtain your own legal advice about anti-spam laws.

Ready to roll?

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