Letters home - by text

6th August 2004 at 01:00
B@schl b4 12pm 2 Nrol. Gr8 cricket - 2nd 11's 123 4 2. Yr son is AWOL pls call asap.

These are the messages that could flash up on the mobile phones of parents at a Shropshire school next term as part of a policy to end correspondence by paper.

Kingsland Grange preparatory school in Shrewsbury, which charges up to pound;2,650 a term, will alert parents by text to anything from the postponement of a cricket match to their child breaking a leg.

Martin James, headteacher, believes it is a more immediate and reliable way to contact parents with news or emergencies than the traditional letter. It will also save up to pound;4,000 a year on paper costs.

He said: "Most people take their phones wherever they go and it is a symptom of the age we live in that we want immediate notifications."

The text message alert system is part of a broader scheme called In-form, devised by private firm Pupilrecords, which allows nearly all school correspondence to occur via computers.

Videos and pictures of events such as the school play or sports matches can be made available for viewing and downloading, even with no internet connection.

There are 12 private schools using the service, and one maintained school is interested, but Kingsland Grange is the first school to buy the texting facility, which costs 10p per message.

A spokesman for the National Confederation of Parent Teacher Associations said: "This scheme should be a step closer to a more effective parent-teacher relationship. It all depends on whether parents are comfortable with it and teachers feel it is an effective use of their time."

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