Build part 1 - Checking your settings before sending communications

Begin, Build, Boost

You're at Build, the second step in your school's journey to getting the most out of communications in Arbor!

This Build step is split into two parts. In this first part we will look at setting up your communication areas. In the second part we'll then send communications and see what has been sent.



Before you begin using communications in Arbor, check your settings so everything is sent from the right place to the right people.

How long will it take?

  • Add school contact details - 2 minutes
  • Check permissions - 10 minutes
  • Check permitted senders - 10 minutes
  • Add templates - 5 minutes per template
  • Top up SMS credits - 10 minutes (time to be added to system may vary)
  • Check SMS settings - 5 minutes
  • Check roles and signatures - 10 minutes
  • Check In-app settings - 10 minutes
  • Check contact details - 30 minutes
  • Check linked students and guardians - 30 minutes
  • Switch on Parent Portal - See estimates here: Switching on Parent Portal
  • Set up DMARC or adding an SPF Record - 10 minutes (time to be added to system may vary)


Make sure communications can be sent

To send Mail Merge communications as themselves, the school or others, staff will need to have the right permissions and be a Permitted Sender.

Step 1 - Check your school has an email address and phone number logged

If staff will be sending SMS or emails on behalf of your school, your school needs to have an email address and phone number logged.

Certain system emails are also sent from your school's email address, such as:

Make sure your school has an email address listed on the School > School Details page. This is the email address that automatic communications are sent from.


Step 2 - Check staff permissions

Staff will need to have the right permissions to be able to send communications from different areas of Arbor. Here are the permissions needed to do each action:

  • Send to students on a club or trip or to their guardians - Extracurricular: Send Communications
  • Send to students or send to guardians from Communications > New Mail Merge - Communications: Administer
  • Send from the lesson dashboard or other pages where you can choose which individuals to message using the bulk actions - Send and administer school communications: Administer
  • View all school communications and see replies to SMS and In-app messages - View school Communications: View
  • Access the All School Communications comms log page, but you can only see communications sent and received about Trips - Extra Curricular: Send Communications All/Assigned Students
  • Complete any other communication setup - Send and administer school communications: Administer

Not sure which permission is needed? Go to School > Users & Security > Permissions and press your Ctrl+F (Windows) or Cmd+F (Mac) keys to search the page! You can then click the permission to see who has this permission.



For example, only those shown in Permissions > View School Communications > Users will be able to see replies in the All School Communications section.

To allow more people to send and view communications, you can either give them another business role or give them an ad-hoc permission.


Step 3 - Check staff are permitted senders

To send different communications, as themselves, the school or others, staff will need to be a Permitted Sender of the communication type they want to send. To check the settings, go to School > Communications > Setup > Permitted Senders Setup.

Here you can see and edit who can send each type of communication. To see how to do this, see this article.



Please note that even if someone is not a permitted sender and does not have communication permissions, they may still be able to send communications in some areas in Arbor. For example, following up with guardians from the Absentees By Date or Quick Follow-Up page. We recommend training your school on which methods your school is allowed to use.


Setting up your communication types

Set up templates

Check all the communication templates you want to use have been set up using this article.

You can add templates you want to use frequently or tweak the preset templates used for features that send out messages like Attendance Follow-Up, Behaviour Incident Workflows and Sending exam timetables.


You can also add pre-set headers and footers for letters here.

Top up your credits

While emails are free to send, there is a small processing fee for SMS. To keep costs down for schools, messages are pre-purchased in bundles of SMS Credits. The larger the credit bundle, the cheaper each credit becomes.

Top up your SMS credits in Arbor to be able to send text messages from the School > Communications > Setup > SMS Billing page. To see how to top up, click here: SMS Billing

Check your SMS settings

Once you've topped up your credits, set the signature that'll appear at the bottom of texts from School > Communications > Setup > SMS Settings. Try to keep this as short as possible to ensure texts cost as few credits as possible.

You can also choose to notify a member of staff in Arbor when there is a reply to an SMS message.


Check staff roles

The role written on a staff member's contract determines what role shows for them in their signature when sending an email. 

Check that all staff have the right job title set on their contracts using these instructions


Get staff to add a written signature

Ask staff to log in and upload their personal written signature they can use as a merge field from My items > My account to insert as a merge field in emails. Full details here.


Check your in-app message settings

Use in-app messages to communicate with guardians. You can see full details on how to manage them here.

Please note that In-app Messages are included in our Comms or Perform packages as you'll need to have set up the Parent Portal and Parent App to use them. Want to upgrade or find out what package you’re on? Just get in contact with your Account Manager.

Check your settings from School > Communications > Setup > In-app Message Settings, where you can choose whether to allow guardians to reply to in-app messages, who should be notified and how, and whether to automatically send follow-up emails or SMS to unread in-app messages.




Make sure the right people will receive the communications

Check contact details

Make sure guardians and staff members have an email address (this is also their username for logging in). You can update emails from School > Data > Data Quality Dashboard > Contact details or use our Bulk import student, guardian or staff email addresses feature. Make sure their main email address is marked as the default on their profile.

Add a phone number to their profile so you can send SMS to them.


Check guardian-student relationships

Make sure the right guardians are Primary Guardians - they’ll receive comms such as attendance follow-ups and detention emails. Double-check each guardian is linked to all of their children to be able to switch between them on the Parent Portal or Parent App.

Sometimes if a guardian had another child who used to attend, there may be duplicate profiles for them. Make sure you merge or delete these to save texts and prevent missed messages.


Set up and switch on the Parent Portal and Parent App

Have guardians log in to Parent Portal or download the Parent App and enable push notifications to allow them to receive in-app messages. See our article Switching on Parent Portal.

Please note that the Parent Portal and Parent App are included in our Comms or Perform packages. Want to upgrade or find out what package you’re on? Just get in contact with your Account Manager.

Prevent emails from going to junk by setting up DMARC

If you have enabled the email spoofing protection features of DKIM and DMARC on your domain, this may cause emails sent using Arbor to appear in parents' junk folders (Often parents using Gmail or Hotmail services).

Setting up DMARC or adding an SPF Record will help prevent this.



What's next?

So you've decided on your communication settings? Now it's time to send them out!

In the second part of this Build step we'll do just that, plus see how to take a look at what communications have been sent out. Click the button below to jump to the next step in your journey.

Build - Sending communications and viewing the Communications Log

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