Introduction to Communication Types in Arbor

We know schools need to be able to communicate with staff, guardians and students quickly and easily, so there are a number of communication types available through Arbor depending on your needs. 

All communication types are included in our Comms and above packages. Want to upgrade or find out what package you’re on? Just get in contact with your Account Manager.

There are also a couple of requirements to be able to use these communication types:

  • In-app messages - These are messages that primary guardians can read through the Parent Portal and Arbor App, so you'll need to switch this on for guardians to be able to read them.
  • SMS - Just like on a phone contract, SMS or texts cost a certain amount to send. You can purchase bundles of credits - the larger the credit bundle, the cheaper each credit becomes. 

Before you start generating communications, we recommend following the steps in this article to make sure the right people are able to send and receive communications: Checking your settings before starting to use communications in Arbor

You can then use our articles on the help centre to help you generate and send out SMS, emails, letters and in-app messages:

What are the differences between SMS, Email, letters and in-app messages?

As well as the features below, you can:

  Email SMS Letter In-app message
Price Free Not free - Price dependant on the bundle purchased Free to generate, printing cost will depend on your settings Free
Pre-set editable templates


Yes No No
Notification of replies No Yes - via notification No Yes - via email or notification
Send to Staff, students or guardians Staff, students or guardians Staff, students or guardians Primary guardians only
Distribute through Arbor Yes Yes No - print and send these Yes
View sent/read receipts Sent Sent No Sent and read
Send links Yes No - only text (may convert URLs to clickable links) No Yes
Send formatted text Yes No Yes No


How can we save money by reducing our SMS use?

As there is a cost to using SMS (you can see prices here), you'll want to ensure you're only using SMS messages when necessary.

Use the right communication type

You can use emails when the information you're sharing isn't urgent.

If you've enabled the Parent Portal, your guardians have downloaded the Arbor App and enabled push notifications, you can send urgent communications by using in-app messages. Guardians will see a pop up on their phone and can see that they have a new message when logged into the app.

Trim down your message

Approximately every 153 characters used in an SMS will use up 1 credit, but the actual number of characters and credits is shown before you send out your SMS.

Make sure you're reviewing the length of your messages to see if they can be trimmed down, or try making your school's signature shorter from School > Communications > Setup > SMS Settings.

Send messages to the right people

The more people you're sending SMS to, the higher the cost, so make sure you're only sending to the people you need to target. 

Consider whether you need to send to all staff members or only a certain business role. For guardians, does it need to be sent to all, or only Primary Guardians?

When sending to guardians, don't forget you can also combine messages - so families that live at the same address can be sent one message that covers all their children.

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