Begin - Introduction to Parental Engagement using the Parent Portal and Parent App

Begin, Build, Boost

You're at Begin, the first step in your school's journey to getting the most out of parental engagement in Arbor by using the Parent Portal and Parent App!



Why is parental engagement important?

We have a wide range of features in Arbor that you can use to promote positive engagement between your school and parents.

Parental engagement not only supports parents but it also allows teachers, admin and SLT to include parents in the school's community. 'In the last few decades, there has been a growing recognition across the world of the importance of engaging parents' - University of Winchester (Centre for Real World Learning)

Studies have shown that improved engagement leads to:

  • Improved attendance
  • Improved behaviour
  • Increased attainment
  • Better communication and understanding around their child

For more information, read our blog post on 5 ways to boost parental engagement at your school


What are the Parent Portal and Parent App?

For more details, please see What are the Parent Portal and Parent App?

You can also see how you can benefit from using the Parent App in our blog post.


Far too often we’ve seen schools struggle with a mixture of asking parents to check letters, payment systems, booking systems, and report cards. We know that it’s not always possible for parents to access a computer, making it hard for them to keep up-to-date with all the information they need. This causes a lot of manual work for schools and makes it hard for parents to keep on top of everything.

How can the Parent Portal and Parent App help you?

  • Compile all your apps into one place
  • Stay in touch with parents easily and for free with In-app messages
  • Share important updates
  • Have parents get in contact with you quickly
  • Go cashless with card payments
  • Manage club, trip and meeting bookings
  • Parents can quickly check on their child’s attendance, behaviour and progress

The Parent Portal is our version of Arbor accessible to guardians on a laptop or computer.

The Parent App is the mobile version of our Parent Portal, for use on mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets. Parents and Guardians have the same login and account details to the Parent App and the Parent Portal. Once your school has switched on the Parent Portal, guardians can download the App and begin using it straight away.

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What features are included in my package?

We have loads of different features that you can use to improve parental engagement as part of your MIS. Take a look at the table to see the main features that are included in each basic package.

The Parent App and Parent Portal are available as part of the Comms and Perform MIS packages. To find out how to upgrade your package, get in touch with your Account Manager.





Other requirements

In-App messaging with parents


You must have already switched on Parent Portal

Send Emails, SMS and Letters to parents


Communications Log


Report Cards (standard, long and External



Custom Report Cards


Our newest Comms package only


Schedule and allow parents to book Guardian Consultations



Organise Clubs and Trips


Organise Meals



Rotating Meal Menus and parents can choose meals



Our newest Perform package only

You must have set up Rotating meal Menus in your site

School Shop



Our newest Perform package only

You must have set up Card Payments in your site

Parents can sign their child up for clubs and trips



Parents can make card payments and you can log payments and refunds


You must have set up Card Payments in your site

Pay via Apple Pay or Google Pay


Our newest Perform package only

You must have set up Card Payments in your site





What can we do with each feature?

In-app messaging

If you're on the Comms or Perform Package and have enabled the Parent Portal, you can communicate with guardians using In-app messages.

If they have downloaded the App and have enabled Push Notifications, they will also be able to receive the messages as Push Notifications on their mobile devices.



Why should you use In-app messages?

  • They are free! - there is no fee for using In-app messages to communicate with guardians.
  • Instant notifications and follow-ups - guardians can be notified when they receive an In-app message via email or Push Notification and followed up with an SMS (Please be aware this uses SMS credits).
  • Read status - check whether the message has been read by each guardian (not just sent or delivered like for SMS and email).
  • Response notifications - Choose which staff members are notified when guardians reply to In-app messages.




Once your guardians have an email address, mobile number and address logged on their Guardian Profile, you can fully utilise Communications. You can quickly check and fill in any blanks by going to Students > Parent & Guardians > Bulk Update > Guardian Contact Details.



Send emails and SMS directly from Arbor, or download Letters with Guardian’s addresses in bulk from the Communications Centre.



Send communications to individual Guardians, and see an individual communications log from their Guardian Profile or their child’s Student Profile.



Report Cards

Create report cards for Guardians including data on Attendance, Behaviour and Academic Attainment, and share them via email or on the Parent Portal or Parent App.



Guardian Consultations

You can schedule Guardian Consultations (sometimes referred to as Parents Evenings) and allow parents to book slots with teachers on the Parent Portal and Parent App.



  • 00:00 - Key information
  • 02:20 - Setting up the Guardian Consultation
  • 05:00 - Scheduling the meetings
  • 09:20 - Set staff availability
  • 13:00 - Booking meetings manually
  • 19:00 - Having parents book their own meetings
  • 22:30 - Cancel meetings or send reminders to parents to book
  • 24:40 - Changing staff
  • 25:10 - Timetables
  • 27:00 - Cancelling the whole Guardian Consultation
  • 31:00 - Q&A


Payments: Clubs, Trips, Meals and School Shop

  • Meals - As well as having parents top up their children's meal accounts through the Parent Portal or Parent App, with Rotating Meal Menus, parents can select what their child will have for lunch themselves!
  • School shop and Payments - Parents can top up their accounts and purchase School Shop items.
  • Clubs and Trips - Set up free or paid Clubs and Trips for guardians to sign up for on the Parent Portal or Parent App. Depending on your settings, guardians can pay a variable contribution or not, pay the cost of a trip in instalments or select the membership periods to sign up for clubs.

Top Tip: Arbor will not allow a parent to remove their child from a club as there are registers and attendance attached to a club. Your school will have to do this if the parent requests it.

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You can send work home using Assignments.

Although guardians can't submit assignments through the Parent Portal or Parent App (this is only possible through the Student Portal), guardians can see what homework has been given and when it's due.



How do we get started?

If you're already on the Comms or Perform package but have not yet begun using the Parent Portal and Parent App, you’re almost ready to go!

To get set up, click the button below to jump to the next step in your journey.

Build - Switch on the Parent Portal and Parent App

Do you offer training?

Our Customer Education specialists can offer in-depth support on how to use the areas covered in Begin Build Boost, and beyond for other areas of Arbor. Depending on the area, there are Foundation sessions, more in-depth consultations or a bespoke session.

To discuss what would best suit your school's needs, please contact your Account Manager.

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