In-app messages

In-app messages are an easy way to communicate with guardians for schools on the Comms or Perform Packages who have enabled the Parent Portal.

We recommend using this channel of communication for messages that are not critical or time-sensitive, as some guardians might not log in to Parent Portal regularly to read the messages.

Guardians are able to see these messages in the communications section of the Parent Portal. 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.
  • Response notifications - Choose which staff members are notified when guardians reply to In-app messages. 
Who can send mail-merge In-app messages?

Permissions required (you can see how to give someone these permissions here):

  • To be able to manage In-app message settings you must have the School Communications: Setup: Communications: Setup School Communications permission.
  • To be able to send In-app messages you must have the School Communications: Action: Send and administer school communications: Administer permission.
  • To be able to view In-app messages you must have the School Communications: View: View school communications: View permission.

You also have to be a permitted sender of In-app messages. To see how to manage this for each staff member, see this article. 

How to check if your school can send In-app messages

To be able to send In-app messages, check you have displaying In-app messages in the parent portal switched on.

To do this, go to Students > Parents & Guardians > Parent Portal Settings and scroll down to the Communication section. Click the 'In-app messages' field.



In the slide over, change the setting to Yes, then click Save Changes.


Managing In-app messages settings

These settings allow you to choose whether guardians can respond to a message, whether an SMS will be sent after an In-app message, and how soon after. These settings apply to all In-app messages sent, and cannot be customised on a message-by-message basis.

Before you send your first In-app message, you should check that your follow-up settings are correct. Please note, you must have the School Communications: Setup: Communications: Setup School Communications permission to make amendments to these settings.

Go to School > Communications > Setup > In-app Message Settings.



Allowing guardians to send messages

To set whether to allow guardians to initiate a message or send a reply to In-app messages, click the 'Accept messages from Guardians' field. Tick or untick the box, then click Save Changes.



To see what the screen where Guardians can reply will look like, see the 'How can guardians read the messages?' section.


Notification of replies

To set who is notified and how when a guardian responds to an In-app message, click the 'New in-app message notification' field.



These settings allow you to select whether the person who sent the In-app message is notified when a reply is received.



You can also choose to notify other members of staff, by selecting one or multiple Business Roles or individual staff members in the Notify Staff section.

You can select whether staff members or the sender are notified by email, with a notification in the top-right of their Arbor site, or both.



Managing communications sent

Manage what follow-up communications are sent after the In-app message by clicking the Guardian's notification field.

The settings will automatically have both boxes ticked, and the 'Send SMS' field set to not send a follow-up SMS message

This means that when an In-app message is sent, a Push Notification will immediately be sent to guardians who have installed the App and enabled Push Notifications. For those who do not have the App installed, or have not enabled Push Notifications, an email will be sent instead.

No SMSs will be sent automatically. Keep in mind that in this case, there is an even smaller chance that the Guardian will read the intended message if they don’t have push notifications enabled.



You can choose to send a follow-up SMS to In-app messages. Please note that if you turn this on, SMSs will be sent following every In-app message after the time period chosen. You can amend the time period to 10 minutes, 30 minutes, any amount of hours up to 24 hours, 36 hours, or 48 hours.

In the example below, 4 hours after the In-app message is sent, any users who have not read the In-app message 4 hours after it was sent will receive an SMS. Please be aware this does use SMS credits.



How do I create a Mail merge In-app message?

The process is similar to how you send mail merge SMS or emails. just go to School > Communications > In-App Messages > New Mail Merge In-App Message.

The From field will automatically show the school name. Select the groups of guardians you would like to send the message to. Choose to combine messages by household or student. Add your message, then click Proceed.

Please note that all text formatting will be removed when the message is sent and the message will look similar to an SMS with no colour, no emboldening, no links etc.



On the second step, you will be able to see the last time the guardian logged in to the Parent Portal. This can be used to help to predict whether this person will actually read your message or not.

The colour coding of this field is:

  • Red if a recipient has never logged in. 
  • Orange if the last login of the recipient happened more than 24 hours ago.
  • Green if the last login happened less than 24 hours ago.



At the bottom of the page before sending you’ll see the total number of messages you’re about to send.


How can guardians read their in-app messages and reply, or send a new message?

How can guardians read the messages?

When a guardian is sent an In-app message, they will see this shown on a button on the dashboard of the Parent Portal. They can click this button to view all In-app messages received. They can also get to the list of messages by going to the drop-down menu at the top of their screen and selecting My Items > School Messages.



When using the App, a Guardian will receive a Push Notification (if they have enabled this feature).



In the App, they will see a notification at the bottom right of their screen. They can click this notification, then click Messages to see their messages.



They will be taken to the School Messages page where they can see all messages received and all messages they have sent to school if this feature has been enabled. All new messages will be marked as 'NEW' and will be written in bold. Read messages will be written in normal text.

They can click the message to view it.



When using the App, the page looks like this.



How can guardians send a new message?

If you have enabled Guardians to reply to or send messages (See the section called 'Managing my In-app messages settings'), a Guardian can click the Send new message button to send a new message. 



When using the App, the page looks like this.



In the slide over, they'll just need to type in their message then click Send message.



When using the App, the page looks like this.



How can guardians reply to messages?

If you have enabled Guardians to reply to or send messages (See the section called 'Managing my In-app messages settings'), a Guardian will be able to click the message and click the 'Respond' button to reply.



When using the App, the page looks like this.



They can draft the message, then click send.



When using the App, the page looks like this. 



The School Messages page will then show their message, and a notification will be shown if the message was sent successfully.



When using the App, the page looks like this.



How can I view a log of In-app messages sent by the school or incoming messages from guardians?

You can also see communications to or regarding a student on their Student Profile, or to a guardian on the Guardian Profile.



All School Communications

You can see an overview of all school communications (including In-app messages) sent on the All School Communications page.

Clicking into each communication type provides more information, including whether the message has been read for In-app messages.



Sent In-App Messages

Go to School > Communications > All school communications > Outbound In-App Messages

The Outbound In-App Messages section lists all individual messages the school has sent for the current academic year. It will not merge messages that were created from the same template at the same time.

Click a message to display whether it has been read or not.



To view merged In-app messages, go to School > Communications > In-App Messages > Sent In-App Messages.



More information can be viewed by selecting one of the messages. This will display the message, a full list of its recipients and whether each email has been read or not.

You can also see which recipients have been sent a follow-up SMS with the same message if your school has set this up.



Send another follow-up email, SMS or in-app message to recipients of your in-app message by selecting the tick boxes next to the people you want to follow up with, and clicking the blue pencil icon. This will open a new Mail Merge with the people you've selected in the To field.



How can staff read messages or replies from guardians?

If you have enabled Guardians to initiate or reply to messages (See the section called 'Managing my In-app messages settings'), you can see replies in School > Communications > All School Communications > In-bound In-App Messages.

Inbound in-app messages will be in bold if they have not yet been read by school staff, and normal text if read.

You can click the message to read it and see more information.


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