Doha College is one of the world's leading British International schools offering an outstanding education to students between the ages of 3 and 18. We caught up with Steffen Sommer, Principal of Doha College and Nicola Meikle, Vice Principal of Teaching and Learning, to find out how they have been keeping their diverse group of parents reassured.
With such a huge international community, parents are often nervous when their children first arrive at Doha College, according to Steffen Sommer, “Being out in Qatar, parents are nervous about whether the education will be the same as in the UK. That’s why communication within the education triangle is so important - the student, school and parents.”
A key challenge faced by the school was managing the vast array of communications on a regular basis. Many parents would find it difficult to keep on top of all of them, having to trawl through their emails to find a message, or rely on children to bring back paper based letters. Nicola told us that since implementing the Firefly Parent Portal, Parents have reported a much more positive experience, especially during the pandemic.
“Parents were getting so many emails that they didn’t know what was important or what they needed to prioritise. With Firefly we now have more flexibility and use the dashboard for short pieces of communication. For example if the parent needs to pick up their child due to a positive COVID case being found. All the messages are there for Parents to look back on”.
Steffen confirmed that the impact of Firefly on parents has been significant for the school. “This has been a huge success story here at Doha college because we have literally 2300 students and our parent community is over a 1000 set of parents. Once they get confused that is a very difficult thing to manage. Firefly has really helped to get some order into our communications.”
Nicola was instrumental in the strategy to “move away from multiple emails a day for parents, towards a retrieval process where they would know where the information was going to be, and they would go and gather it as needed. With the introduction of the Firefly App including push notifications, parents were able to easily access this information.”
The response from parents was extremely encouraging according to Nicola. “We get overwhelmingly positive feedback about Firefly, and our front office manager is now the biggest advocate. Having a portal that Parents can access, where they can have a look at the work their child is doing and see the tasks and progress of the child is fantastic. It's a one stop shop in terms of policies and all events are channeled through this one place.”
A further, unexpected benefit for the school is the impact Firefly had for remote and blended learning. Nicola added that “during the lockdown situation without Firefly we wouldn’t have coped. We were very fortunate. We’re an ipad school, but Firefly became our way of communicating on a daily basis. Pushing all tasks and sharing marks, providing a daily overview of what the day would look like for students, and sharing links to videos they need to watch.”
One of the ways of minimising how many places students had to go to collect resources at Doha College was to organise everything through Firefly. Nicola ensured that content “may link to somewhere else - youtube videos, google doc or an article to read but it had to go through Firefly. This was paramount to having a successful remote learning programme.”
Doha College are currently looking at reviewing all of their systems for the new academic year. Nicola told us “we moved our school to Google which would have been impossible a few years ago, but due to Firefly’s developments and integration it is now possible to have Firefly as our VLE and start to use it differently.”
Steffen and Nicola recently joined us on a webinar on how to transform your school with a joined-up experience - if you would like to watch the full recording simply sign up here.