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Derby chosen as pilot city to launch brand-new Government app designed to encourage and support parental engagement in a variety of languages

BRAND-NEW @SchoolToolkit website and app for parents of primary school pupils in Derby, designed to be a one-stop shop showcasing everything you need to know about school life, is now live..

Believed to be the first of its kind in the UK, the School Toolkit website and app will be translated into five different languages – Polish, Kurdish, Urdu, Slovak and Latvian – and will be promoted in the city to encourage and support parental engagement between home and school.

Parents will be able to find out everything they need to know about their child’s school; from how to apply for a secondary school place to revising for SAT exams. There will also be information on the website and app about fun activities taking place in the city.

Eighteen schools, predominantly in Normanton, Sinfin, Alvaston and Chaddesden, will have access to the website and app, which has been funded by the Department for Education.

Should it be a success in Derby, then there are plans to roll it out nationwide.

Ellen Wilkinson, deputy head teacher at The Bemrose School, is leading the project. She said: “The School Toolkit will be the link between school and home”.

“Some parents do not always have the confidence, maybe through previous experiences they had during their time at school, or a language barrier, to approach their child’s teacher at the start or end of the school day”.

“The School Toolkit website and app will hopefully provide the answer to their question and will be a one-stop shop of information, which will be updated regularly.

“We will cover a variety of subjects from health & well-being to safety. There will also be a community section, where we will share ideas to engage your child when you’re out and about.

“There are parenting tools and websites which are out there, however the School Toolkit is purely Derby-focused. It’s a first of its kind for parents and carers in Derby.”

Kash Khunkhuna is the School Toolkit Project Manager. Her job is to ensure that the website fits the criteria for family engagement and, more importantly, that it works well.

Kash, who works for the Harmony Trust, is also tasked with co-ordinating it from a Derby objective and making the School Toolkit a sustainable model.

She said: “We are really excited to be launching the School Toolkit across Derby.

“We have been working hard planning the website and app with School Spider, who are a small business who specialise in supporting primary schools with their website development. We also want to ensure the content is relevant and easy to understand for our parents”.

“Everyone, whatever their background, has similar parental issues and the School Toolkit will aim to provide parents with a ‘go-to’ solution, whether it is about the spellings their child should be practising or key dates for applying for a secondary school place.

“It could be something as simple as reading recommendations for World Book Day or more sensitive issues regarding emotional well-being.

“We felt that, in a world where a huge percentage of us use social media to communicate, we had to create a digital tool which was modern and workable.”

Alex Ellis, director of Manchester-based School Spider, designed the website.

He said: “We don’t usually create bespoke apps for companies but when Kash approached us to build an app which would have the effect which we believe School Toolkit will have, we couldn’t refuse.

“The School Toolkit project is really exciting for us; there is nothing out there like it that delivers such a concise base of information split into easy-to-view subjects for parents.

“We have built it from the ground up and, with the end user in mind, we can’t wait to see the results it has in Derby.”

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