Schools send snow day alerts by text

After last week's snowfall, thousands of parents across the UK were alerted to school closures by text message or automated voice call, thanks to systems that link to school databases in real time.

One such system, Call Parents, sent more than 60,000 text messages and automated phone calls to parents of students at more than 700 schools after wintry weather made travel difficult.

Stephen Clarke, managing director of Call Parents, said: "Our schools appreciate the need to have a system in place for emergency contact with parents, ideal for when snow is heavy and school closures are required. The system can send a variety of messages immediately to parents, saving them staff time and resources."

A similar system, called Groupcall Messenger, was used to notify parents of closures at another 100 schools across England and Wales. The ominous weather reports ahead of the storm helped the firm gain a customer, as one London school had the texting system ordered and installed the day before the snow hit.

Lawrence Royston, a Groupcall spokesperson, said: "The need to contact large groups of parents because of sudden closures or unexpected changes to the school day is exactly the type of situation that the system was developed for."