AN APP that expands conversations at the school gate is tackling a gender divide among parents.

The Oxford mums who co-founded Classlist, a platform for individual school communities to chat on, said the app has helped to engage more fathers in school activities.

As the app is seeing an upsurge in usage ahead of school Christmas fundraisers, it has highlighted how some dads still feel ‘sidelined at the school gates’ and isolated from events.

Classlist chief executive Susan Burton said: “We did a survey of Classlist fathers and they were clear that it had made them much more likely to contribute, as they knew what events were coming up.

“Many say they’d never pick up this information just doing a couple of school drop-offs or pick-ups a week.

“We regularly hear of dads organising camping weekends, pub evenings out, bike rides and loads more once they realise it can be done so easily.”

Ms Burton co-founded the app four years ago with Clare Wright, when they both had children going to the Dragon School in North Oxford.

More than 2,500 schools in Oxfordshire and nationally have created pages, providing a secure social network to allow parents to connect, organise events, trace lost property or organise lift-shares.

Last month the Oxford Mail reported on the demise of several parent-teacher associations in Oxfordshire, which raised concerns about apathy.

Classlist is using technology in an attempt to boost parental engagement and make it easier and less time-consuming.

It is free to use and schools can generate cash by gaining advertising.

Classlist user Stuart Bonthron, chair of the PTA at Abingdon Prep School, said: “When we advertise for help for events we now get a 50-50 response from women and men, which we never had before.

“Our ball committee last year was more than 50 per cent dads. This brought a different flavour to the event with lots of new ideas generated.”

Co-founder Clare Wright, who is chair of the PTA at Oxford’s Magdalen College School, added: “When I run PTA events I have found some parents don’t like turning up on their own.

“We suggest anyone coming alone might like to man the bar, which is a win-win - we get volunteers and they get to chat with other parents while doing a job, which takes the pressure off them to mingle.”