School communications can be a headache – from permission slips to homework notes, it can be difficult to ensure that the right message is passed on to the right person. Martyn Allan, founder and director of Collate Loop Systems, talks powerful parent-school engagement and the technology that can improve it
Good communication between your school and parents is one of the fundamental factors to helping children achieve their potential. Studies have shown that a child whose parents are involved in school life performs better academically and that this improves their behavior.
Powerful parental engagement
Parental engagement is what helps build communities in schools and creates an essential connection between school and home – whether that’s helping in the classroom, taking an active interest in homework and topics covered in class or preparing a child for lessons with the correct equipment and uniform; the moral of the story is, if the parent is getting involved then the school and pupil will benefit.
But there is often a stumbling block to this engagement: communication between school and home. Parents can only get involved with school life if they know what’s going on and where their help is needed. Relying on children to take letters to and from school is often insufficient. Firstly, letters must leave the class and not just sit, forgotten, in a desk or drawer. They must survive a journey in a backpack without getting crumpled, destroyed or lost among the other detritus contained inside. Finally, parents have to retrieve and read them before responding and returning them to school.
The burden of comms admin
A study we carried out at Collate Loop into ‘school admin’ found, perhaps unsurprisingly, that it was working parents who struggle most to keep on top of ‘school admin’. Our research found that 59% of primary school parents who work admitted to forgetting to complete school related-tasks – even simple tasks like responding to letters and helping with homework are missed. Considering that 60% of parents who responded said they worked full-time, this can have an enormous impact on the classroom.
Most teaching and school staff will be aware of the knock-on effects of weak communication between school and home. There are the emotional consequences for the child whose parents have forgotten it’s ‘own clothes day’, sports day or parents’ evening. For the school itself, there is the time wasted by teachers and office staff chasing up responses to letters.
New ways of communicating
The advent of technology means that schools have the opportunity to do things a little differently; technology can help bridge the gap between home and school – strengthening links to the benefit of students – by streamlining methods of communication between schools and parents. Technology allows schools to take away the ‘middle man’ – the pupil – and, by using technology that allows you to assemble all school communications in a single, online place, accessible to the right and relevant people, you can help parents to manage ‘school admin’, thereby improving communication.
School leadership teams should look at how they’re communicating with their parents and decide whether it’s the most effective way or if there is a better way to strengthen those ties. Using a digital platform means all information is presented and available, communication is quicker and it demonstrates that the school is embracing technology.
Leading the way and demonstrating to parents the importance your school places on communications, and making it easier to connect, will, hopefully, inspire parents to improve their side of the relationship and the result will benefit everyone – your school, parents and, most importantly, your pupils.