ITV’s parenting expert and former Deputy Head Sue Atkins discussesthe best way to engage parents, and the dos and don’ts of parent-school communication…
Making the transition from primary to secondary school is both exciting and challenging for both pupils and parents. New larger buildings, as well as new school routes and new friendships must be navigated which can be quite daunting. But it’s also an ideal time for schools to create a strong home to school bond.
So, what processes can schools set up to send news and updates without consuming more time for precious office staff while securing parental support for the years to come? And how do schools know when they are overdoing it when it comes to parental engagement?
Too many school systems
A major culprit of ‘information overload’ can be the sheer number of communication systems a school operates, which can have an adverse effect on parental engagement.
A recent survey by parent communication and online payment experts, ParentMailrevealed a disconnect between what schools believe and how they are operating in practice. 62% of schools felt using two or more systems to communicate with parents was detrimental to effective engagement. And yet, a significant 45% admitted they had fallen foul of this trap and were operating more than one parental communication system.
Using separate systems for emails, texts, cashless paymentsand booking parent eveningappointments means multiple login details for parents to remember, which can add to confusion and leave parents feeling disengaged. Managing all your parental communication in one place not only creates staff and cost efficiencies but dramatically improves parental response rates too.
Keep on track
Targeted messaging that is easy to access and relevant will help establish the important bridge between home and school. My advice is to make sure you keep them onside, by being ‘on task’.
Think interrogative pronouns! Who, when, why and what. Who do you need to target? When is the best time to reach them? Why do you need to message them? And what do you want to tell them and is there any action they need to take? Year 7 parents want to know how to access homework schedules, not information about GCSEs so ensure your communication is targeted.
‘Pupil post’ may have been replaced by ‘paperless post’ thanks to technology, giving schools greater control over getting the right information to parents at the right time. But there is still a risk important messages will be missed if parents receive too much information from too many sources. Keep it simple – you don’t have to ‘shout’ to get your voice heard.
Parent-friendly communication engages and informs, it doesn’t overwhelm or confuse. Simplifying your technology and your messaging will support staff and keep parents onside from the outset.
For more information on how to connect your school and parents efficiently and reliably visit ParentMail.