Here’s why you should move parents’ evenings online

iStock 1128256808 e1621589553645 | Here’s why you should move parents’ evenings online
By Toby Lester | 21st May 2021 | 3 min read

Parents’ evenings are rife with challenges. 

First, there’s the issue of parent Tetris in the car park. You then have to cram these people into your school corridors and pray that your carefully planned scheduling doesn’t fall apart. After all this hard work, the entire night will still run at least fifteen minutes behind schedule, as there just isn’t enough space to organise an event on this scale. 

“We know [virtual meetings] have often made it easier for parents to attend appointments and have also made it easier for schools to manage the logistics.”  
General Secretary Paul Whiteman 

With social distancing in effect, these challenges have only been made more daunting.  

However, if nothing else, the pandemic has forced innovation. Tech is now considered part and parcel of great education provision. With new technology comes new ways to work, and parents’ evenings are no different. 

The birth of the online parents’ evening

Whether or not schools were ready to run them, COVID-19 made online parents’ evenings a necessity. Now that restrictions are lifting, it’s clear that online parents’ evening is more than just a gimmick. 

"The way that schools do parents’ evenings I don’t think will ever be the same again.” 
Sir Kevan Collins, Post-Covid Recovery Commissioner 

It’s clear that parents enjoy the convenience of an online call, and while there will always be a time and place for face-to-face meetings, the pandemic has proven that online parents’ evenings can work. 

But if your current face-to-face meetings are working and have worked for decades, why would you choose to move them online? 

Simply put, just because something works, that doesn’t mean that it works well. Thankfully, there’s no parent Tetris, cramped corridors or significant delays to an online parents’ evening. Instead of inconveniencing parents, these events are focused on solving parents’ problems – to the benefit of the school. 

Solving parents’ problems 

At its heart, parents' evening is supposed to improve student attainment, and this is the primary reason that many parents are eager to get involved. 

However, most people’s personal and career lives are incredibly busy nowadays, and it’s unlikely that every parent will have time to reserve an entire evening for your event – and not attending could be disastrous. 

The net result is reduced parent engagement with the school and less interest in their children’s development than an online parents’ evening – and it’s proven that parental engagement is key to boosting children’s grades

Online parents’ evenings solve parents’ problems by making it easy to attend, but they’re also of huge benefit to the school. They could drive up attainment across the board by contributing to your overall parental engagement. 

How do you run a successful online parents’ evening? 

Firstly, there's no need to overinvest in online events. Parents won’t be expecting to receive a headset in the post to discuss their son’s maths scores in virtual reality. Instead, there’s a creative solution to every tech problem. 

With that in mind, there’s a number of ways that schools can bootstrap a well-planned online parents’ evening onto their existing technologies.  

For example, Culcheth High School used their existing parental engagement system to conduct an on-demand parents’ evening. Teachers recorded voice notes for each of their students, which were then easily distributed to parents to listen to as and when they have time. 

If you’d like to find out more about how Culcheth High School used technology to drive positive change throughout the pandemic, the full case study is available to read here