Parent / School Communications – 22 Years On

Sue Atkins outlines her opinions
By Toby Lester | 5th August 2019 | 3 min read

As we have previously touched on, the 1997 White Paper ‘Excellence in Schools’ highlighted the importance of parent / school relationships and acknowledged that – “Parents play a crucial role in helping their children learn. Family learning is a powerful tool for reaching some of the most disadvantaged in our society, helping build strong local communities and widening participation in learning.”

In January 2010, BECTA published a report which stated “The support and involvement of families can make a crucial difference to learners’ success. Technology offers practical, effective ways to engage families, keeping them in touch with a learner’s progress and encouraging learning beyond the classroom!

It touched on some key facts and figures relating to social grades and access to the internet at home, but the key findings we will look at today relate to the section ‘Communicate better with online reporting.’

‘Every school in England is now expected to offer online access to information for parents to support their children’s progress: all secondary schools by September 2010, and primary schools by 2012.’

Here are some key facts and figures from this report:

  • 80% of parents say they see the benefit of regular parent-school contact
  • 60% of teachers think that parents believe their job stops at the school gate
  • 58% of school leaders believe ICT has improved the school’s ability to involve parents in their children’s attendance.
  • 48% of teaching staff say ‘invisible’ parents lack the confidence to approach them to discuss their child
  • 67% of parents would like schools to use technologies such as text messaging and the internet to communicate with them more often
  • 8% of parents surveyed in 2008 were kept informed through online reporting

So, 22 years on, how has parent / school communications evolved?

There is a wide range of school communication software on the market, and there is no doubt that it can support school-home engagements with the wide range of features they offer. Access to software can be via a website or in some cases, via a mobile app, providing more flexibility for the parent to stay in touch.

We know that parental engagement is a powerful factor in driving pupil progress right from early years education through to post-16 study. However, research shows that the nature of engagement changes over the course of a child’s school journey, which is why schools need a clearly defined strategy to determine how parental engagement will be led and carried out.

ParentMail bringing schools and parents closer together

Many schools encounter barriers to parental engagement, so by using a system that puts information directly into the hands of parents and tailoring their communications to meet the needs of their communities, schools are finding ways to break down these barriers and help parents support their child.

There will always be parents who are harder to reach, and technology has a part to play in engaging this group. Some schools are focusing on sending out positive messages about pupils to their parents which helps to counter negativity and builds fruitful dialogues – building bridges not walls between home and school.

Today, schools are embracing technology to communicate with parents, and email, text messages and mobile apps are all part of the toolkit. Schools need to ensure they get the most from these tools so that messages can be sent out quickly without adding to staff workload.

Parental engagement has moved on from the days when the annual report and parents’ evening were the only point of reference. The time has come for schools to reach out to parents using the technology they live with every day, so they can build up a positive working relationship to support pupils through the school years.

ParentMail provides schools with the technology they need to communicate with parents, all through one platform. If you’d like to discuss further, please don’t hesitate to get in touch by reaching us on 01733 595959.