Toby Lester
4 minutes length
Posted: 11th July 2019

The transition from primary to secondary – making communication count

Going into secondary school is a major milestone, not just for the child who is moving school but for the whole family. It’s not just pupils but parents too who can feel a little out of their comfort zone when making the transition between primary and secondary. It’s a major change for everyone.

Not knowing how it all works can make for an anxious time, as the familiar routines are replaced by a new set of rules and procedures.

New classrooms, teachers, friends, homework requirements, ways of travelling to school and the move from the familiar to the unknown can make for an exciting, yet challenging time. In fact, a report by the World Bank identifies the transition to secondary school as one of five important life stage transitions for young people.

Quite rightly, the focus for most schools during the transition period is helping parents prepare their children so they can adjust to their new environment, by giving them as much information as possible.

But flooding parents with too much information can risk overwhelming them, so they switch off from your updates. Too little, and you risk them feeling uncertain and unconnected. It’s crucial at this important time to strike the right balance and put in place the right communication processes from the outset that will help establish the important bridge between home and school, making the whole process less stressful.

So, what information do parents need to help support their children make a seamless transition?

Messaging that matters

It’s widely accepted that involving parents in their children’s education is a powerful motivator of pupil performance. Pupils do better when their families are informed and engaged as they are much better equipped to support them throughout their education journey. Ensuring your messages hit home will play a crucial part in keeping parents connected and onboard.

Using targeted, specific messages will ensure parents know when they receive an email from the school, it will be relevant and needs opening, not forwarding on to the junk folder. Simply pressing ‘Send’ won’t necessarily mean your message will effectively land with parents or carers and get the parental action you might be seeking.

The rule to remember here to get it right is the three Rs – target the right parents, with the right information, at the right time.

Parents new to the school need information that will help guide them through new systems and procedures. They need to know how to contact form tutors or how to book slots at parents’ evening, for example.

Simplify your systems

As the saying goes, ‘less is more.’ This certainly can be applied to multiple school communication systems – having too many could reduce engagement, rather than encourage it. Parents can be confused if the school operates too many systems, as they might not know where to find the information they need.

According to a recent survey carried out by ParentMail, 62% of schools believe using two or more systems to communicate with parents can lead to reduced communication effectiveness. Despite this, 45% admitted to operating more than one parental communication system.

Think about investing in a system that enables you to manage all school information in one place – emails, forms, collecting payments and booking appointments for parents’ evenings. Reducing your communication channels will not only help reduce the workload for staff; it can also save money.

A true test

Not sure if you have the balance right or have chosen the best means of communicating with parents? Ask for feedback! Why not consider sending out a short survey to parents to find out their preferences for things like the timing of newsletters and if they are feeling in the loop or not.

Good communication speaks volumes

Making the transition from primary to secondary is a milestone for both pupils and parents and is the perfect time to harness and capture the enthusiasm of this engaged audience, securing their support for years to come.

As nervous pupils pose for the obligatory first-day photo with hesitant smiles and oversized blazers, now is the time to let parents know how and when you will be contacting them throughout the year. Implementing the right communication processes from day one will establish an important bridge between home and school helping parents to feel reassured knowing there are clear lines of communication in place.

If you’d like to invest in a communications system you can trust, with multiple applications on one platform and a free mobile app, ensuring you reach parents instantly, get in touch with the ParentMail team today.