Toby Lester
5 minutes length
Posted: 26th September 2019

What do parents think of parents’ evening?

While school staff spend hours collecting data and information in preparation for parents’ evenings, we don’t often take the time to ask parents for their feelings on this important event.

Gathering feedback may prove an impossible task for your busy team, so we set out to discover what parents think of parents’ evening with a good old fashioned survey – and the results might surprise you!

Time after time

Multiple parents referred to feeling rushed during meetings, with many stating they need more time with teachers to make the appointments feel truly beneficial. While extending appointments is impractical for many schools, providing the opportunity for parents to book in a telephone or Skype meeting with teachers at a later date is a good way of solving any time-related issues.

Communication between parents and your school in advance of the evening iis a great way to enable teachers to plan for appointments. Enable parents to raise questions or topics they’d like to discuss so teachers are ready to make the most of their short time together.

“That they actually run on time! I went to my daughter’s evening and we had 8 appointments, 10 minute slots for each with a 10 minute buffer in-between. We were there for 4 hours.” 
Mel Nicholson

Flexible and functional  

Busy parents often struggle to book convenient appointments, with many opting out of the evening completely due to their inability to either book meetings at all or schedule appointments to suit their busy lives. 

Paperless parents’ evenings have proven a huge success for thousands of schools across the country, with parents able to book appointments, in seconds, online or on an App. For schools, managing online timetables simplifies processes and saves hours of time – it’s a win, win! However, there will always be parents who prefer the traditional method; so if you’re a paperless school with a focus on all things digital, it is vital that you still have the flexibility to accommodate manual bookings.

“It always feels rushed. The teachers do the best they can but we’re all tired from a long day! Also as a working parent I find it hard to get the appointments I need because they are put up outside the classroom and I don’t drop off or pick up!” 
Emma Jane Paterson

More than just grades 

Communicating grades and performance data is important for a student’s progression, particularly for those studying for GCSEs and A-Levels. However, many parents shared that they would appreciate hearing less about progress and attainment and more about their child as an individual; their behaviour in class, their friendships, attitude, manners and more. For parents, this information is just as important as their child’s academic performance.

“Honesty. And more of an all-round view of the child. I was told my daughter was fab at everything blah blah. She asked, ‘Do you have any questions?’ I said yes, is she supportive of others, does she have friends, is she a good kid or badly behaved in class? She laughed and said all was well on all fronts. I’d rather parent a decent all-rounder than a lonely genius.”
Eve-Marie Ford

Don’t sugarcoat it

While it might be intimidating to express the ‘real truth’ about a student, many parents expressed how important it is for a teacher to communicate honestly about their child’s behaviour and academic performance. 

Whether it’s about behaviour and attitude, missing homework or general academic achievement, it’s vital to share the truth. A team effort between home and school is proven to support students in the classroom, and only by knowing the whole picture can a parent take an active role in their child’s education.

“Honest appraisal with some stats and benchmarks if possible and less fluff.” 
Fran Vale

“Honesty rather than just general waffle. I want to know more about my child and if they are where they should be with milestones and general behaviour etc.” 
Sarah-Louise Smith

“Honesty, good or bad.” 
Rachael Oakman

Inclusivity 

Numbers of blended families and parent separations are on the rise, so ensuring school communications reach all of the appropriate people in the run-up to parents’ evening is important. Make sure every parent has the opportunity to be involved in their child’s education by checking contact details are up to date and lines of communication between your school and families are open, to ensure your plans and appointments include all types of family structures. 

“We never get to go to my step sons parents’ evening as the school only inform his mother. We get homework to do on a weekend but no communication to say how it is received. In this modern time I think more effort is needed to include all parents.”
Lorraine Finn 

Particularly for parents of children with Special Educational Needs, sharing specific information about their child’s development plan and progress is key. Ensure teachers are prepared with the appropriate information for each appointment and take the opportunity to open up lines of communication so parents feel supported and encouraged to engage with your school in the future.

“To know what my children are really like rather than if they are hitting Government targets … both mine  have high functioning autism and are without an EHCP (Education, Health and Care Plan) because apparently they don’t need one … so give me the truth of what they are capable of and what you’re going to do about it.” 
Marie Grantham

Action plan

If it’s broke, fix it – tackle parents’ evening headaches head on this term, and impress parents in the process. Your school spends a long time putting plans in place for this all-important event – make sure your efforts aren’t wasted!

Parents Evening Manager provides all the flexibility your team needs to make your next evening a success:

  • Impress parents with ParentMail’s free mobile App. Busy parents can book appointments on-the-go in seconds, ensuring schools receive a great response. 
  • Take the paper out of planning with schedules, appointments and reports stored securely online, reducing reliance on pesky paper slips and print-outs.
  • Parents’ Evening Manager syncs with SIMS and other MIS, for easy class and student selection, ensuring all parents receive information when it matters most.
  • The flexible, functional platform allows staff to preset appointment durations in advance; parents can even leave comments and questions when booking, enabling teachers to plan ahead.

A time-saving tool that won’t break the bank, Parents’ Evening Manager is available from as little as £169. Take the step now to make your next parent’s evening a breeze. Get in touch to find out more or book a free demo.