Langstone Junior Academy

Nearly two months into lockdown and the UK remains uncertain of what the future will bring. In schools, staff continue to support children of keyworkers and families at large. Now, many school leaders are planning ahead to ease the transition into our new ‘normal’ when the government allows. 

Langstone Junior Academy in Portsmouth is one such primary school going above and beyond for their community. We caught up with Administrator, Lorraine Reeves, to find out how their team has been getting on in the face of closures. 

Plan of action 

“It’s been challenging. We’re a tight-knit community and not seeing the children is difficult. We’ve had, on average, 15 children of keyworkers in school over the past few weeks and next week we expect this to increase. We’re also facilitating home-learning. ParentMail has been vital every step of the way throughout lockdown; we wouldn’t be without it.” 

“I request the attendance requirements from our keyworkers for their children on a three-weekly basis, compiling the school registers for each day, including bank holidays. We are, of course, still required to follow safeguarding procedures and ParentMail has supported us with this. The email scheduling assistant enables me to plan communications ahead which is also very helpful.” 

“We had a week’s notice that we were going into lockdown, at which point we immediately launched our action plan. I set up every year group leader as a user on ParentMail, enabling them to stay in touch with their relevant families, along with sending out learning resources every Monday for the week ahead. We know how difficult life must be for parents at the moment and we want to provide as much support as we can.” 

Supporting families 

“We also shared staff email addresses and I include my email address on every communication sent through ParentMail. Staying engaged has never been more important and we encourage parents to stay in touch with us, too.” 

“There’s no pressure on any of our parents or children; we emphasise that we are there for them and that learning is there to be actioned if our parents can engage their child. We’re living in challenging times and we do not want the wellbeing of our children to be impacted by unnecessary pressure.” 

“We also use Facebook to bridge the gap with our parent community. On Facebook, we share photos and messages; it’s another channel of communication and we hope that it acts as an extra reminder that we’re still here for them.” 

“Some parents do not use Facebook, but we don’t let them slip through the net. I have a group on ParentMail dedicated to non-users of this social media platform. Now more than ever, it’s important that no parent misses out.” 

100% engagement 

“100% of our parents are signed up to ParentMail and this has proven incredibly beneficial during closures. Before the start of a new school year, we get all our new parents registered. For those who may be a little wary of technology, we provide hands-on help; I invite parents into the school office and get them set up with their accounts and the ParentMail app. It may be a little hard work at the time, but in the long run, it pays off. Every single parent is receiving the information they need from us through ParentMail at the moment, from general communications and news to learning resources.” 

“Recently, we ran a survey to gather feedback on how parents feel we’re doing under lockdown. ParentMail is fantastic for surveys; it’s easy for parents to respond online and the results are easily reported on.” 

Going above and beyond 

“These are unprecedented times but ParentMail has proven to be an intrinsic tool for our school community. The government’s free school meals voucher system was announced last month. I identified those parents who have never applied for free school meals. In this current climate, where more families are potentially struggling, some parents are not even aware that they could be entitled to this benefit. I created a new group on the system and shared the information on how to apply with the Local Authority online application link – information that they may not have otherwise been aware of. As a result, a number of parents have successfully claimed vouchers to support them during this financially difficult period. For targeted communications to share time-sensitive information, ParentMail has been invaluable.” 

“This year to date, thanks to ParentMail, we have saved nearly £9,000 in staff time, paper and print-related costs. However, throughout the pandemic, the benefits of a reliable, flexible parent engagement system have gone far beyond the financial savings. There is absolutely no way we could have provided all this information to our parents in paper form.” 

“Schools across the country have been dealing with closures in different ways; every leadership team has found their own solutions, sought out ideas and powered on as best they can. It’s all about sharing ideas; every school wants the best for their children and while the future is still a little unclear, we need to pull together to do what we can to support them. I’ve spoken to staff at other schools and extolled the virtues of ParentMail. We wouldn’t be without it.” 

If your school is looking to strengthen your parent engagement both during lockdown and beyond, we can help. Get in touch for a free no-obligation demo