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School Communications

(17 Posts)
Rooble Tue 13-Nov-12 12:27:31

Hello! I was just wondering if anyone's DC goes to a school that manages its communications excellently?

I'm a parent governor at a school where communications are, to my mind, abysmal, and wondered whether there are any examples of best practice out there? Ideally I'd like to suggest to the team responsible that we talk to other schools who are good at this about how they manage the process, so it would be really helpful if people could PM me a school name so that we could write to them.

Thanks in advance!

annh Tue 13-Nov-12 12:39:15

I don't think our school is excellent but it is pretty good. Can you give us examples of how your school currently communicates and people could suggest examples of good communications from their school?

IShallWearMidnight Tue 13-Nov-12 12:43:20

our primary school puts all letters out on a Thursday by email (and an opt-in paper copy if you need it), and mostly manages to get the same stuff on the website. We also have a texting system (is it called Parentmail?) which is handy when you nearly forget the Harvest Festival due to too much Mnetting.

Secondary school do a similar thing - email out letters, and put them on the website under year groups.

Generally a website which is updated pretty much daily is the most useful for me. Have PMed you the school.

coppertop Tue 13-Nov-12 12:44:51

I suspect people will be reluctant to give out the name of their child's school, even via PM.

You will probably get more help by doing what annh suggests and get some suggestions that way.

coppertop Tue 13-Nov-12 12:45:20

Cross-posted! :0

learnandsay Tue 13-Nov-12 12:51:13

Our school sends out school info by email and communications by volunteers to class parents in printouts in the book bag, (volunteers like class rep, etc) And once, on a Reception open day/half day, they telephoned me to check why I'd sent my daughter to school with a lunch pack. I told them it was only her elevensies! They were frightened I was going to leave her there all day. They're pretty proactive people in our school. The constant stream of communications can be a bit overwhelming at times. But you can never complain they didn't tell you about stuff!!

Wigeon Tue 13-Nov-12 12:53:30

I am in exactly the same position as you, OP! (parent governor, school not good at communications with parents). I am trying to set up a project to improve parent partnership at my school. Other governors are keen too. Needless to say the head and deputy are finding lots of reasons why my ideas won't work.

Are you primary or secondary? What is communication like at the moment? How is it poor?

Here are a couple of examples of primary schools local to me which have great communciations - look at the newsletters/ bulletins on their website for ideas, and also look at the Community Cohesion (CoCo) group at Nascot Wood (mentioned in one of their their most recent newsletter) which is all about involving parents. I know parents with children at both these schools and they are both very happy with the communication.

Nascot Wood infants

Abbey View primary

Funnily enough, both of these schools are graded "outstanding" by Ofsted, whereas my school is just "good"....

I have actually had loads of ideas about improving partnership with parents (much more than just getting the blimming newsletter right) - am just at work now, but posting so that I remember to post more later.

One idea is a Parent Council - there is loads of information from the Dept for Education here.

Wigeon Tue 13-Nov-12 12:54:37

Obviously I am not a governor or parent at either of the schools above smile!

AndiMac Tue 13-Nov-12 13:00:22

I think our school's communication is excellent. Every Monday there is a school newsletter sent out by email. It lists and explains any events coming up, it has a calendar of events for the upcoming month, there's some message from the Head about things (whether changes in Ofsted regs, how we've done in the standardized exams, Christmas concert, parking concerns, etc) a list of which children received awards at the previous week's assembly and usually a review of any field trips any classes may have taken, often written by one of the children themselves.

On Thursday evenings or Friday mornings, we receive a class curriculum email, listing what has happened in our child's class that week, what they have been working on, any general themes and a reminder of what any homework might be.

Startail Tue 13-Nov-12 13:09:34

Senior school get three things right our primary never did.

*Annual Calendar given out at the start of each year

*Newsletters sent by Email

*Decent up to date web site with copies of Annual calendar, term dates, reminders of upcoming events, staff lists and a whole host of useful stuff.

They do sometimes text, but that is patchy.

Primary came to rely very heavily on texts and a lot of them were too last minute to be much use. They also let them feel they could move and cancel stuff at the last minute which was very very annoying.

Texts are great as reminders, but there should be a clear coherent diary too.
I'm a SAHM and if I've been known to scream at the lack of warning, heaven help households where both parents work.

*Clear accurate and understandable academic reports are a must. Please throw the computer comment generator in the bin! I have a quirky dyslexic DD if you use the stock phrases they don't quite fit and are horribly obvious.

* Clear Email contact list, lots of minor niggles can be calmly sorted with time to think on both sides.

noramum Tue 13-Nov-12 13:50:25

Our school is, in my opinion, very good

At the start of the school year the Head publishes a list of all events and inset days until the next Summer holidays. So parents can start booking time off early.

Lists with class assemblies are published per term at the beginning of the term.

We get a weekly newsletter on Thursday afternoon with all things coming up the following week.

Additional newsletter come very early. For example the announcement of Book Day came 2 weeks before, plenty of time to organise a costume.

Invitations to parent evenings or events about the school subject (like today's event to tell parents about how maths is taught) comes again at least 2 weeks before and a reminder a couple of days before.

There are boards in the playground reminding parents of events on the same day, in case you forgot the reminder you received a day earlier.

If we need to contact the school we normally get a reply the same day if we send it in the morning as the teacher reviews them over lunch. If no teacher is involved than the office answers fairly straight away.

The only point I don't get a lot of information are related to the actual learning of DD's class. Yes, we get a letter with the topic of the half-term but not a lot more.

redskyatnight Tue 13-Nov-12 13:50:30

DD's Infants school
-send out year group information sheets each half term
- newsletter once a month (ish)
- other letters as required

Important info and reminders are sent via text. Everything else is emailed (opt out for paper copies). In addition information is posted at noticeboards round school.

I think the amount of information we get is good. We also get lots of notice for events - again good (DS's school gave us 2 days notice for sports' day - not good).

I have heard parents say that because everything is emailed you tend to read and then forget, or don't (for example) jot down on the calendar things you need to remember. Personally, I prefer email to mounds of paper, but you can never please everyone smile

PPPop Tue 13-Nov-12 14:01:48

Our school is pretty good I reckon, it sends regular calendar of events, has an excellent website and sends (some) reminders through emails. Texts are sent for urgent things - e.g. if an after school club is cancelled and it gives twitter updates now and then.

The things people tend to gripe about are around what they are being taught and explaining some aspects of the curriculum to parents - there is a termly newsletter but its a bit high level to be of great detail - the example given by Andimac sounds like something I would rate highly.

It can also be hard for working parents to send messages to teachers - we are asked to hand certain forms in, but for working parents they can end up being left in the book bags sent in with the little ones for several days which can be a bit annoying. Access to the teachers to hand stuff in is fine, but obviously only any good if you are standing in the playground at 9am/3pm.

PastSellByDate Tue 13-Nov-12 14:30:53

Hi PPPop

It sounds to me like it's an issue of clarification of what is going on in the school.

Our school hands out a sheet of A4 (folded) which describes the curriculum that term; learning targets for your child in reading, writing and maths; ideas of what you can do at home related to the theme (e.g. for Y3 DD2 they're doing a Jungle Theme, reading Jungle book and learning about Jungles: ideas included visit a botanical garden, watch nature programmes on jungles, etc...). They also have a page about individual learning targets that term for reading, writing and maths.

Our school has a VLE (using MOODLE) which means homework can be put on-line, so parents can check if anything was sent home (and forgotten). [As an aside: I think it is really crucial that teachers respect routine. It really isn't ideal if homeworks come as a surprise and never on the same day.] Also very useful if your child is ill - you can see what they've missed in terms of homework and download it.

The MOODLE system has included signing up parents. They make it very clear that there are ground rules, which you sign up to when you join - but this gives you access to an on-line parents forum, on-line web chats with the head once and a while (well let's be honest - the year OFSTED were inspecting) - and this also allows you to e-mail teachers. I tend to inform the office (via their general enquiries e-mail) if there's an issue for my two DDs - but e-mail end good website links or information about an event related to a class theme as and when I come across things like that. Sometimes they use it, sometimes they don't - but I get the impression they appreciate the ideas coming in.


Rooble Tue 13-Nov-12 22:36:12

Wow, thank you everyone, so many ideas!
We're a primary school and have a reasonable website which has lots of info on it, but which isn't particularly used by parents.
There is a move towards sending out information by email, but there have been several occasions recently where an important communication has gone out by email but not been received by some families - I'm not sure why this is.
As a result people who have something important to communicate send paper copies, or sometimes both.
And as a result of that we get tonnes of paper and no one knows really where to look for communications.
Then there is the issue that the school sends out email communications but doesn't accept email responses....
A weekly newsletter for each year group sounds a really good idea rather than dribs and drabs of communication
Thanks for all your help I will go away and have a good think!

carocaro Tue 13-Nov-12 22:40:52

Our school uses Parentmail email system for everything, stuff also on their website, we do get some letter also. Works really well. The school has a separated email to the Parentmail which you can email of you need to.

BackforGood Tue 13-Nov-12 23:16:24

At dd2's Primary, they've just started sending the newsletter out by e-mail. Before that they tried putting it on the website only, but found it didn't get read and people missed things. I love the e-mail, but I'm sure there are others that don't.
You can request that you get a paper copy if you want to, and it's saving them a great deal of photocopying (time, paper, ink). The children are really into the idea as it's much "greener".

We also have text alerts about all sorts of things - I really like the system, but again I've heard people getting cross about "being disturbed" 2 or 3 times a week hmm

I think you have to understand from the beginning, you won't please all the people all the time. Nothing is going to be right for everyone.

The website is good, but it's difficult to get into the habit of going on to it to see if there's anything new you need to know. Agree with the other poster who said how helpful it is to have all the diary dates on there though - so you know you can go and check that.

Another thing that is excellent is the Parent Forums they hold. The HT holds one each 1/2 term, and alternates between morning (just after the children go in), afternoon (leaving about an hour before the end of school) and evening, so everyone can have the chance to attend... going back to the idea you'll never please everyone. The HT has no agendas for these meetings (but will sometimes ask for parent opinions / feedback on things) and parents can raise anything they want. They aren't that well attended, I have to say, but they are there, and an opportunity to be involved, so if you choose not to, you can hardly moan that nobody listens to you. I have to say, she is very welcoming and will always make time for parents, but this give a chance to chat about whole school events or policies rather than just sorting out issues particular to your child.

One school I worked at, the HT was in the playground before school, mingling with the families evry morning (and he'd often get out in the afternoon too). It was the best way of getting feedback, and including parents in the school I've ever come across. He built relationships and people used to mention things as part of a 'chat' that they would never have come into school over, so he was often able to 'nip things in the bud' or to hear what parents perspective was on all sorts of minor and major issues. I know it doesn't reach those parents relying on OoSC, but it still reaches a lot of parents that would normally never dream of attending something like a parents forum.

Sorry blush - gone on a bit here. Bit of a hobby horse of mine.

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