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improving parent/school communication

(8 Posts)
politerequest Sun 19-May-13 13:48:07

Any advice on setting up an avenue through which parents can channel their concerns/views in school and have responses channelled back.

At the moment our school has nothing and in difficult situations we are left in the dark. This solution should go beyond regular briefings by Governors.

We need something both on-line (accessible by working parents) and in real life.

On-line: We were thinking Google group/Facebook page, accessible only by parents and used to share ideas/concerns.

In Real-Life: A Parent Council (parental year reps and regular meetings with governors/head). Two way communication.
http://www.parentcouncils.co.uk/

I?d very much like to hear what other schools are doing and the pros/cons of different approaches (and particularly how to make parent group inclusive).

juniper9 Sun 19-May-13 14:35:30

If you want parents and the school to communicate, then what's the point of a Facebook group only accessible to the parents, and not to the school?! Surely it will just be used as a place to moan and bitch?

Doesn't your school have a PTA?

What sort of communication are you after?

piprabbit Sun 19-May-13 14:46:32

We have a Parent's Forum - one or two parent reps for each class who meet on a regular basis to discuss issues and concerns. Our PTA is primarily for fund-raising so the Forum has a really useful role to play.

We also have a parents FB page. It is a great way to share information about upcoming events and to organise things and is really helping to build the school community BUT it is specifically not for moaning about things as the moaning tends to get out of hand.

I think people like the text service too - not only does it allow the school to send a message to parents, but parents can text the number making it an easy way of keeping in touch.

Shattereddreams Sun 19-May-13 15:58:00

We have a forum, a Facebook page and governor drop in clinics. Makes not one jot of difference to the bad level of communication from school and Head.

Well, parents communicate, Head ignores.

Get Head onside first.

Elibean Sun 19-May-13 16:14:12

We don't have any of those things, but have fantastic school/parent communication.

IMO it depends hugely on the school ethos, and consequentially the SLT/Head and Governors.

We do have a parents section on the website, occasional drop-in surgeries with Head and Govs, and a LOT of community events. And the school practices a genuine 'open door' policy, where parents are always welcome to give views, ask for time with Head or teachers, get involved in class events, etc.

A Parents Council is a good idea, though, OP - I would go for that one.

juniper9 Sun 19-May-13 17:51:37

I think it's a hard balance from a school's point of view. Obviously, the school wants parents to be involved in their children's education, but unfortunately some parents want to be involved for all the wrong reasons. There was a thread a while ago about a parent helper who had created a spreadsheet of her DC's classmates, weighing up the pros and cons of allowing her DC to foster friendships.

My school won't let us send anything home without it being checked over by the Head, which takes days to get done. A simple note to say 'please return a library book' just cannot happen. The Head is petrified of ruffling the parents' feathers, but in the same way shirks away from any real conflict, which annoys the parents (and the teachers) more.

lljkk Sun 19-May-13 17:58:55

An old-fashioned suggestions box?

BackforGood Sun 19-May-13 19:37:39

I agree with Juniper's first paragraph in the first reply. I certainly don't think a FB group only open to parents is the way forward - could turn very nasty and personal.

I have 3 dc at different schools.
dc3 is a 3 form entry Junior School. HT has meetings once a half term, and varies the times... 1 is at 9.30 after Parents' Assembly, next one is at 2.30 so before the dcs come out, but 3/4hr before so you are up at school for collection, and then the 3rd one is in the evening, so everyone gets a "turn" at a convenient time - the days of week vary too. She also is more than happy to see anyone whenever they ask (obviously if not in a meeting or something, but will arrange an appt) and she is happy for you to ring or e-mail at any time too. Communication is excellent and no-one can really moan that it's not if they are honest with themselves.
dc2 is at secondary. Finally (over 2 yrs in) persuaded them to have aParents Forum. However, HT came along and was very negative about things that parents brought up... don't know how well the next one will go, as there's no point in parents coming if she's not going to do anything about changing things.
dc3 - have a really receptive one, and it's influenced many tweaks and bigger changes over the years. The DHT who runs it is excellent and follows up all suggestions or, if it's something really impractical (you'd be surprised what some parents suggest!) he tactfully explains why it can't happen. It's at a very bad time IMO - after school time, when you are likely to be in the middle of your working day, or, if a SAHP, collecting younger ones from school but again a lot is made of the fact you can e-mail him about things. It's also very good in that you get information about things the parents have helped to "shape" or change in e-mails and newsletters.
There are however things that you will never get all parents to agree on, and every parent has to understand that.

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