Great communication from school to home(32 Posts)
If your school communicates really well with parents, or at least you have few complaints, please could you give me some tips as to what they do particularly well. Thanks!
We receive a termly letter with key dates eg parents' evening, school There is an online calendar which is only one click from the school's home page, for when you've 'filed' said letter. play. Updates then tend to come by email eg reminder please bring something for harvest festival next week.
Each child also has a homework diary with a box for parent/teacher comment if you want to send a message eg DS has a dental appt so will collect at 3pm next Mon. (In last 18 months teacher has never felt need to write a comment.)
Urgent messages tend to come by email but they also text saying read your email plse (this week it was no heating so no hot dinners available one day).
It seems to work.
Ours send nearly all letters via email now, with copies on the web site. This solves the problem of lost letters. What we now need to sort out is the lack of notice given for events
THey also use text for emergency situations eg a cancelled extra curricular activity after school which works well.
Newsletters are given out in paper format and are on the website.
In fact having everything online helps when the papers get lost.
Also we get weekly newsletters talking about what the kids are doing each week in numeracy and phonics.
Weekly newsletter by e-mail, available on the website and paper copies in the office.
First newsletter of the term has all the term dates they already know, and the calendar on the website has all the year's dates they already know.
If they can't give full details they give you as much as they can (eg "Sports Day will be on 13/7 and we'll let you know specific timing ASAP").
After feedback (!) from parents they are also sending idiot-proof instructions with all their letters as a lot was having to be disseminated by jungle drums, such as procedures for trips, etc. Lots of apparently redundant statements on letters saying eg "Trip will be back by 3pm so pick-up should be unaffected" whereas previously you were supposed to just know that you should come early and pick up from a different door.
Oh yes, also class blogs, text message reminders of eg own clothes days, and sandwich boards/blackboards put out at pickup and dropoff reminding us of events.
Ours have moved to communicating via a smartphone App. That is a really bad way of communication.
Termly newsletters in paper and emailed to parents with all key dates were the best way.
Our school uses Twitter so we know if children are going to be back late from school trips.
The things I like about ours are:
- A website with diary dates, newsletters, and information about what is being taught this term.
- Letters sent out by email, with a text to let you know if something very important has been sent out.
- Text messages for when clubs have been cancelled.
- Twitter with general updates about events.
Our school is great.
Every Friday we have an A4 handout/emailing which says everything thats happening next week, all the dates and what the kids needs, plus for each class what they are learning next week!
We also have a parents Facebook group which works well. The night before any thing is happening someone always posts and says "don't forget its x, y, z tomorrow folks". Or people can ask if they are unsure of something.
Its a small school though, small enough that everyone pretty much knows each other on a chat-to basis at least.
The one thing that is not particularly well communicated is on the academic side, e.g. do they differentiate? Is my kid in a particular group? What does my kid need to do to move up a book band? All that sort of thing. Last year my DDs class had two groups called the Red Group and the Green group. We didn't really know what these were but on the basis of the children in each and all knowing each other, we were able to work out that they were actually ability groups for guided reading and literacy.
A good website really helps, but it's also important that it doesn't get too big/complex as not everyone has the latest tech all the time and elaborate sites can crash on some phones/tablets. A calendar and an archive of all recent messages is helpful.
Termly letters with advance notice of big events is really useful. And if a date has to change, a well-worded notification (ie realising that parents may have already booked leave/shifts/sibling juggling) explaining why is better than just straight info on new date.
Text alert reminders are good too, as not everyone is on twitter.
But the key thing is not the means, it's the thought that goes in to what parents need or would want to know. A weekly newsletter is time-consuming, but does give the chance to do rolling updates and generally let the whole school community know what is going on.
I like that our school put the child's current reading target into their reading diary. They also mark off a chart in the diary in school when they have achieved that target with the teacher, and we know that after 3 achievements they will get a new target.
Message withdrawn at poster's request.
We had fantastic communication with one mainstream school.
Fortnightly news letter
Text messages to remind of occasional events
TA or teacher posted on each entry door to the school each day who would pass on messages to the CT.
HT on gate duty most mornings who welcomed casual chats. She was also readily available if you requested a more private meeting.
Three parent evenings a year.
For those kids who needed it due to challenging behaviour etc.
Home-school behaviour book
Regular face-to-face meetings to discuss issues.
Daily contact with TA to discuss any behavioural issues arising
We get texts all the time with reminders like "Don't forget it's swimming tomorrow!" and "All year 2s to bring in a pound tomorrow!" and it's so useful. Sometimes they send them in the morning too "Non uniform today!" and so on.
We get fortnightly newsletters and they also send out texts with important info e.g. running club is cancelled tomorrow afternoon.
The reading record seems to be used well by teachers (and me!)
We get newsletter at the beginning of each half term with diary notes. Letters come by email, ParentMail, so no danger of them being lost. Most of them are also on the website, especially the ones where parental consent is required.
Reminders and changes are in the website but I think there are suggestions to change it to Twitter or text as no everyone looks at it all the time.
Spelling is on the website as well.
We have a homework diary we can leave messages in. Ok but often the teacher wants to answer in person but we don't do the pickup each day. I think she learned now to ask for a small meeting after school if really necessary.
No so good, communication about academics like DD received a letter that she is put forward to a group helping them to develop better self esteem and communication. Great but we had parent evening a week before and nothing was mentioned that there is trouble despite us asking. Also no real information about what they currently do in class.
Followed the next day by another letter with all the corrections to the newsletter
Diary on the website that is usually different to both the original and the corrected newsletters
An unofficial Facebook parents' group, which is always full of people saying 'The letter says Friday 27th, but the 27th is a Thursday...'
Text reminders the night before some (but not all) major events, including classics such as 'Please can all children bring their willies into school tomorrow'
So that's how not to do it!
Primary - texts reminding us about activities, notices, head-bump notifications etc. Weekly newsletter by email.
Secondary - school website is up to date. Teachers respond to emails (I appreciate this doesn't happen everywhere!). Reports twice a year, assessments with grades for effort and attainment each term.
Annual meeting a couple of weeks into 1st term for each class, 1st thing in the morning. Spread across 2 weeks. Allows class teachers (for both classes) to outline this year's curriculum, specific concerns or things they want to remind parents of, elect class reps, and also allows parents to meet the teachers early on.
Weekly newsletters by email - they started emailing 2 years ago for a few things, but changed to all email (except hardcopy for those who have notified school that they are not using email) this year. These are whole school emails. There is a "return receipt" link to click to show you've got it too (Aladdin system) and I think that links to other systems in school admin too.
Roughly every month or 6 weeks, there is a hard copy News - either 4 or 6 A4 pages but folded from a large single sheet - which is printed professionally but put together by a couple of parents with news from each class, note from principal, note from PTA etc and a couple of highlights of achievements or "look how well school garden is doing". 1 per family (given to the youngest child in families where more than 1 child in school).
Principal is in yard every morning possible - mostly to supervise and chat to the kids, but always happy to talk to parents either just "Hello" or a "I have a problem" to mention it or arrange a meeting. In a month, she's probably there 18-19 days out of the 20.
Class reps generally send texts about things as needed and up to date contacts lists are done annually and checked at Christmas and Easter. Reps will send reminders of upcoming deadlines and events too (PTA and class reps groups both pretty good about coordinating).
Annual calendar is up on website, and some notices go up too, as do the "News" after being given out to school.
School secretary is great for any needs. To set up meetings with class teachers or principal, pass on messages, ringing without panicking you when DCs are sick, etc.
It is an "Educate Together" school, so the PTA has a very strong role, and there is a strong engagement with parents across the board, in terms of the teaching and class, and on fundraising, monthly coffee mornings, other volunteering roles etc. Which pays off, as for example, when local schools generally closed for a week or more in 2010 when there was bad snow, DD's school was only closed 1 day when the boiler failed - the "Snow Team" of the school caretaker and a voluntary group of parents went in every morning to clear paths around school and pupils arrived a half hour to an hour later than normal (Principal sent text each morning), stayed in hall at breaktimes, and only had to go home early 1 other day when snow was bad through the morning.
Although, admittedly, I have to remind myself to check on when World Book Day (week) is on in advance, as we usually only get an overnight notice of the annual "dress as your favourite character from a book" day, and I've had to make Willie Wonka the night before, and buy a uniform (non-uniform school) for Naughtiest Girl, and buy glasses, borrow witches broom and make a Quidditch robes for Harry Potter (2 sets of shin guards worked well - 1 on legs, 1 on arms!) - both with about 3 days notice. Last year, we thought ahead for "Where's Wally", and this year, we're going to use the grim reaper cloak from Halloween to make Professor Snape next spring.
Sorry, yes, homework diaries are put together by Educate Together for each school, so there are contact details etc in it, tear out notes for lateness or absence, space for teacher and parent comments in each weekly double page etc. And the journals are greatly used to pop in envelopes with notes etc too - for secretary or teacher - and send notes back too. I use both the space on the page (usually days when DD is too wiped to finish parts of homework etc) and notes in envelopes (if there is a huge amount of change going on that may disrupt DD, so it helps for teacher to be aware of it - what may normally be fine for her can result in meltdowns in class still if she is already too stressed - aspergers and ADHD).
Thanks so much for all of these examples. Very helpful.
Our School has poor communication. We keep requesting a weekly email instead of scraps of floating paper and links to websites but requests have fallen on deaf ears
One thing I've been doing for the last few years that parents have told me they really like is a class blog (with a password). We update it constantly during the week (the students mostly do this themselves, ties in with our ICT learning) by uploading photos what they're doing or working on, videos (eg for Halloween the kids made scary movies and uploaded them), and work samples for those who want to put them up (a lot of the kids like putting their Big Write stories up). I write an article on a Sunday night about what we did the previous week and what we're doing on the upcoming week so parents know what we're covering in class and I include some ideas for things they could do at home to extend their learning (eg when we were working on a specific cultural topic, I put some simple recipes up for parents to try).
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