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Schools engaging with working parents - any creative ideas...?

(117 Posts)
Pheckwittageisms Fri 11-Mar-16 18:58:44

Hi - I'd love to know if there are any (state) schools that do this well? If so, please please please tell me what they do well and how they achieve it. I'm approaching insanity with the ridiculous number of meetings/info sessions/assemblies during school time which I can't attend because it means taking a half day off to be there for 20 minutes at a time. If I was going to everything timetabled for the next 2 weeks for both children, I'd practically need a holiday from school in order to go to work. Guilt and upset children aside, there is a fundamental lack of appreciation for what it's like to try and juggle this stuff as a working parent and although I'd dearly love to be there more (and this is all positive stuff they're doing), I can't manage it on top of trying to coordinate school hols as well. --now that I've had my toddler tantrum--I'd like to make some positive and creative suggestions rather than just rant, so just wondered if anyone had good/creative experiences to share? Inspire me with your wisdom! Thanks so much.

Pheckwittageisms Fri 11-Mar-16 18:58:58

Hi - I'd love to know if there are any (state) schools that do this well? If so, please please please tell me what they do well and how they achieve it. I'm approaching insanity with the ridiculous number of meetings/info sessions/assemblies during school time which I can't attend because it means taking a half day off to be there for 20 minutes at a time. If I was going to everything timetabled for the next 2 weeks for both children, I'd practically need a holiday from school in order to go to work. Guilt and upset children aside, there is a fundamental lack of appreciation for what it's like to try and juggle this stuff as a working parent and although I'd dearly love to be there more (and this is all positive stuff they're doing), I can't manage it on top of trying to coordinate school hols as well. --now that I've had my toddler tantrum--I'd like to make some positive and creative suggestions rather than just rant, so just wondered if anyone had good/creative experiences to share? Inspire me with your wisdom! Thanks so much.

roguedad Fri 11-Mar-16 19:08:49

I got really fed up with the whole thing. We had a parents' "evening" starting at 3.30. We moved school eventually.

Littlefish Fri 11-Mar-16 20:40:43

We hold evening meetings for the following:

Sex ed info evening
Early Years reading meetings
Parent information evenings each October
Information meetings for residential trips
Maths evenings (repeated during the day)
Internet safety
Parents evenings (one early session straight after school and one late evening session which doesn't finish until 8.45pm)

These meetings start at either 6 or 7pm. However, we then get complaints that people can't get babysitters.

Obviously, we also have lots of stuff that goes on during the day. However, we try and do it at the beginning of the day so parents can combine it with the school drop off, or only have to take an hour off work/go in late.

AKissACuddleAndACheekyFinger Fri 11-Mar-16 20:45:58

Our primary school videos assemblies and puts them in a parents' only (you need a password) section on the website. Even when I go to the assembly proper I always sit with the boys and rewatch their performances with them. Great fun, and means grandparents etc. Can see it too.

Kennington Fri 11-Mar-16 20:53:57

I never remember parents being in school when I was a child. Why? Does it help with discipline?
I dont go to anything though.

Littlefish Fri 11-Mar-16 21:01:37

Nothing to do with discipline, Kennington. Lots of parents want to be involved, and want to know more about what their child is doing at school, so we try and give lots of opportunities for them to do so, in different ways.

AKiss - I love the idea of videoing assemblies. I might suggest it!

Parker231 Fri 11-Mar-16 21:03:36

My DT's are now at Uni but their school, particularly junior use to really annoy me - they had no understanding of both parents working full time. We used breakfast and after school clubs so couldn't attend meetings/events at the start of the day - these tended to be at 9.30. DH is a GP so couldn't cancel his surgeries and I work throughout the UK with regular trips to the States. I challenged the school many times why we couldn't be notified at the beginning of each term so that we would have a chance of trying to schedule our working lives with time for the school appointments but nothing ever changed.

ruddynorah Fri 11-Mar-16 21:17:29

I just accept there's some I can do and some I can't. I can do daytime things if I swap a shift or it's on my day off. I can't do evening things though as I'm a lone parent with few babysitter options.

LoveBoursin Fri 11-Mar-16 21:26:37

Nope our school isnt great either.

They ARE trying though, incl having parents evening much later at night (up to 7.30pm) so that both parents can come (better than 3.30pm...)

They are also trying to let us know in advance of the plays etc...

What they are not good at is any advance notice for tournaments etc... With the expectations of 'picking up the child at xx place at 3.30pm' which means that the child can't go because they can't go to after s book club afterwards (or the dreaded the child will be coming back at 4.00pm when they are picked up by a childminder)
I'm finding that having a HT and deputy HT that have young DC and two working parents does help though!

MsMermaid Fri 11-Mar-16 21:30:16

I don't go to much at dd2 school, literally just parents evening and we get appointments as late as possible (they run from 4-6). They do loads of meetings and assemblies, I can't go, but DD doesn't seem particularly upset by it, she knows we have to work. I don't think I'd go to many things in the evenings either, I'm busy then too, and I trust the school to do their job so I don't feel they urgently need my input. I don't need their input urgently about anything either.

Helenluvsrob Fri 11-Mar-16 21:30:26

Mine are 16 and up now. It was a bloody nightmare the " must bring a parent/ carer on Wednesday next week for our activity that will explain all the maths curriculum for the year "

And the tears from them and guilt from us when we couldn't , obviously drop everything and go !

MeMySonAndl Fri 11-Mar-16 21:33:01

I really appreciate that DS' School sends all notifications by email. His previous school was absolutely rubbish, you could only take advantage of good opportunities if you were working in the school or were part of the PTA.

starry0ne Fri 11-Mar-16 21:39:25

We have termly meetings to update parents important stuff..How much money we will be asked for trips..topic...etc.. after asking for opinions they now put notes from meeting on printout for parents who can't attend.

The worst was to come in and look at Topic homework..By the time We had completed DS model I have no desire to see it again and no interest in anyone else's child..I can only see competitive parents interested..

Our PSA meetings are in the evening.. I don't attend..

I think no matter what school do can't accommodate everyone

drspouse Fri 11-Mar-16 21:50:21

I'm dreading this, our DC1 starts school in September. The two DCs attend my workplace nursery at the moment which means I can nip over if I need to e.g. DC1's keyworker only works mornings so holds parents meetings at lunchtime (though all the others are after sessions end they can usually push them after 6 so DH can go). We'll be using after school club and/or a CM too.

I'm also dreading all the "get X made for dress up/topic/easter bonnet." We have little available locally in the way of shopping (nothing at all I can get to at lunchtime or I can't park when I get back!) and some of the schools seem to have a dress up day monthly with a week's notice. It already happens at nursery but DC1 doesn't really pay much attention to peer pressure yet. EBay doesn't always deliver that quickly...

TheyreMadITellYouMaaaad Fri 11-Mar-16 21:53:15

We keep getting letters "LittleMaaad has been selected for the cross country team for Xyz event at Suchnsuch location." Hooray! Really pleased for him.

Except that it's in the middle of the school day and we have to arrange transport. Often at less than a week's notice.

When I brought this up, school suggested that I lift-share. Except that I don't know who else is going, neither does ds, and school won't tell me because of Data Protection!

irvine101 Sat 12-Mar-16 06:44:50

At my ds's school, meetings are held in the evening, around 7. Also parents evenings are going late until around 8:30 as a last appointment.
But even evening meetings, only a handful of parents turn up.
AS for school play, sports day etc., they give us the date at the beginning of the year, so parents can arrange time off etc.

Bounced Sat 12-Mar-16 07:04:09

We have the school calendar online, plus a weekly newsletter which gives all events for the next two weeks plus important ones further ahead. That helps a lot.

They've started doing briefings at 8.30-9.00 on SATS, new curriculum etc which would be great if it wasn't the one day I have to be in work by 8.00. But it's better than 9.00 or 3.30.

WavingNotDrowning Sat 12-Mar-16 07:04:39

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

blackteaplease Sat 12-Mar-16 07:12:51

Our school is terrible. When dc1 started year 1 there was a parent meeting to discuss the national curriculum. Very good idea except they notified us at 4pm on a Friday for 3pm on the following Monday. Too late for me to rearrange client meetings. They promised to email a summary of the meeting but despite me chasing it never materialised.

mrz Sat 12-Mar-16 07:15:48

I'm not sure there us an answer that would satisfy everyone.

Videoing us great unless there are children in the class whose parents have refused permission for images to be shared or with a safeguarding issue.

trollopolis Sat 12-Mar-16 07:34:43

No, there is no one single answer that will suit all families whilst not being onerous on teachers.

However, using a variety of approaches mean you can please and piss off everyone over the course of the school year, rather than always pleasing one or two groups and pissing off the rest.

Firstly, communication. This really matters. I sometimes thing schools can forget that families go to great lengths to make sure their children attend school properly and arrange working lives, children's activities and siblings around this. So what is coming up in school needs to be communicated clearly (when, what, what your DC needs for it) and in good time (it is the same amount of admin effort to send a notification in good time as at the last minute, and much better for all families whether working or not).

And the bit I can't say strongly enough - and even though it should be stating the obvious it still needs saying - all school staff need to be reminded frequently that parents may need to make arrangements around school even dates and things like shifts at work and siblings medical appointments cannot be rescheduled on 48 hours notice or whatever. Late changes should be exceptionally rare.

See if a PTA rep can be invited to attend any school meetings where communication with families will be discussed, so there is a chance for the parents view to be considered.

Secondly, actual events. Some have to be in the school day. There should be a balance of those in the morning (not long after drop off), afternoon (run up to or immediately after pick up) and evening. Some will suit some people, depending on working patterns and if they have other children to consider. But my aim here is to spread the convenience/inconvenience rather than having it all set at one time.

Thirdly, the school needs to send out good leaflets for those who cannot attend information events, and do so promptly. It always slightly boggles me that, if the school wants you to know something badly enough to run an event about it, it's not automatically and self-evidently important enough to provide information in other forms too.

It's all about finding a balance. There isn't a perfect one. And of course there probably will still be parents who turn up to nothing.

Believeitornot Sat 12-Mar-16 07:42:52

There is a balance and the balance needs to be on both sides (school and parent)

Both dh and I work and we both try and take as much time as we can to attend assemblies etc at school. We can't always make every one but we do our best. That's the result of having children!

I also expect the school to be flexible about things like parents evenings. In fact ds's school offer times from end of school day until the evening which really helps.

mrz Sat 12-Mar-16 07:50:01

Since many teachers are also parents they are very aware of the problems

Washediris Sat 12-Mar-16 08:01:04

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

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