Ideas for 'parent- to-school' communication methods

(30 Posts)
SunnyUpNorth Mon 06-Nov-17 22:08:39

I am helping our head set up a new method for parents to give feedback, ask questions etc in quite a transparent way.

There is currently a form on the website where a parent can ask something and the reply is visible but this is barely used. A parent can always email in or speak to the head directly, but this is more for general comments and suggestions that other parents might be interested in too.

My suggestion is a postbox for putting comments in so they can be anonymous if wanted and then a large glass covered notice board in a prominent place on an external wall. The comment/query and reply could be put up on the board for all to see.

I just wondered if anyone has any other ideas or a method that works well in their school that you could share?

Many thanks.

OP’s posts: |
C0untDucku1a Mon 06-Nov-17 22:12:11

Parents giving feedback?! On what?! And why do public and transparent? I cant see this ending well. Is it a popular idea with staff?

Whats wrong with an email ?

Jeffers3 Mon 06-Nov-17 22:18:07

Do you do a yearly parent questionnaire?
We found that really useful. If you do what you describe you many only get negative questions?? Most parents wouldn't spend any time writing one unless they were in a tizz about something.

What's the reasoning behind wanting this?

HarrietSchulenberg Mon 06-Nov-17 22:29:54

Make the website version work better and publicise it better. As a working parent who can't get to school for pickups it irks me when physical, in-school noticeboards are the main means of communication as it excludes me and many others.

Catlovingmama Tue 07-Nov-17 00:53:54

Love the idea of transparent question and answer. An anon website query system maybe through something like survey monkey would be great and the box super too but I would be scared to use in case of being seen putting the query in.

doodle01 Tue 07-Nov-17 01:01:38

surely if there is an issue speak to member of staff dont make a rod for your own back. If you suggested it you wont be popular when it goes bad.

Cavender Tue 07-Nov-17 01:03:49

A notice board will be no use for parents who work full time and are rarely in the school.

Why not publish the Q&A in the school newsletter?


Anotheroneishere Tue 07-Nov-17 01:29:52

Our school does a number of surveys that go out by email. There's always a place for additional comments.

A comment box won't get much attention.

SunnyUpNorth Tue 07-Nov-17 11:43:36

Thanks for the replies, good point about it being visible to working parents too. Publishing in the newsletter is quite a good idea.

I've expressed its purpose incorrectly, it's not for feedback on staff or big issues. Our head is very approachable in person or by email, same with staff so any issues would be dealt with directly.

It's more for things like general school related queries. Sometimes a parent might be interested in something without realising they are or they think they're the only ones wondering something but they're not. For example the hot dinner menu rota isn't adhered to very well which is a pain for me as I send my DD with a packed lunch on the days she doesn't like the hot dinner and don't on days she does. But some days the thing she doesn't like is served on the wrong day and she doesn't have a packed lunch. I have actually raised this in person but something like that might be useful to raise more publicly as it has to be affecting more children than just mine and it might put a bit more pressure on the school to stick to the menu plan as much as possible.

No one uses the website at all so don't think that's going to work. Although If it was given more prominence and people made more aware of the facility it might work.

Maybe the system isn't needed and won't be used much. Also she approached me to ask if I would help her with setting something up as in my comments on an end of year questionnaire I said I felt there should be an easier way to make suggestions or comments. Sometimes people don't bother commenting on something as they don't want to pester the head or make it formal by asking for a meeting. This was makes it easier.

OP’s posts: |
mindutopia Tue 07-Nov-17 13:08:19

Personally, I wouldn't want to be reading other parents' questions and gripes about school processes. I would be much happier if these queries are directly addressed to whoever is in charge of sorting that out at the school and the problem is just fixed. I have no time or interest in reading the chain of correspondence that lead to the practice or policy change. If anything changes, sending it out in an email as well as in the school newsletter to let me know the end result is the easiest way.

Fattymcfaterson Tue 07-Nov-17 14:32:49

Do you not have a parent council? Our school have about 6-8 parent council volunteers from various years. They meet once a term with the headmaster, all parents general concerns ect are directed to the parent Council to be brought up in the meeting.
The minutes are then typed up and sent to it via the weekly newsletter

2014newme Tue 07-Nov-17 17:41:51

I drop off and pick. Up every day and never go near the office to see any notice boards. This sounds like a lot of hassle. Of a lot of people are asking the same question then HT can just address it in the newsletter.

FridgeCut Tue 07-Nov-17 17:49:07

We have a member of staff as a named "Family Champion" and they are on the playground at pick up and drop off. Anything then goes through them and if necessary communications are made about a change or a noticeable issue.

The dinner menu not being stuck to is a serious issue and I would want to know what exactly they are playing at. My son is dairy free and I carefully choose his dinners to avoid it. If they suddenly deviated he would go hungry as he will not eat it as he knows of his issues.

SunnyUpNorth Tue 07-Nov-17 21:31:42

Some really good ideas and comments, thanks all, it is interesting to hear how this is done elsewhere.
No we don't have a parent council but that does sound like one good idea.

Does a parent rep in the playground not just get totally hassled each day?!

Yes the school meal thing is annoying (separate topic!), luckily no allergies just fussy about some things and not very assertive in asking for some bread instead etc.

OP’s posts: |
FridgeCut Tue 07-Nov-17 21:52:25

The family champion doesn't seem to be constantly mobbed, but drop off lasts 25 minutes and obviously pick up she is there 20-30 minutes so time to talk to those who want to.

Ifonlyoneday Tue 07-Nov-17 23:30:11

We have a parent forum, open to all meets once a term and works well. I do think the surveys are useful if a particular topic is highlighted. Survey monkey or similar would work well. I don't think the noticeboard works well.

I find the text message system and emailed newsletters are best and quickest for communications out from school.

Parent forum, emails and verbal contact best for queries questions to the school.

CustardDoughnutsRule Tue 07-Nov-17 23:44:18

Parent forum where people can add suggestions anonymously or by email.

One idea I like is that every term or so, the school sends out a "You said... We did" piece, via newsletter or email. It's a good way to turn the negative into a positive. School gets to present the changes as a positive piece they're leading rather than just reacting to individual gripes in dribs and drabs.

The survey as suggested above would be a good place to collate issues. It would need a free text box and someone's time to go through all the responses of course.

Cavender Wed 08-Nov-17 03:20:10

Parent forum where people can add suggestions anonymously or by email.

I’m not sure that anonymous is appropriate, it’s far too open to abuse.

I firmly believe that people should have the courage of their convictions. If you are prepared to raise it publicly you should be prepared to put your name against it.

Ifonlyoneday Wed 08-Nov-17 06:11:36

Parent forum meeting, in the evening, people to attend ideally, although emails can be submitted for those who can attend. Childcare is provided by school freee whilst the forum meets. So not anonymous.

Items to be raised in a positive manner. E.g in the example given above re lunches it would be. "It would really help us as parents if the days of the menu could be followed because .... blah , blah, blah and this would make it easier for us and our children"

Catlovingmama Wed 08-Nov-17 14:31:13

Cav, honestly I wouldn't feel confident enough of the reaction to raise stuff openly.

Catlovingmama Wed 08-Nov-17 14:31:52

Like the idea of a you said we did forum. Even if it's sometimes you said but we couldn't and here's why

Catlovingmama Wed 08-Nov-17 14:32:10

Forum? I meant update!

SunnyUpNorth Thu 09-Nov-17 18:15:57

Thanks all, rally interesting.

I really like the 'you said, we did' idea on the newsletter. I think a parent forum would work well too. I shall deliver all these ideas!!

OP’s posts: |
AlwaysTimeForWine Sun 19-Nov-17 10:23:46

We have a ‘parent rep’ system. One for each class and they meet with the head once a term. Parents can forward questions to the rep (which the parent rep might be able to answer anyway) or the rep can bring questions to the meeting, or if urgent act as a go between with the school. It can be confidential and anonymous then - as parents don’t want to appear moany but might have little feedback items.
It’s also an avenue for great feedback from parents as well; that everyone loved X event, or great projects or assemblies etc.

It’s interesting as sometimes every class will raise the same stuff which highlights that it’s an issue affecting the whole school. Or one class may all be confused about the marking method used by a new teacher.

The teachers can also use their reps as a method of asking for stuff - like shoe boxes, old shirts for painting aprons, helpers for reading etc.

It seems to work well as we’ve had it in place for 5 years.

AlwaysTimeForWine Sun 19-Nov-17 10:24:10

Also the reps will remind the class of events or forward stuff from the PTA.

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