There are so many technology tools out there to help you improve your communications with your school’s key stakeholders but how do you separate the good from the bad?
Parental engagement is consistently associated with pupils’ success at school. A research report commissioned by the Department for Education in 2010 stated that parental engagement has a large and positive impact on children’s learning.
In the new Ofsted inspection framework, parental engagement is judged as successful only to the degree that it has a clear and positive impact on children’s outcomes. In order to obtain an outstanding judgement for Leadership and Management you have to evidence that:
“The school has highly successful strategies for engaging with parents and carers, to the very obvious benefit of pupils, including those who might traditionally find working with the school difficult.”
Moreover, the inspection process takes into account the views of parents, pupils, and staff –
parent’s perceptions of the school are therefore vital.
Do you know what your pupils’ parents think about your school?
If you are looking for a tool to improve your school’s engagement with parents, there are4 benefits that your parental engagement tool must be able to offer.
1. Communicate with parents/carers in the channels that they use everyday
Parents now communicate in a range of different channels. The most obvious change over recent years is the increase of parent communities on social media, for example, in private facebook groups. This has not been a traditional area for school’s to communicate with parents in the past, however, it is crucial, especially when sending urgent information, that information is disseminated to parents as quickly as possible and to the channel that they engage with the most.
Making the most of the channels that your audience use every day also allows them to confidently engage with you. Technology has huge potential to involve parents with the school which in turn facilitates greater learning at home and encourages greater parental involvement in school activities. It is important that parents feel comfortable using whatever technology you choose to communicate with them, as empowers them to confidently engage with the school.
Engaging with parents in the channels they already use not only increases the value of your communications for the parents but also makes your job easier as parents are already familiar with the channel and are therefore more likely and able to engage with you.
2. Track the effectiveness of your communications with parents/carers
Many schools consider their parental engagement to be very successful. However, when asked more closely it becomes clear that the school’s communications are largely information, with the school pushing out information with no clarity around the parent’s level of engagement with them. Having a communications tool where you can monitor your audience’s response to your texts, emails, or letters is important to improving communications in the future and making sure they are effective.
Also, when schools are informing parents of important school updates, such as snow day announcements or broken boilers, it is crucial that the school knows this information is being received and read. Real-time tracking in parental engagement tools allows schools to monitor how many people have opened and read their communications, and assess whether another communication needs to be sent out.
3. Build a two-way conversation
Engagement with parents should be an ongoing conversation. Engagement should not just be confined to sending out announcements and newsletters; it should be an opportunity to discover what parent’s think, what works for them, and to collect and analyze their feedback. By doing this schools are able to make changes and improve processes in line with parent’s views. For example, if you sent out a questionnaire to all parents about what day of the week and what time of the day would be best to contact them, you can tailor your future communications to be more effective and also prove to Ofsted that you are engaging with parents in the way that they want to be engaged with.
Being able to embed videos, questions forms, QR codes and other similar engagement features in your communications allows schools to really engage with parents beyond simply giving them information.
4. Easy to use
For parental engagement to be sustainable it needs to be easy to adopt and easy to manage.
Managing communications with lots of parents, especially across many channels, can be a challenging and time consuming task. How do you communicate with all of your pupils parents, make sure they are successfully engaging with them, and then improving your strategy based on this success? An easy to use platform to manage all of these communications is crucial to making engagement with parents as successful as possible.
Take a look here for some ideas on the apps available through RM Unify which can help you to improve parental engagement.