As a school and as educators it’s fair to say you really know your stuff. Your knowledge about education, the world of teaching, managing students, workload and staff stretches far and wide – not to mention the subjects you teach day in and day out.
Schools have so much to offer, not only to their students but also to the wider community – if only they had the time and resource. They are a focal point in a village, town or city. It’s where many people meet every day to drop off their kids and pick them up. Could schools be doing more then, for the greater good of the community and be more inclusive environments for both young and old – and everyone in-between?
Communication with parents/grandparents/guardians
Getting parents/grandparents/guardians involved in school life is a great way to get the community integrated with your establishment. It has been proven that the most significant aspect of parental support in education is in supporting learning in the home. This could be helping with homework, ensuring the home environment is conducive to study, encouraging conversations about learning and showing an interest in the school day. Parents and guardians expect great communication these days and most would prefer to know as much as possible about how their child is progressing. If you bring parents close to what’s happening in school and involve them in what’s going on, you naturally create more of a sense of community and increased enthusiasm for the greater good of the school.
The alumni community
Your alumni community is an invaluable network of ambassadors, advocates and supporters, and can be a fantastic source of inspiration to your students. Past pupils at Drayton Manor High School for example include singer Jay Kay, the frontman for Jamiroquai, Tottenham and England footballer Peter Crouch and rock star Rick Wakeman. Highgate Wood Comprehensive in North London has alumni such as ITV’s political editor Robert Peston, DJ and singer Sonique, former England footballer Laurie Cunningham and fashion designer Ozwald Boateng. Maintaining good relationships with your alumni and involving them in school life where possible will provide great motivation for current students and impress their parents too. Alumni are also good sources of support for endorsing your fundraising campaigns.
Night school or evening classes used to be much more prevalent than they are today. Many of us used to attend evening classes after a full day at work – maybe to improve our foreign language skills as a hobby, gain new qualifications to help us progress our careers, or even take yoga classes. This is happening less and less now, with more than a million fewer adults taking part in classroom-based education than a decade ago – down by a third. Yet renting out sports pitches to local clubs, or classrooms to foreign language teachers or silver surfer classes can generate extra revenue for your school – and provide a sanctuary for adults looking to learn or keep fit in the evenings.
Communicating through the cloud is the most effective way schools can liaise with all different types of people, inside and outside of school. This is also made easier by having up-to-date and accurate management information systems. Your ICT team should be able to advise you on both of these points. If they are unable to spare the time, contact a third party ICT provider who will be able to talk you through the technologies available to make communication with parents, the community and alumni groups far easier.