‘We need to tell parents about…’ must be one of the most frequent phrases uttered by teachers and school leaders. It’s easy to see why – when parents are involved, pupils will “do better and achieve more”. In short, reaching parents improves pupil outcomes.
It’s a challenge to close the achievement gap between children on the Pupil Premium and those from more advantaged families when 80% of it can be attributed to experiences outside of school. Reaching parents and involving them in the learning process could make all the difference to the children who need it most.
Let’s look at six ways that schools can close the gap in both communication and attainment.
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One: letters sent by ‘pupil post’
Why pay for postage when your pupils will be seeing their parents later that day? It’s cheaper and faster than the Royal Mail!
…or, at least, that’s the theory.
It doesn’t matter how it’s managed, ‘pupil post’ is notoriously unreliable. Crumpled letters at the bottom of rucksacks just don’t get read. And that’s when the letter contains good news! Pupils who are carrying bad news make the worst postmen…
Two: notes in pupil planners
In most schools, pupils have a planner or diary. It’s one of the most important bits of school stationery – allowing pupils to learn organisational skills and keep a track of their homework tasks.
There’s also a handy little section for teachers and parents to communicate with each other. The weekly school ritual of having the planner signed by both parent/carer and form/class teacher ensures that the notes get seen.
It’s not the most timely of communication and nor does it allow for great detail but it certainly works.
Three: phone calls home
If you want to be certain that messages have been both received and understood, then nothing beats a phone call. It’s a natural and time-honoured form of communication that presents a level of personalisation that can’t be achieved in writing.
The only downside of phone calls is that they are as time-bound as they are time-honoured. Teachers can’t call every parent every day (or even every week). That’s a scale that more easily achieved through another form of communication by phone…
Four: text messages (SMS) to parents
A proven and cost-effective method of reaching parents and getting them involved in school is to send them regular text messages. It’s a fast way of making sure that upcoming tests and other important dates are known, which gives parents the opportunity to support their children.
While being both immediate and reliable, it doesn’t provide an indication of how many parents read the message or a lot of room for detail. Those features can be provided by another modern medium…
Five: emails to parents
Email allows schools to send pretty much any type of information to parents. Near-infinite quantities of text, photographs, calendars, links to video footage and anything else that you can think of.
Email is practically omnipresent – computers, tablets and smartphones all give parents plenty of opportunities to check communications from the school. The only challenge? Spam filters and the ‘noise’ of a full inbox.
Wouldn’t it be great if there was a platform that allowed schools to make use of the immediacy of text messages and the flexibility of email?
Six: apps for schools
You’re in luck. While text messages and email are 20th century technologies, smartphone and tablet apps are very much 21st century. Designed in an age where analytics and notifications have matured, an app for your school can send notifications straight to parents’ phones and follow that up with plenty of detail within the app itself.
As easy to use as sending an email but with the deliverability of SMS, school apps are a great way to engage parents in the learning process and deliver improved pupil outcomes.
At Piota, we create fully customised apps that you can use to help in reaching parents. Even better, our streamlined process means that you could be unveiling your new app in just two weeks. Click here to get your free, no-obligation consultation.