Parental engagement was the buzz word of BECTA back in 2010 before the change in government and wider sweeping cuts put an end to the agency tasked with offering IT guidance and support to our schools. One of their many initiatives to schools was the focus on Parental Engagement and since BECTA are no longer around to advise schools, has parental engagement been shelved ?
We work with schools on a daily basis and one of the more joyful aspects of our work is getting the opportunity to help turn school improvement visions into a reality. We see first-hand that schools are under increasing funding pressure and are looking for inventive ways of getting more out of what they already have so with that in mind can schools afford not to take a second look at parental engagement?
We helped one of our academy schools who had a simple vision of getting more parents to sit with their children and ask questions about the school day, giving children an opportunity to speak with enthusiasm about what they were learning at school.
After speaking to parents they soon discovered a trend appearing. Many parents did not feel comfortable asking questions about subjects they studied at school 20+years ago and they lacked the confidence to discuss school work with their children because of this. The school needed a way of empowering parents and giving them confidence to speak to their children about school work with almost no budget available.
We worked with the senior leadership team and phase leaders and came up with a school program to help raise confidence in parents and try to bridge the gap between school and home life. We installed SIMS Intouch which is a text/e-mail based communication system built into SIMS. It is worth mentioning that e-mails are free using Intouch so it helped keep the costs of this project very low.
Working with SLT we came up with the idea of having a “One Step Ahead” e-mail sent from the teacher to all parents of their pupils on a Friday afternoon. The time taken to complete the e-mail by a teacher had to be no more than 10minutes and the content had to be informative but brief for parents.
Teachers were given a word document template which they filled in. They had a standard structure that they all used which included the following week’s classroom subject, a YouTube video link on the subject, a website link from somewhere like Bitesize and 10 prompting questions which they could ask their children throughout the week that will be covered in school. The teachers would then e-mail this to parents using Intouch.