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Is your MAT onboarding new schools? Align your comms effectively

Tuesday, 20 February 2024 by Weduc

When welcoming new schools this academic year, remember, integration isn't just about lining up curricula and administrative procedures. Another crucial piece of the puzzle is making sure that the way the school communicates with parents and students meshes well with the MAT's established methods.

It's not just about aligning what is said but also how it's said, where it's said, and how often. Why is it vital to get this mix right? And what does a well-blended way of communicating mean for the health of your MAT? 

Let's start by answering these questions to uncover the good things that come from a well-matched communication style. Then we’ll dive into the process of aligning your communication strategy when integrating new schools. 

Communications alignment: the success multiplier 

Even when schools hold their autonomy, aligning communication across the board is worthwhile. It makes everything run more smoothly and saves time. Let's say something big comes up that affects all the schools. You can prepare a standard update, and the individual schools can sprinkle in their own personal touches. Preventing a flurry of different messages, potential confusion, and wasted time.

Moreover, during challenges like health emergencies, a unified strategy delivers quick, coordinated responses, with clear roles for sharing updates, liaising with authorities, and handling the media.

But the bigger picture goes beyond just making things simpler. Using the same approach across the board helps your MAT get inside knowledge on how parents view the school and judge how well you’re communicating - integral for success. 

Strengthen school-parent ties 

For a new school joining the fold, it's vital to elevate its communication standards to match those of your established schools.

Solid communication boosts parent engagement, helping them feel connected and clued-in about school happenings. This involvement builds trust, creating happier parents more likely to keep their children enrolled. This is vital when student populations fluctuate due to shifting demographics, like families frequently moving or varying numbers of school-aged children in the area. Consistent student numbers are key to the success of a school and, in turn, the whole MAT.

Robust communication practices not only contribute to increased student retention but also amplify your MAT's reputation. A strong reputation can attract more parents to register their children and make your Trust a preferred choice for other schools seeking to join.

It’s also worth noting that Ofsted values active, meaningful parental engagement, seeing it as a marker of effective leadership. That’s a powerful endorsement for the value of your MAT’s communication strategy. It could potentially boost a school’s Ofsted report and elevate the whole Trust. Keep this opportunity in mind when integrating a new school. It’s another reason why aligning their communication to your tried and tested approach is a tool for success. 

You might be thinking, 'This all sounds great, but how do we effectively bring the new school into our MAT's communication strategy to reap these rewards?' Let's delve into that. 

A plan for synchronising your communications 

When a school already has an established communication strategy, usually the aim is to harmonise rather than start from scratch. Here's a rundown of key steps:

1. Assess the existing strategy

Learn how the school communicates. What methods do they use to get their messages across? How often do they send updates? What sort of things do they talk about? Figure out what they're good at and what could be better. See where things match up with your MAT’s communication strategy and where they might clash. For example, the school might be great at using social media but don't send out regular newsletters like your other schools do.

2. Define clear, trackable goals

List the targets you want your joint strategy to hit. A key goal should be to get parents more involved if satisfaction levels are low. Strive for a consistent, coherent message to be communicated across all schools in your Trust, and streamline processes to maintain efficiency. Keep track of these goals. For example, plan to boost scores in parent feedback surveys. That way, you can see how well you're doing, tweak things if needed, and show your wins with solid numbers.

3. Create an integration plan 

Sketch out a plan to merge the school's communication style with the MAT's. This could mean taking on some of the MAT's ways, tweaking the topics that are covered, or shifting how news is shared. Keep everyone - staff, parents, and students - in the loop about these upcoming changes through regular updates via your preferred communication method. Welcome their thoughts and tackle any worries.

4. Roll out gradually

Avoid unsettling people with sudden changes. Instead, introduce updates bit by bit, from the simpler to the bigger ones, letting everyone get used to the new ways. Also, don't forget to support your staff through this transition. Run workshops or online sessions to teach them any new communication tools or tactics. Keep offering help and listen to their feedback as they adapt to the new system.

5. Monitor and Refine

After rolling out the changes, don't just let things run. Keep tabs on how it's working out by looking at how well goals are being met, what parents and staff think, and any bumps in the road. Be flexible and willing to adjust the strategy based on these insights.

While the steps above provide a clear plan for integrating a new school into your MAT's communication strategy, it can still be a complex and time-consuming task. That's where a tool like ReachMoreParents, a communication and engagement platform, can makes things easier. 

Simplify integration with ReachMoreParents

Adding a new school to your MAT provides an opportunity to see how well your current communication methods work. Perhaps your current schools all have different ways of communicating, and while the system isn’t broken, it could be working a lot better.

ReachMoreParents can help make sure your schools' communication methods are consistently high-quality. When all your schools use the same advanced tool for communication, you can have better control over how they engage with parents, leading to improved satisfaction overall.

And, when it's time to bring a new school into your system, it's a much smoother process. You can offer them a single tool to line up their communication methods with yours. The steps mentioned above still apply - you'll need to set up an integration plan, offer training and advice, and keep an eye on how things are progressing. But all of these steps become simpler because the platform pulls everything together.

Check out these key features of the app and some helpful tips for making it easier for both existing and new schools to adopt the platform.

1. Personalise the platform with your branding 

With ReachMoreParents, you can personalise the platform with your MAT's branding. This means as soon as a new school comes on board, they’re immediately part of your identity. Parents and students seeing the familiar branding on communications from the new school are reassured of its integration into the Trust. This familiarity brings comfort, easing the transition and fostering smoother acceptance of the new communication system.

2. Stick to one channel for clear communication 

Set up ReachMoreParents as the go-to communication channel, and you'll make things easier for all schools in your MAT. We have plenty of success stories to prove this. A one-tool approach means less juggling and more control over communication quality. When you bring a new school on board, integration is seamless, thanks to this single platform management. Plus, its features, like messaging, smooth out parent-school interactions, saving your MAT time on boosting parent engagement.

3. Make adoption easier with training videos

The ReachMoreParents team is always ready to assist. We offer training videos for each school's specific needs. Say your new school has a staff member tasked with managing the school calendar and another responsible for taking payments. We create tailored guides on how to use our calendar and payments features effectively. These guides ease the transition and get your new school up and running swiftly.

4. Easily measure progress 

Imagine a single communication tool like ReachMoreParents that gives you everything you need at your fingertips. You're tracking read receipts, gauging response times, and measuring parent engagement all in one go. You get a full view of all your schools' communication performances, simplifying adjustments to your strategies. This ensures your MAT's communication stays effective, on track, and ready for integrating new schools seamlessly.

5. Simplify communication policy creation 

One of the challenges when bringing a new school into your MAT? Making sure they adopt the same communication practices as your other schools. ReachMoreParents simplifies this. You can quickly set up guidelines for using various features, like when to send mass messages versus individual ones, or when newsletters should go out. These clear rules make sure the new school adopts the same approach as your other schools right from the start, making integration smoother while providing a consistent experience for all parents. 

Ease your expansion 

Harmonising your MAT's communication strategy with new schools is essential for smooth operations and parent satisfaction. It might seem daunting, but ReachMoreParents makes things more manageable. It offers consistent communication, customised training, progress tracking, and makes creating communication policies much easier. So, as you welcome a new school into your MAT, know you have a powerful tool at your disposal with ReachMoreParents, streamlining the journey towards successful communication.

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