New Headteacher Letter to Parents: Making a Positive First Impression
Joining a school can be challenging, but an exciting first step into your new role as headteacher. Your initial communications will be under scrutiny by school stakeholders as they will have been awaiting the appointment announcement since the job advert was published. Your initial role is to reassure and inspire parents whilst setting the tone for future communications and interactions. In this article, we cover what you should consider when introducing yourself to parents, how to make a confident first impression and maintain a positive working relationship with parents.
How to make a positive first impression with parents as a new headteacher
New headteachers often choose to address parents and the school community in the form of a letter, setting out their professional experience and ambitions for the school. These letters can be an effective way of introducing yourself, however, thinking outside the box for your first interaction to ensure a memorable and well-received parent introduction can start your new headship journey off with a bang. Written letters can come across as impersonal and wooden so consider using a video to help more effectively convey the passion and vision that helped secure you the role.
Whether opting for a letter or video here are several suggested topics to include when introducing yourself to parents:
What to include in your new headteacher introduction
Video introductions can be shared across your parent communications platform. Although potentially more daunting than a written letter, the impact this will have on building positive relationships with parents could be invaluable. Our Parent App is ideal for this, allowing you to share, videos, pictures and website links easily to all parents within its parent newsfeed - and having the option to share across all school social media channels too.
A personal insight
How much of your personal life should you share as an educator? A subjective topic, you can share as much or as little as you feel beneficial (and within your comfortability) with your new school community. It can be appreciated by parents to know if you are a parent yourself, new to the area or a long-standing local dweller or have hobbies or interests that may spark future clubs or be beneficial to the school.
Personal leadership style and priorities
You should include a brief explanation of your leadership style and priorities for your first term (do take care not to pigeonhole yourself into anything too specific, especially if it is your first headship, as adaptability will be key to success until you find your feet). It can be useful to reiterate the expected information, such as you are fair, have the children’s best interests at the forefront of all your decisions and are approachable.
The priorities for your school can be too in-depth to include during your introduction, but a nod towards your stance on the large topics that concern school success can be appreciated by parents: your approach to education, behaviour, and attendance etc. Especially if you have been chosen to lead the school through challenging times, tackling these issues head-on can be encouraging to parents.
Experience in education and leadership
If you are being promoted from deputy to headteacher or even as interim acting headteacher, it is important to share your intentions from the beginning of your appointment. By sharing your vision, it can help to reassure parents of your intentions and can revisit the school’s golden rules and priorities. Include in your headteacher introduction your background and how you came to be where you are now. You can include the names of previously worked-in settings if you feel this information will be beneficial and confidence-boosting for parents. You can also explain the type of settings you have worked in and some of the successes you have been integral in. Do remember that this section may be brief; remain humble but confidence-giving.
If your new school is a ‘failing’ school
If your new headship is tackling a school identified as failing or requiring improvement, parents may be additionally concerned about the changes that will be made and the immediate impact you will make as headteacher. During your introduction, address the current Ofsted grading by recognising the efforts the school community has already made and consider sharing some of the priorities you wish to address with your team first (identifying increasing parental engagement as one of your priorities can build positive morale, perception and improve attainment).
If your new school is a good or outstanding school
Joining a well-established school community that is currently successful can sometimes be harder than those settings expecting change. Parents, teachers and pupils can be reluctant to change or be open to new ideas when the current way of working is deemed effective. Reassure parents in your introduction video or letter that the school is in safe hands; you are here to continue the high standard of education, parent engagement and personal development. Explaining the use of modern technology throughout the school to make learning modern-day fit and to make online two-way communication between pupils, parents and school easier can be welcomed as a fresh approach to learning.
Specific features of your new headship school
Be mindful of the type of school your new headship position is in; it may be a faith school, a school that follows an independent curriculum or SEND specialist setting. Refer to the features that make the school unique and celebrate the reasons you were drawn to apply for the position. If there is already a strong school brand and sense of belonging, parents will appreciate the recognition of the features that makes them distinctive. Celebrate the supportive community, the strength of the parents’ contribution, the local business links the school has and your aims to develop these further.
Encourage methods of two-way communication
With the alteration of home and school interactions during the national lockdowns, parents are now more connected to schools than ever before. Harness this connectivity by sharing your communications via the school’s communication platform; this can also serve as a reminder to parents who are not yet registered to do so to avoid missing vital pieces of information. Parents appreciate having their voices heard and want to feel valued; consider reassuring parents you will regularly take their feedback on board and want to work in partnership. Consider your current communication technology, is two-way communication easy between the school and parents as well as teachers and parents (for important areas such as home learning)?
How to maintain positive parent relationships (as a new headteacher)
It is important to plan to maintain and develop the positive relationships you create through your introduction video or letter, which can be tricky due to the challenges you may face (it is impossible always to keep everyone happy). Here are a few ways you can use your school communication software to maintain positive relationships with parents:
Publish regular school newsletters
Parents like to be kept up to date with the activities their child experiences as well as any upcoming events they can participate in (parent workshops, school fairs, parents’ evenings). By publishing a regular newsletter (or splitting the newsletter into small snippets and publishing regularly across your parent newsfeed and social platforms), your parents can feel more involved and a part of the school community. You can share newsletters and updates easily through your ReachMoreParents Parent App and across all your social channels and website in one click.
Support parents with online home learning
Homework is now set using online learning platforms, which can reduce paper use, teacher workload and make homework more tailored and purposeful for all students. But with online learning come challenges for parents: accessing the technology, having subject knowledge to be able help, and knowing what homework has been set. Continue to build favour with your parents by using the ReachMoreParents Homework App, all in one place, without the need for different passwords and logins to access different sites. Help videos can be shared via the school’s communication platform to support parents’ subject knowledge and model expectations of homework for students.
Make parents feel valued and heard
Using Weduc’s survey feature included in the Parent App, surveys can be published at regular intervals to involve parents in decision-making. This small interaction can help parents to raise any concerns prior to parent-teacher meetings reducing the possibility of frustrated parents. It can help to shape the school’s educational offer to meet the needs of the school community. Consider using surveys each half term to collect feelings and opinions on important topics such as homework, school dinners, parents’ evening systems and extra-curricular activity choices.
How can ReachMoreParents help you to make a positive first impression with parents?
- Includes functionality to help communicate with hard-to-reach parents
- A website fit for purpose with parental engagement as priority.
- Parent communications are made easy through our Parent App, with the ability to share videos, pictures, documents, policies and surveys via a multimedia newsfeed to facilitate positive interactions with school families.
- Accessible and fast customer service for all users (including direct support line for parents).
- Make communications purposeful and easy with the tailored newsfeed feature on the Parent App and all features (including billing and payments) in one easy-to-use app.
- Online learning in one accessible place removes the need to remember several passwords and logins; students can receive quality online learning with personalised feedback available.
If you are a new headteacher and would like to discuss developing your parental engagement strategy at your new school, click here to book an informal chat at a time that suits you. Alternatively, drop us a line via our enquiry form, or give us a call on 01509 221 349.