Online or in-person? The changing landscape of school parents evening
Like many aspects of life in and outside of school, parents evening was hugely impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic. With schools off-limits for everyone but staff and children for much of 2020 and 2021, school leaders had to adapt to whole new processes to keep the line of communication open with parents. Online parents evenings became the norm, allowing teachers and parents to come together and ensure students were staying on track throughout the most unusual of times.
However, even though face-to-face parents evenings are now possible again, some schools are still opting to take their evenings online – finding that there are many benefits for teachers and parents alike. So, let’s take a look at all the pros and cons of in-person and virtual parents evenings, and discover how parents evening software can be an ally for both options.
In-person parents evenings – the pros and cons
Pro: Parents get access to the school
Parents evenings have long since been one of the few opportunities parents get to interact with their child’s learning environment, gaining a rare insight into life inside the school. This gives them a greater understanding of their child’s day-to-day life outside the home.
Pro: Face-to-face conversations are more natural
Despite us all being more used to video calls these days, there’s still no substitution for a face-to-face conversation, especially when it comes to broaching sensitive or emotional topics relating to a child’s education.
Pro: Parents with less access to technology aren’t excluded
Not all parents have access to technology or are confident using it, so giving them the option to come to the school in-person caters to a wide range of accessibility needs.
Con: Some parents may be unable to travel
On the flipside of accessibility issues, by not hosting your parents evening online, you may be excluding parents who are unable to travel for medical reasons or feelings of anxiety about being in an unfamiliar space.
Con: Appointment times are less flexible
Traditional in-person parents evenings are often undertaken in the evenings after school, and many parents have to rush back from work or arrange childcare to attend – which can leave them feeling flustered when they do arrive.
Con: Meetings often run over
When parents evening appointments take place face-to-face, they are more likely to run over time, which has a knock-on effect throughout the evening. This is not only inconvenient for parents, but adds extra stress for teachers, too.
Virtual parents evenings – the pros and cons
Pro: They offer convenience
By hosting your parents evening online, parents can book appointments at a time that suits them – without having to rearrange work commitments or battle through evening traffic. They can simply log in wherever and whenever suits them.
Pro: You have greater control over timing
With the help of online timers and virtual waiting rooms, teachers can set clear time boundaries and book in follow-up meetings for cases where further discussion is required.
Pro: There are less organisational concerns
A physical parents evening is a huge event to organise in the school calendar. Often, sports halls are filled with desks and the whole place requires extra cleaning and staff members. But when you go virtual, your teachers simply need a laptop and a quiet space to sit.
Con: Parents lose access to the school
For parents whose children started school during the pandemic, there may have been limited opportunities for them to come into the school and interact with the learning environment. Hosting parents evening online only extends this barrier.
Con: It’s harder to build relationships
Being able to speak face-to-face builds a relationship between a teacher and parent, and establishes a sense of trust between both parties. When parents evening is hosted virtually, difficult conversations can be harder to broach, and things may get lost in translation.
Read more: Parents’ evening: how to avoid the no-shows.
Reach More Parents by Weduc: providing the ally for the best parents evening experience
Clearly, there are several pros and cons to both in-person and virtual parents evenings – which makes it no surprise that many schools are opting for a hybrid approach that gives parents the opportunity to choose the option that works for them.
Plus, there are ways to remove barriers and make both types of events run more smoothly: with a parents evening app like Reach More Parents by Weduc’s leading Parents Evening System.
Our software seamlessly integrates with the Reach More Parents platform to enable you to manage all your parents evening tasks in one place – while also removing the need for parents to use multiple systems simultaneously. And there are many other benefits:
- Save time for teachers
Teachers can schedule in their rest breaks between meetings and limit the length of appointments to make sure everything runs to time.
- More flexibility for parents
Parents can choose an appointment time that suits them, and get reminders of that appointment time to make managing their diary easier.
- Less admin for school staff
Staff will spend less time phoning home to chase parents on booking their slot, and gain a complete report to gauge attendance rates afterwards.
- Compatible with online parents evenings
The Parents Evening System offers video calls to remove access barriers and make sure every parent feels comfortable attending. Plus, with a hybrid approach, you can run smaller in-person events and reduce staffing demands at your school.
Just like the other areas of your school management, you want to make sure as many parents as possible can engage with parents evening and gain insight into their child’s education – while easing the burden on your teachers.
That’s where we come in at Reach More Parents by Weduc, offering several tools to effectively communicate with and engage all parents – even the most difficult to reach. Chat with our team today about our Parents Evening System or explore our other solutions.