Reaching parents: The challenges schools face in our multi-channel age
In today’s tech-centric and hyperconnected world, it’s easy to assume parents are more reachable than ever. Gone are the days of paper permission slips, flimsy forms, and endless letters that often end up stuffed at the bottom of school bags. Instead, a wide range of communication channels is allowing schools to connect with parents in real-time, using popular digital tools like email, SMS, social media, and website posts to put important information directly in parents’ hands.
But more channels doesn’t automatically lead to more meaningful parental engagement and reach. Parents can feel like they are being bombarded from every direction with a scattergun approach to communication, especially in complex school settings with multiple points of contact. Too many alerts or messages in too many formats makes the most valuable information harder to consume.
What’s more, some families already struggle to communicate with their child’s school, due to language barriers, time constraints, lack of access to technology, or a range of other structural obstacles. When these lines of communication fail, the gap between home and school becomes even wider.
A multi-channel approach to school communications opens many doors for greater parental engagement and collaboration. Providing parents with as many ways as possible to connect with their child’s school can only be a good thing – but schools need support in handling this multi-channel strategy. Too many schools are losing precious time and resources to the complexities of updating multiple channels, logging into several systems and accounts to deliver just one message to parents. This can dilute the quality of communication, making it harder for schools to drive meaningful engagement.
As the spotlight falls on parental engagement as a key driver of educational success, schools need to extend their reach far beyond the school gates – and even further beyond SMS and social media. Schools can connect with more parents by offering an intuitive, mobile-friendly app that works with all devices, with all communication consolidated within a single, easy-to-use platform.
The fact that parental engagement improves pupil outcomes is no secret. If it ever was, Ofsted let the cat out of the bag in 2012 when it added parental engagement as one of the judgement criteria in school inspections. Parents don’t need to get involved in the PTA or regularly show up at school to be actively engaged in their child’s education. But they do need to be reached to be fully engaged – and when parent-school communication is done right, pupils benefit from a powerful partnership.
Why, then, are some parents so hard to reach? The feeling is often mutual – parents can find schools very hard to reach, too!
Parents get frustrated when they are sent messages they don’t need to see. They want the right level of contact at the right time, with lines of communication available at their point of need. Parents also want to be treated as individuals with different preferences and circumstances – just like how their children are treated at school. These needs can be met with a targeted engagement system that enables continuous, efficient, and convenient two-way communication.
The Reach More Parents platform by Weduc makes tracking responses easy, allowing schools to retarget hard-to-reach parents and personalise communications with up-to-date information on preferences and priorities. It also helps parents to unlock the benefits of today’s multimedia age. We all have our favourite ways of consuming different media types – from written text to video content, podcasts, still images and more – and schools are using Reach More Parents by Weduc to diversify their content, sending a wider choice to parents to capture their attention and interest in learning.
What’s more, a message only needs to be entered once – the platform then publishes the information to multiple channels including social media, website, email, and text, enabling schools to painlessly get important messages in front of as many eyeballs as possible, in only a fraction of the time.
Breaking down barriers
Communication can be challenging, especially when parents have English as an Additional Language or lack tech confidence. ReachMoreParents takes the complexity out of parental engagement by providing a simplified, social media-style platform that is easy to navigate, with a range of language translations available.
Technology has made it possible to reach and engage with more parents, in more meaningful and inclusive ways.
If you would like to learn more about how we can help you reach more parents than any other system, please click here.