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What do parents want from your school’s communications?

Friday, 14 June 2024 by Weduc

What do parents want from your school’s communications?

Potentially the most important relationship in the smooth running of a school is the parent-teacher relationship. This is because the evidence indicates that pupils with a parent who is engaged in their education are more likely to do well at school. In fact, it’s been suggested that having an engaged parent can add two to three years to a child’s education. As a result, the recent Ofsted framework even places an emphasis on parent-teacher communication.

So, we recently carried out our school parent communication survey, asking both parents and school staff how they feel about their school’s communications. The aim was to help schools make informed decisions about any changes they need to make to their communications strategy.

Keep reading to find out what the results revealed about parents’ common challenges with their child’s school’s communications.

 

Barriers to parent-teacher communication

Fostering appropriate communication between parents and teachers isn’t as simple as it sounds. For example, while the parents of primary school pupils may speak with their child’s teachers at the school gate, this is much less likely to happen when children reach secondary school age. But communication once a year on parents’ evening isn’t really enough to get the same benefits.

As a result, schools need to put a framework in place to foster this kind of healthy communication. For example, a school communication strategy can ensure a school provides a convenient method of communication between parents and teachers. It can also ensure there are designated systems in place to encourage communication, that make it easy for parents to have their voices heard while simultaneously protecting teachers’ time and energy.

Common issues with parent school communication strategies

The most significant finding of our recent school communications survey was that, despite 94% of schools rating their communications as ‘good’ or better, parents report feeling increasingly disengaged. So where are schools going wrong?

For starters, it’s not that parents don’t want to be engaged. In fact, 86% of parents said they would like a high level of communication with their child’s school. However, 40% said they don’t feel a high level of engagement.

So, when we looked into why this is, it became clear that the frequency and type of communication are significant factors. For example, of the parents that feel engaged with their child’s school, 85% believe the frequency of communication they receive is about right. But for those parents who aren’t feeling engaged, only 34% say the same.

As a result, there’s a clear correlation between frequency of communication and feelings of engagement. In particular, parents who are experiencing a high level of engagement typically receive five communications per a week. In comparison, parents that don’t feel engaged but would like to be typically receive just one.  

However, frequency of messaging isn’t the whole story here. For example, of the parents that do feel engaged, 79% say the communication is always or mostly relevant. In contrast, of those parents who feel disengaged, only 18% say the communication they receive is either always or mostly relevant. The other 82% of parents are instead receiving irrelevant messages that they end up scanning and reading anyway to work out whether they’re relevant.

As you can imagine, this eats up time and may contribute to making them less inclined to engage with future messages. Overall, this highlights a clear correlation between relevant communication and engagement.

To find out more about the results of this survey, you can read the full report here.

 

Key factors for improving your school’s parental engagement strategy

Based on the results of the survey above, we created the following checklist to help you shape your communications strategy:

  • Review and potentially cut down the number of channels you use.
  • Decide which communications channels you are going to use for what purpose. 
  • Be clear with your parents about where specific information will be published. 
  • If possible, choose in-app messaging as your main communication channel. 
  • Aim to send around 5, relevant messages a week to parents. 
  • Limit social media use to school promotions and emergency messaging.  
  • Build parent groups and accurately target your messages. 
  • Plan message sends to give parents sufficient time to respond.  
  • If using an app to send messages, check your engagement with system reports.
  • Use systems that will automatically translate to help with EAL families. 
  • Digitise your forms and avoid sending paper letters.  

 

School parent communication: How to know what parents want

A communication strategy that’s designed to serve both parents and teachers should take the opinions of what’s needed from both parties into account. The best way to find out what parents want from the systems in place is to ask them. For example, through an anonymous survey.

This can also enable you to get the opinions of a wide variety of different parents. For instance, an estimated 18% of pupils in UK schools have English as an Additional Language (EAL). Your school is also likely to have disabled parents and parents with other additional needs. The best way to find out what really matters to them is to give them the opportunity to tell you.

 

School parent communication: How can ReachMoreParents help?

One of the key findings of our research was that schools should be sending the majority of their messages through one channel, such as a school-branded app that houses all the information parents need to engage with their child’s education.

Not only will this hugely simplify your communications, but it will make life much simpler for parents by allowing them to read and respond to messages and engage with their child’s education in all sorts of other ways, all in one place.

For example, we’ve developed a whole range of products that integrate seamlessly with the ReachMoreParents platform. These include our Meal Manager, Online Payments, Attendance Tracking, Homework App, Parents’ Evening System, and School Timetable Software.

 

Let’s talk parent school communication strategies

To find out more about how to develop an effective communications strategy for your school, click here to book a discovery call at a time that suits you or drop us a line via our enquiry form.

Start reaching more parents today