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Poor School Communications Have Left Parents Frustrated With The Lack Of Contact

New study from Sangoma outlines 1 in 5 parents are confused and frustrated with lack of updates from their child’s school

Poor communications between schools and parents have left 1 in 5 parents frustrated with the lack of contact and updates on their child’s progress and education, research from Sangoma has identified.

In its latest research Sangoma, a unified communications specialist, found that a fifth (20%) of parents felt out of the loop about their children’s school events due to a lack of contact with the school.

Additionally, when attempting to contact their schools, more than half (56%) of parents agreed they experienced long wait times to have their calls answered, with a further 40% of parents saying their calls went unanswered.

And despite many schools having answering machines for parents to leave messages if calls went unanswered, 46% of parents stated that they do not have calls returned when they have left a message, or were often unable to speak to the person they left a message for (47%).

Parents of children attending primary school, secondary school, and colleges were interviewed for the research survey. The research report highlighted the drastic need for schools to place an increased emphasis on improving their communication with parents to ensure parents feel confident they are completely up to date with their child’s progress and education.

Simon Horton, VP of International Sales at Sangoma, says: “It is clear that schools are not keeping parents up to date with the latest updates concerning their child as a result of poor communications. Schools must begin to look at new technologies to help solve this issue.

“It is vital that parents are constantly in contact with their child’s school and receive updates on their activities and wellbeing, and are aware of the latest updates and events that may impact their child. This disconnection between schools and parents is leaving many parents feeling, understandably, frustrated and confused. And this raises concerns about how effective schools’ communications are when emergencies arise.

“With effective call management, call diversion, and messaging systems, schools can ensure parents are confident that when their contact their child’s school their call will be answered or returned.”

Online Parent-Teacher Conferences should be encouraged

Once or twice a year, parents pay a visit to the school to meet with teachers and discuss about their children. Whether it’s about the academic progress their kids have made, or how they are doing in general within the school environment, the annual parent-teacher conference is a vital component within the education systems from all over the world.

So, what happened when the COVID-19 was declared a global pandemic? Well, naturally when the schools closed down, parent-teacher conferences were also cancelled indefinitely. But now that the schools are largely back to normal, it is time again for teachers and parents to come together and work towards creating an even better learning experience for the children. Many schools have shifted towards hybrid education, combining and alternating between in-person and remote learning. Consequently, there is also a growing trend of school administrators hosting both virtual and physical meetings for parent-teacher conferences.

According to Rene Buhay, SVP of Sales and Marketing at AVer Europe, “By utilising the latest education technology such as video conferencing, online parent-teacher conferences can be a powerful and effective way in building meaningful relationships between the families and educators. Contrary to what some may believe, having parent-teacher conferences online are not inferior to in-person meetings. In fact, these virtual conferences can bring many advantageous factors in areas where face-to-face meetings may be limited.”

 Here are some key reasons why online parent-teacher conferences should be encouraged.

Flexible and Accessible

In a time of uncertainty where the world is trying to establish new “norms”, flexibility is crucial in ensuring a level playing field for all children. The traditional parent-teacher conference often did not have a concrete schedule that the parents could follow. Instead, there would be some general timetable for when each teacher is available to talk, but often parents would end up waiting in line for prolonged periods before they got their turn. It’s also not surprising that sometimes parents can’t make it to the conference due to work shift hours, prior commitment, or long-distance commute. With the option of having the parent-teacher conferences online, it eliminates these problems and increases the chance of both parents being able to attend. An internet connection, a video conferencing camera, and open platform such as Zoom, TEAMS or SKYPE,  is all a parent needs to join a virtual conference. Parents can now communicate with teachers from the comfort of their home, or virtually anywhere through the tap of a few buttons.

Efficient and Easy

While parents can enjoy the flexibility and accessibility of attending virtually, teachers also benefit from these online conferences. No longer do teachers have to struggle with presenting students’ work to parents in a noisy gym filled with overlapping conversations, nor will they be restricted to stay at a designated table due to limited space. By implementing educational technology in online conferences, teachers can stream and show all the work a student has done through a visualiser that’s equipped with a rotatable camera head, giving them the option to show their face and the student’s work interchangeably. Alternatively, if the teacher also likes to move around the room and gesture to points written on a blackboard, a simple tracking camera with plug-and-play USB connectivity would allow them to do so in seconds. With the utilisation of these two, we can say goodbye to distracting noises and poor visibility in a room full of waiting parents.

Build an Engaged Community

Choosing to participate in online parent-teacher conferences is essentially taking a more digital approach. With technology weaving its way more into the field of education, the level of convenience and visibility it brings can encourage parents to attend online conferences more often and in turn allow both parties the opportunity to get consistent insights and communication from each other. In doing so, this will create a sense of community that is connected based on collaboration for the sake of the children’s growth and development.

About AVer Europe

AVer Europe provides intelligent technological solutions which harness the power of visual communications for business and education. With over 20 years of research, development and manufacturing excellence AVer holds numerous international design, innovation, application, and service awards for exceptional product usability, reliability and customer satisfaction.

http://www.avereurope.com

The National Association of Therapeutic Parents Launches Website and Resources for Schools.

The National Association of Therapeutic Parents (NAOPT) has now launched a website packed with resources for all types of schools. By supporting schools and its teaching staff, the NAOPT hopes to raise awareness of development trauma.

 

 

Children are among those most at risk when involved in a traumatic event. More common than most realise, 25% of victims of child trauma can develop into mental health disorders, such as depression, anxiety and PTSD.

 

Distinguishing how to best help these children is the hardest element among teachers and parents. Especially keeping communication between the two, which often causes different perspectives on a child’s behaviour from a home setting compared to a school setting.

 

 

 

The pressure on teachers to achieve academic success within students is something the NAOTP understands, and therefore is knowledgeable about the stretch and pressure on time to keep up with both the pupils’ education and mental health. They also understand the stress parents must feel for the lack of this support, and how their child’s behaviour could be easily misinterpreted.

 

That was when the idea of launching the school website became reality. Designed to guide schools into an effective support system, members can access various resources on children’s mental health. These are useful for teachers who can’t seem to understand students’ behaviour, for schools who believe they’re missing a vital piece in understanding a child’s mind, or even those who wonder why pupils don’t perform as they could.

 

Rosie Jeffries is excited to offer schools this vital service,

 

“Members can access our resources to grow important knowledge of trauma within schools, and speak with like-minded professionals with our members only forum.

Not only this, it has been made possible to book counseling sessions with teachers and expert therapeutic parents to offload and gather tried and tested strategies.

 

 

The new website is designed for Nursery Schools, Primary Schools, Secondary Schools, Colleges, Virtual Schools, Forest Schools and SEN Schools.

 

By creating a bridge of communication between parents and teachers, behaviour can be understood more clearly, and a plan on how to support these children can be put in place.

 

To learn more and become a member, visit https://www.schools.naotp.com/

Parent-teacher relationships to be reset, for the benefit of pupils’ social skills, screen time, and mental health

  • Schools are looking to reset relationships with parents, post-lockdowns and home-schooling, with the partnership needing rebalancing for the benefit of pupils
  • New research finds that school staff worry about pupils’ ability to interact face-to-face (67 per cent), and their screen time (76 per cent), as they return to the classroom
  • Working in partnership with parents to support pupils overcome these new challenges is essential, yet almost two in five (38 per cent) of staff had concerns about parents’ willingness to do so

 

Schools and parents need to work together to rebalance their relationship as pupils adjust back to life in the classroom, new research1 from the Independent Association of Prep Schools (IAPS) and Tooled Up Education reveals.

 

Lockdown and home-schooling gave many parents the opportunity to be more hands on than ever before with their children’s education, however IAPS and Tooled Up Education found that a quarter (25 per cent) of school staff say that working with parents on home-schooling has been stressful.

 

Post-lockdowns and home-schooling, more than three quarters (76 per cent) of school staff worry about pupils’ screen time, and more than two thirds (67 per cent) agree that the lack of in-person interactions pupils have had with peers has been detrimental to their social skills and, amongst younger children, their emotional development.

 

Whether parents or teachers are responsible for certain aspects of a child’s development, such as financial education, has long been a topic of debate. Questions are now being raised about who should take ownership for the behaviours children have learnt – or not learnt – over the past 18 months, as a result of being stuck at home and indoors.

 

School staff confident discussing issues with colleagues but not necessarily parents

 

Overall, more than two thirds (70 per cent) of school staff worry about the mental health of pupils as they return to the classroom. While staff are confident discussing these issues with their colleagues and heads, almost half (49 per cent) lack confidence discussing them with parents.

 

Around two thirds (64 per cent) of school staff say that they would like additional training to support pupils with mental health and wellbeing concerns. Almost two in five (38 per cent), however, had concerns about the willingness of parents to work with them to overcome these new challenges.

 

Christopher King, CEO, IAPS commented: “Lockdown took its toll on everyone, but for younger children, it was a crucial stage in life for the development of their social skills and learning about their emotions. Schools and parents must rebalance their relationship, allowing teachers to effectively take back control of teaching, and parents and teachers to work together to address new challenges.

 

“Parents need to support schools with the development of skills and management of behaviours that cross the school and home boundary. We must break down the barriers and concerns expressed by teachers and school staff, so that they can talk openly with parents to address and help manage these new issues together. At the same time, schools need to step up and support their teachers and staff, whether that be with additional training or dedicated teams to step in when worries or concerns are raised.”

 

Dr Kathy Weston, CEO, Tooled Up Education commented: “Never before has the quality of the home-school partnership mattered more, and staff need to feel as confident as possible when engaging with, and supporting, parents, and carers. The experience of the pandemic is an opportunity for all schools to recalibrate the home-school partnership. It is a chance to redefine the respective roles of parents and teachers and ensure they are aligned in helping to protect each child’s mental health and emotional resilience. 

 

“Our wider research shows that when it comes to mental health, early intervention is key. Staff and parents need to be equipped to recognise early ‘red flags’ and address them using the most up-to date and evidence-based approaches. This is particularly important with younger children where support early on can reduce the risk of more complex mental health needs as a teenager.”

 

Parent Zone’s sister organisation, Youth Zone, launches VoiceBox: a unique content platform by young people, for young people

Youth Zone aka YZ – Parent Zone’s ‘sister organisation’ – has launched VoiceBox, an international content platform led by young people for young people.

Created by YZ’s ambitious startup team – all of whom are in their twenties – VoiceBox is a space for 14 to 25-year-olds around the world to talk about anything they want.

Max and Natalie, YZ’s USA-based International Leads, explain further: “We can see the internet changing and we want to provide the roadmap. Straightforward user-generated content has led to fake news, hate speech and content bubbles.” says Max. “We want to offer a better model. A space for young voices to be heard, with the responsible approach of more traditional media” finishes Natalie.

Whether they’re writers, vloggers, podcasters, artists or memesters, VoiceBox encourages them to share their ideas and experiences on the site and shout about them across social media.

The idea for the project goes back to 2019 – but with a fast-changing political, social and digital landscape, it couldn’t be more timely in winter 2020. VoiceBox is just one of many YZ projects designed to elevate young people’s voices in conversations that – the team argues – often happen without them.

“We see lots of well-intentioned organisations developing products and services for young people.” explains Lottie, YZ’s Engagement Lead. “But the extent to which young people are meaningfully involved or listened to really varies.”

“We want to change that.” continues Cal, YZ’s Content Lead. “Young people should be at the heart of these conversations, shouting about their ideas and experiences – and challenging everyone to do better.”

Through VoiceBox, YZ are already inviting young people to drive cutting-edge projects from the world of tech, popular culture and mental health – including Ollee, a ‘digital friend’ funded by BBC Children in Need and developed by Parent Zone. But they’re keen to grow – and reach out to young people around the world.

“Having grown up in a global digital world, the old-fashioned boundaries between one country and another, or the so-called online and offline worlds, feel less relevant to us.” notes Ed, YZ’s Business Development Lead. “VoiceBox truly is a platform for all young people – wherever they might be. We hope policy makers, organisations and – of course – lots of young people will join us and get involved.”

Visit VoiceBox at voicebox.site

Don’t let past experiences interfere with schooling

 

An area which has been a challenge for our school, and indeed many, is how do we effectively engage parents and carers in their child’s education?  Past experiences often form our opinions in life. For many adults, school wasn’t always a pleasant experience meaning that they are less likely to engage in their child’s education or with their school.  Added to this, the current climate of social distancing, parental and carer engagement and reassuring them of what is happening in class has never been more challenging.

At Heronswood our school ethos is to give children a genuine, emotional connection with their learning, as it is then that they will achieve the highest standards. Fundamental to this is useful and meaningful engagement with the parents and carers of our 410 pupils, helping them work together with our teachers to ensure that every child in every class reaches their full potential.  

Communications fit for purpose

Today, parent communication is more than comments and marks in a school report and a once a year report evening. A key area of focus at our school this year was improving parental engagement.  We wanted every child’s parent or carer to be aware of what was happening in the classroom; to understand what the pupils were learning, why it was necessary and to share in their achievements.  But, with a high percentage of parents with English as an additional language, communications have proved tricky as for some of our pupils, English is not a language spoken in their homes.  We recognised that sending home letters about the curriculum or rewards was not working as some adults couldn’t understand the messages being sent.  This created a further challenge as often; those parents were only receiving basic information from the school.  They had little understanding of what was happening in the classroom and what learning their child was taking part in.  A further challenge for us was that in the current pandemic, we felt giving out physical reward badges to the children was best avoided. Still, we also recognised how crucial they were in boosting children’s esteem after so much time out of the classroom. 

 

Support at home enhances success

EdTech has undoubtedly helped at Heronswood. We’ve gone from communicating to 70% of our families to 100% of parents and carers in just two weeks, and we received thousands of positive virtual ‘high-fives’ from parents and carers, showing that they are engaged in their child’s learning in the classroom. 

The impact of parental engagement can have such a positive influence on a child’s education, and Heronswood is on a mission to ensure that every child goes home each day to parents or carers who are aware of what they had been working on in class and their achievements. Parents need messages of reassurance to home if a child is finding something tricky, or perhaps they would like a reminder to do homework.

We knew the best way to close the engagement gap is to improve parental communications, and here are my top tips to help:

  • Break down barriers by using a familiar format such as mobile comms
  • Pick a format which is easily accessible for parents
  • Share positive news, not just the dreaded ‘phone call home.’
  • Put the onus on teachers to communicate with parents about daily events and rewards
  • Involve parents in the decision process of how you communicate, what do they think of it?
  • Ask parents for feedback regularly, know what’s working and what isn’t

More hours in the day

Teachers across the country know that school life is hectic with minimal hours in the day to pack everything in.  Throw in the pandemic and teachers are stretched to their limits.  With the EdTech platform, our teachers are benefitting from no more writing ‘please remember to read for 20 minutes’ in 30 home school diaries.  Now, Teachers can say, today we read Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Please ask your child about the characters. Or your child should read for 10 minutes today with an adult.  For our reception children, the teacher can send a voice message saying, “Today we’ve learnt the sound ‘fffff’ ask your child to show you some things around the home beginning with the sound ‘ffff'” and they can easily and quickly send through the reward badges to parents and carers. It’s a fantastic way to help parents support their child’s learning in the right way and saves so much time. 

Looking forward, I can’t see that we’ll ever go back to traditional communication methods.  EdTech is the way forward if we want to ensure effective communications with parents and carers, reduce the number of hours that teachers spend on admin, and in turn, ensure that every child achieved their full potential in learning.

Mrs Pierpoint is Head Teacher of Heronswood Primary School and pre-School, part of Rivers C of E Academy Trust in Worcestershire.  The school use http://www.marvellousme.com/ to improve parental engagement.