HGIOS 4 – How Good Is Our School?

Education Scotland’s “How Good Is Our School”, first started in 1996, is into its 4th edition and has helped transform Scottish schools’ approaches to self-evaluation and improvement. As schools will be well aware, this National Improvement Framework will see evidence gathered under six key drivers of improvement:

  • School leadership
  • Teacher professionalism
  • Parental engagement
  • Assessment of children’s progress
  • School improvement
  • Performance information

The Parents’ Evening Booking System is a key and proven partner to success in at least four of the six drivers:

Parental Engagement

Parental engagement is of course key to raising achievement. It is proven that parents who work together with the school can create an excellent home learning environment, helping to reinforce lessons learned in school.

As noted by Ken Muir, Chief Executive of the General Teaching Council for Scotland in Issue 63 of Teaching Scotland, the future of education depends on our collective responsibility and commitment. Ken Muir points out that importance of addressing the challenges faced in creating effective school, family and community partnerships to deliver the best education schools can.

The Parents’ Evening Booking System is, at it’s core, a communication tool.

By inviting parents to make their own bookings, schools eliminate many of the primary obstacles which prevent parents from engaging with both the school and their child’s teachers at the main communication event: parents’ evening.

Nearly all parents have positive aspirations for their children and several studies have shown that disadvantaged children themselves do not have fundamentally different aspirations from their more advantaged peers (see Cuthbert and Hatch, 2008). Parents may simply lack the knowledge, confidence or wherewithal to make their aspirations a reality. So if most parents do care, why do they not engage with the school? And how do schools change what they do so they can harness parents and families to improve outcomes for young people?

Parental apathy can be a major hurdle to engagement. By offering an innovative technology-based solution, schools reinvent their events and make them appealing to parents in a number of key ways.

Parents are given the opportunity to tell the teachers what they would like to talk about, or flag any issues or concerns, ahead of the meeting. This simple communication tool (which can be turned ‘off’ for those who want) allows parents a brand new channel of dialogue which has never been afforded to them historically.

By encouraging parents to book and communicate their thoughts, worries or discussion topics in this way, appointments are proven to better prepared for by all, meaning more effective meetings which encourage greater sign-up and attendance. Our method has even been proven to have a positive impact on appointments being kept to their time by parents, who now have ownership of their appointment schedule for the first time.

Schools are provided with the communication tools which allow them to send messages to parents electronically, saving money, time and paper, but can also use our reporting tools to send reminder e-mails to those who have yet to book or to those who have booked, with their appointments provided once again.

In Summary:

  • Parents make their own bookings
  • Parents can pick times which suit them
  • Parents can tell teachers about any discussion topics, issues or concerns ahead of time, leading to better prepared, more effective meetings
  • Parents are able to make bookings from their home, work or smart device, removing traditional appointment-making hurdles such as not being able to come at the times prescribed by the school or selected by their child
  • The school’s office or teaching staff can send messages to parents ahead of them making their bookings, such as “Please make me a priority” or “It would be useful to talk to you about recent Mathematics homework”
  • Schools save money and paper by sending electronic communications
  • Schools who still send letters by post will save hundreds of pounds
  • Schools who still send letters via post or via the students will instead be able to track whether the electronic communication has been sent, received and opened by parents
  • The school can send targeted follow-up messages to parents who have yet to book, or send reminder e-mails with appointments in the click of a button. Not only is time saved but information which often wasn’t available to hand is communicated quickly and efficiently to the benefit of all

Assessment of Children’s Progress

We recognise that a central ambition for schools is to give as many pupils as possible the knowledge and skills to flourish in the later phases of education and life.

As Education Scotland point out in their document ‘Observation, Planning and Assessment‘: “Working and communicating meaningfully and respectfully with parents, other key family members and relevant services is necessary if staff are to make valuable and accurate assessments of children as an integral part of the overall provision.”

The Parents’ Evening Booking System is a multifaceted solution to the challenge of improving observation, planning and assessment.

Our parents’ evening tool removes traditional engagement hurdles, bringing parents, other key family members or the relevant services to the school for the purposes of student assessment.

Those parents who have, historically, not regularly engaged are typically amongst those who a school need to engage with the most. The children of families who are less connected to the school, although the same is true for all students, will require observation, assessment and planning if they are to achieve their potential. By encouraging participation in parents’ evenings, we help schools bring parents to the table, excuse the pun, vastly increasing the potential for observation, planning and assessment.

This is key to encouraging parents and teachers, acting as partners, to facilitate the necessary observation, assessment, recording and planning for all students.

The Parents’ Evening Booking System’s built-in communication tools allow hitherto unavailable channels of dialogue. In advance of meetings, staff can send parents a message related to their booking, including progress discussions. This will enthuse parents and set the meeting onto a positive footing. Parents are better prepared for the meeting in this way. Furthermore, parents can send staff their discussion topics, perhaps related to the comments the teacher has sent to the parent, leading the better prepared and more effective meetings.

In Summary:

  • The Parents’ Evening Booking System school is proven to help encourage sign-up and engagement of those parents who typically would not have historically
  • Increase parental participation is key to the necessary implementation of observation, assessment and recording
  • Teachers can send parents comments, issues or information, including progress discussion topics for the event, ahead of the parent making their appointments. This can improve progress discussions at the meeting
  • Parents can send teachers their discussion topics in advance, again meaning meetings can be better prepared for progress discussions

School Improvement

The Parents’ Evening Booking System’s modus operandi is to help schools run better, more effective meetings. Our objective is not just an ambition to provide a comprehensive school improvement product but to facilitate events which make a difference for parents and students as well as the school.

Schools who use us to manage their parents’ evenings are embracing modern technology and putting the typically frustrating events of old behind them. Embracing technology will encourage greater sign-up, not just from those who in the past have not engaged, but will allow parents to make appointment schedules which are better structured to their needs and at times that suit them. Parents are given control of their own destiny, and that is powerful to them.

Schools who embrace this new technology also benefit from an innovative solution which will improve their standing amongst parents, being seen as pioneers and innovators in the field of education and school improvement. We’ll help inspire your teachers and students as one of the many indirect pay-offs as well.

Schools are improved immediately upon signing up by using our product to save money. And not simply in an intangible way, such as by saving staff time (which is of course true), which any finance officer will tell you can’t be seen on a balance sheet, but by offering modern communication tools, such as e-mail communication and follow-up tools, which are not only more efficient, allowing you to send messages immediately to parents which are track-able, so you can see who has received and opened their e-mails, but put the information in the palm of almost all parents in seconds. When appointments needs to be cancelled for any reason, the parent can be told instantly. When a parent loses their appointment sheet, it can be sent to them again instantly. All of these electronic communication tools save printing, postage, stationary and admin time.

We also free up classroom curriculum time, but taking the disruptive signing up of these events away from students and teachers and putting it into the control of parents. Your next inspection will be delighted to hear about how many extra hours of curriculum time have been saved by moving to our Parents’ Evening Booking System.

Finally, our product is eco-friendly and helps schools cut down on paper. If you’re part of Eco-Schools or have an ambition to be more green, we’ll help in dramatic ways. There’s no reason why you can’t do away with paper altogether, when it comes to parents’ evenings, should you want to, when you use us.

In Summary:

  • Embracing technology as an innovative solution to parents’ evenings
  • Inspiring teachers and parents
  • Improve communication channels between school and parents
  • Save school money on printing, posting and stationary
  • Save staff/admin time in the setting up and running of events
  • Freeing up classroom curriculum time by having appointments made by parents
  • Electronic reporting and analysis tools give an accurate depiction of sign-up, engagement and attendance. Follow-up tools allow schools to
  • Eco-friendly / potentially paper free solution

Performance Information

Our Parents’ Evening Booking System helps schools to improve their overall performance and the meetings which we help schools run, especially those that take advantage of our many benefits, have a direct effect on learners’ progress in becoming successful learners, confident individuals, responsible citizens and effective contributors.

We help schools achieve their goals in closing the attainment gap over time, as detailed above in the Parental Engagement, Assessment of Children’s Progress and School Improvement sections. Benefits of our product such as influencing better engaged discussion of the observation, planning and assessment of students, helping to improve their quality of learner’s achievement, have profound impacts.

Schools who adopt and embrace the technology will see marked improvement in their:

  • Parents’ evening attendance
  • Effectiveness of the parents’ evening meetings
  • Parental engagement improvements, not just in regards to parents’ evenings but with their child’s overall education, as well as other school events
  • Staff time spent organising and managing parents’ evenings
  • Classroom and curriculum time lost to parents’ evenings
  • Cost-cutting
  • Use of technology as an innovative and proven solution
  • Carbon footprint