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.
- 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