When schools communicate effectively with parents, everyone benefits. The school gains the trust of parents, parents achieve peace of mind, and children reap the rewards of everyone pulling in the same direction.
As the leader of each child’s education, the school should be the driving force behind this relationship. Through carefully planned communication with parents, powerful collaborations are formed. But how do schools ensure their communication with parents is effective?
The team here at Eduprise have over 20 years' experience of doing just that, driving thought-provoking and engaging content to build stronger links between our schools and their parent communities. Now, we’ve put together a practical and helpful list of the dos and don’ts for school communications with parents.
Do: Emphasise the Important Role Parents Have in Their Child’s Education
Parents want to feel valued and they want what’s best for their child. By using home-school communications to emphasise how important parents are to their child’s education, you can quickly secure their backing.
School communications can be used to point out how parents can get involved and use statistics to show how crucial their contribution is. For example, a 2012 study found that “parental involvement is a more significant factor in a child's academic performance than the qualities of the school itself.”
Don’t: Take an Authoritative Approach — Be Warm and Human
While school communications should be written in a formal style, there is a balance to be struck. A crucial aim of school-parent communication is working together and forming a strong relationship. An impersonal approach to these communications can prove to be divisive and will only alienate parents.
By being inclusive and coming across as genuine and welcoming, you will gain the respect of parents — both on a personal level and as a school.
Do: Communicate with Parents Early and Often
Your school should always take the first opportunity to engage with parents of new pupils and introduce them to the school. Gaining their immediate support will help to facilitate a long-lasting partnership.
It is also important to communicate with parents at the start of every new school year. This sets the tone for the coming months, during which you should regularly send out communications. A consistent approach ensures parents remain up to date with school events and their child’s education.
A great example of where this is especially important, is when changing headteacher. We've written about how to get your communications right while introducing a new principal.
Don’t: Ignore Responses from Parents
It may sound obvious, but too many schools ignore feedback and responses from parents. Whether they are useful or irrelevant, the opinions should always be taken into account.
As well as doing your due diligence with this feedback, you should also express your gratitude to those providing it. Parents must feel that their input is valued; otherwise, they simply won’t give any! Even if you consider their response to be unhelpful, you should still get in touch, thank them for their feedback, and reassure them that you value their opinion.
Do: Make Yourself Available for Additional Contact and Meetings
Parents are not always comfortable offering feedback, especially through indirect communication. Many would appreciate the opportunity to speak face to face, and that’s not something you should be afraid of. In fact, it’s something you should invite.
Strong relationships are built on trust, honesty, and collaboration. If both parties are willing to talk, settle differences, and work together, great results can be achieved. Parents will respond well to being given an opportunity to have a discussion. Even if they do not take you up on the offer, it will still engender positive sentiment toward your school.
Don’t: Limit Communications to Negative Situations — Accentuate the Positive
Waiting for bad news before getting in contact with parents is not a successful approach to school communications. It immediately makes parents fear receiving communications and also makes your school appear negative.
Now, that doesn’t mean negative communications should be avoided. But, even in the most negative school-parent communications, a positive tone should be evident throughout. Parents want to receive bad news as much as you want to deliver it — not at all. By shrouding it in a more upbeat, caring tone, the impact can be minimised.
Do: Thoroughly Proofread the Communication
Errors in spelling and grammar in official communications are a bad look for any organisation. Yet, It is an even worse look for schools. Your school represents the teachers and staff that educate children. Using poor grammar can be seen as incompetence, and spelling errors reflect a lack of attention to detail.
The solution is proofreading all school communications. From a post on social media to a letter sent home, any school communication with parents should be thoroughly proofed before being sent.
Don’t: Use Complex Language
Accessibility is a key consideration for schools. Primarily, this involves pupils and in-school parameters. But it is also a matter to consider when communicating with parents.
Many schools across the UK have pupils who come from families of different nationalities and backgrounds. Therefore, schools cannot assume that English is the first language of all parents. By minimising the use of unusual words and complex language, you can make your communication with parents more accessible for all.
Do: Create a School Communication Policy
Defining the parameters of your school communication with parents helps to maintain high standards. To do this, you should write and implement a school communication policy. The policy will cover more than just communication with parents; it should also govern style, tone, grammar, and preferred channels.
Starting this policy from scratch is difficult and time consuming. Instead, you can rely on Eduprise to build you a communications policy that will enhance your reputation and boost parental engagement.
Don’t: Restrict Communication to One or Two Channels
Communicating with parents is an inexact science. Each parent’s preference on how they receive information from schools is different. Some prefer email and some prefer newsletters; some prefer texts and some prefer social media. To cater for as many people as possible, your school should communicate with parents through various channels.
By using modern methods, like social media, as well as more traditional methods, like letters to parents, you can maximise your audience. To make best use of every channel, create a school-parent communication plan. Mapping out your school communications over the coming months will help you to maintain regular contact with parents. If you want to make a start on your planning, take a look at how we help our clients build a multi-platform strategy.
Perfecting the Art of Communicating with Parents
Good school communication with parents is crucial. The successful education of children can depend on the relationship between their school and their parents. If you feel your school has not mastered communication with parents, a change of plan is required.
At Eduprise, we work with schools throughout the country, enabling them to build strong relationships with parents through the power of communication. Our team would love to help your school do the same, so get in touch with us today.