‘The more the relationship between families and the school is a real partnership, the more student achievement increases. When schools engage families in ways that are linked to improving learning, students make greater gains.’
(Henderson, A. T., Mapp, K. L., Johnson, V. R., & Davies, D. (2007). Beyond the bake sale. New York. p3.)
This week we ran two ‘Parent Forums’ which were, in my view, highly successful. We began each session by looking at the data from the 2017 Parent Opinion Survey and discussing, in a general way, the strengths and area for improvement that we observed. Parents then broke into small groups and visited ten ‘feedback stations’ spread around the library. At each of the stations, we asked for written feedback about a range of topics drawn from the survey. We asked parents to identify the ‘positives’ in our current practice, the ‘negatives’, and then suggestions for improvement. This activity yielded a huge amount of rich information, which was then displayed in the staffroom for teachers to read and discuss.
The topics considered were:
- Communication between teachers and parents
- Teacher feedback
- Student motivation and engagement
- Opportunities to participate in my child’s education
- Extra support for students
- School facilities
- Study skills and organisation
- Future directions
The evenings and the feedback highlighted for me the value in bringing parents into the conversation about their children’s learning, and the importance of prompt, accurate and meaningful communication. The Student and Parent Portal was seen to have great potential in realising these goals, but we have some work to do in improving the consistency of its use and the more frequent, accurate, updating of data.
Some suggestions and observations made on the night:
- ‘More group discussions on issues/incidents in real time…’
- ‘Communications officer – responsible for broader messages to parents/community (eg social meposts)’
- ‘Value individualised, unexpected positive feedback on my child…’
- Idea: ‘Year level specific information (newsletter etc) what the focus is for the term…’
- ‘We like the ‘PAC, Stadium, oval looking green…’
- ‘How about a ‘bike shed/scooter shed…’
- ‘Yr 12 Study Area, great support…’
- ‘Give students clear expectations e.g. how much to read/what to read/study/practice etc before next class…’
- ‘More student voice…’
‘Some teachers are very good at keeping parents updated e.g. emails and notes…’
- ‘Bring back the old college planner. It was a very underutilised study tool…’
- ‘It’s great to know that (extra support) is there when students need it; the challenge is em-powering individuals to take the first steps to seek help out when it is needed…’
- ‘More online lessons/resources for students missing classes (for legitimate reasons)…’
I want to thank all parents who attended. If you have feedback and suggestions about any of the areas we covered, please feel free to email me. I mean to run one of these feedback forums per term from now on.
Looks like the weather’s broken. Stay warm – but no ‘hoodies’ at school, please!