Effective home-school communication between your school and members of your community; students, parents and carers is essential. But communications can often be time-consuming on teacher workloads and stressful for your internal staff.
The first step to balancing the needs of your staff with the requirements of your parents/carers for frequent, useful and relevant communication is to put in place in a clear communications policy.
Sharing the finalised policy with your key stakeholders can help to manage expectation and ensuring that everyone is on the same page.
What is classed as 'good communication'?
Good communication is clear, professional, timely and appropriate. It should be useful and relevant to all parties, with a clear purpose as to the reason for the correspondence.
How to identify existing communication methods?
Before you create a new communication policy, it is a good idea to analyse your existing forms of home-school communication, to see whether they are working and if they need refining, updating or removing.
These discussions may be done on a whole-school staff basis or on a smaller scale, depending on your existing processes.
Going forwards, segmenting your stakeholders (parents, students, other staff, governors, etc) based on their needs and requirements, can help you to work out the appropriate solutions and responses for each group.
What key questions should I ask my team?
- How often do you receive communications from each of the identified stakeholder groups?
- What methods do you use to communicate with parents or other staff?
- Do you have different methods for internal and external communication?
- Are you responding to enquiries outside of your core working hours?
- Are communications having a negative effect on your teaching workload?
What information should we include in our school communications policy?
- An overview of the new policy
- The reasons why it has been introduced
- How it will benefit your stakeholders
- The key differences between the new and existing policies
2. Aims and responsibilities
- Details of how SLT will communicate with internal and external stakeholders, along with the procedures they should follow.
- Identification of when staff are expected to respond to parents and the procedures they should follow to do so - such as replying within school hours via the school email system.
- Details of how staff will communicate with parents on a regular basis - whether this is via a school planner, physical letters or email.
- Information on parental responsibilities in relation to communications - how they should respond and what they need to ensure they complete on a weekly/monthly basis.
Examples may include:
+ how to report absences
+ when school planners need to be signed
+ how to update contact information
+ how to follow up on queries
3. Methods of communication
The methods of communication may vary from school to school and may include (but are not limited to):
- School Planners
- Telephone Calls
- Face-to-Face Meetings
- Social Media
- Digital Newsletters
- Report Cards
- School Website
- Mobile App
- Parent Portal
- School Prospectus
For each method of communication used by your school, you should outline:
- The preference for using this method
- The frequency of the communication
- The purpose of this method (e.g if it's just for communicating homework)
- When and how teachers / staff will respond
- What to do if no response is received
4. Further details
At the end of the policy, it is advisable to conclude with who to contact if there any other queries and when it was last updated.
You may also wish to include details of your mobile phone policy (for parents contacting their child within school hours or vice versa) and details of your social media policy - especially if this is a key communication channel.
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