Headteacher’s Blog 16/3/17

Posted on by Mrs Finley

It does always seem to take a long time to get round to writing my blog! Must try harder!

After sharing the outcomes from our recent parent consultation regarding communications with Parent Forum last week, I said I would communicate the decisions from the consultation with all parents through my blog and also on the Tranmere Times.

We’d decided to issue a one-off paper copy of this questionnaire as we’d had very few responses using the online survey system set up to investigate the small percentage of parents who’d said they felt unhappy with school communications after the Autumn term parent consultation i-pad survey. We wanted to drill down & find out exactly what it was about communication that this small percentage of parents felt wasn’t working well; class communications, whole school communications or something else.

116 families responded to the survey which was much appreciated. In most sections, the very large majority of parents either agreed or strongly agreed with the questions posed, with approximately 2% of parents disagreeing with the questions overall.

10% of families that responded said they would prefer  paper communication through book bags rather than via email or website. This has been discussed with both Parent Forum and Governors and it was agreed that this would be a regressive step as paper & reprographics costs for newsletters, etc, to be copied, would be better spent on other resources. We have agreed that we will now make this very clear on our Home School Agreement – that part of the conditions of being part of our school community will be an understanding that the majority of the school communication will be via email or the school website.

Parents felt the Tranmere Times, Parent Consultation evenings, Pupil Mentoring folders and End of Year reports were all valuable methods of communication. Most parents also felt that there was lots of valuable information on the website – some parents felt that the webisite was difficult to navigate but an equal number of parents appreciated the work that Mr Beech had carried out recently to make the website easier to navigate. Facebook and Twitter were also considered to be valuable.

Some parents commented that the Autumn term Parent Consultations were too short and as a result of this feedback we will be making a change – both Parent Consultations will now be 10 minutes long and pupil workbooks will now be available for parents to view at both consultations.

Parents also said that they would like teacher email addresses to be able to ask teachers direct questions. Having discussed this with staff, I said I would reinforce that if parents would like to contact teachers they have a number of options: teachers are always available to talk to at the end of the school day;  parents who can’t get into school can also ring in to school and ask for teachers to call them back at breaktime,lunchtime or after school and teachers will aim to call them back on the same day; parents are also able to email school with any queries for teachers on the school email address of secretary@tranmerepark.leeds.sch.uk and Mrs Sanderson will forward the e-mail. Teachers will aim to respond within one working day. Parents should be aware that emails received in the evening will not receive a response until the next working day. Teachers are always happy to respond to parental queries.

Some parents also commented that they would prefer it if the Tranmere Times wasn’t emailed as a link as it can make it difficult to open on smart phones.  The office have investigated this and the programme we use will not allow the document to be sent in any other way (sorry).

The least appreciated methods of communication were Home/School diaries, Parent Forum and Curriculum Bulletins. The Leadership Team are looking into how we can make Home/School diaries or planners a more effective tool to allow effective class communication with home. I’m also investigating the possibility of having a ‘Parent Handbook’ published for the next school year which would share essential information with all parents. Parent Forum is a useful tool for school as it allows us to ‘test’ ideas with a representative sample of parents before we launch these ideas whole school. Curriculum Bulletins are an area which we had identified as needing a ‘refresher’ and so Miss Marsden (who is responsible in school for the management of the curriculum) will be contacting all local ALP schools and all our Noctua partners to ask for examples of their curriculum communication with the aim of relaunching our curriculum information in the new school year.

The very large majority of parents felt that they were well informed regarding school development priorities and school performance through the Tranmere Times, school website and other communications.

Also,  the large majority of parents felt that they were well informed as to what their child was learning but there were a number of comments regarding curriculum bulletins with parents saying, ‘curriculum bulletins are too brief’, ‘I read the bulletin but would like more information’, and ‘I know the topic but would like more detail’. This will hopefully be addressed by revamping our curriculum bulletins – thank you for this helpful feedback.

Some parents said, ‘You have to look for the information on the website’ and so I have agreed with staff teams that curriculum bulletins will be emailed out with the Tranmere Times in the first week of each half term to make this information easier for parents to access.

With regards to ‘Regular Feedback’ and ‘Knowing Next Steps in Learning’, the majority of parents were happy with school provision. Some parents felt that feedback on pupil learning should be more frequent than half termly which is currently the frequency of our feedback – ‘a weekly note on progress is needed’, ‘I don’t consider half termly feedback to be regular enough’.

Parents receive Pupil Mentoring folders which report on both progress and next steps for learning in the first half term of each term and either a Parent Consultation or End of Year report in the the second half term of each term. It is statutory to provide feedback termly so our current provision doubles what is expected. I also contacted all other local schools and all our Noctua partner schools to ascertain what other primary schools were providing to their parents – all other local & Noctua schools provide feedback termly with only Tranmere Park and Hawksworth providing feedback half termly. I therefore feel that our feedback on progress is sufficient and would reinforce that parents are always able to contact teachers for more frequent feedback if they have concerns.

The other main strand of your feedback concerned text messaging – parents felt that text reminders were very useful in ensuring they were aware of school events. Text messaging is a cost to school and we buy our texts in ‘bundles’. it would be very expensive for school to send text messages out to remind parents of every school event and these are always listed in the Tranmere Times. We use our texts to inform parents of cancelled sports fixtures, to send reminders about payments for residentials etc and for emergencies. We don’t wish to incur additional expenses regarding texting but do commit to send a text about non-uniform days which were the most mentioned event in terms of parents feeling ‘not informed’!

Thanks so much for your feedback in this consultation – I feel that you raised some pertinent points and the changes that we have made will ensure improved communication going forward.

We also consulted on Extra Curricular provision and I am in the process of analysing your responses which I will discuss with Parent Forum next month and feedback to you via my blog shortly afterwards.