When Southfield School for Girls created their learning platform to share information, they wanted to create a platform that would engage the parents and ensure that the learning platform would be a good source of information that parents wanted to know. In order to ensure the content met the requirements of the parents, the IT department of Southfield School decided to approach and consult the parents for feedback and idea’s, as Tracy O’Malley, Network Manager at Southfield school explains.
Like many schools, we were keen to use the platform to share information with our parents and so we decided the best way to approach this was to consult with our parents first. We are lucky enough to have a quite a few staff and governors that are parents too and so we started with our colleagues first, as we thought that it would be a good way to pilot ideas.
We also worked with Learning Possibilities, our learning platform provider on this pilot, as we wanted to try out MIS integration at the same time to provide online reporting to parents.
The feedback from the pilot made us realise that parental engagement is about much more than online reporting. Although parents definitely do want to see information about attendance, punctuality, homework and achievement - they are also keen to find out information about school trips, house points and extra-curricular activities.
With the learning platform, it’s possible for us to have all of these things in one place. So, we have a separate site where parents have access to this information and also individual sites for things like the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award and our school canteen – as parents like to know what food is available!
We also have a site relating to our eco project; it’s a good opportunity to ask parents to save their plastic bottles for us to build an eco greenhouse!
Most parents like to know generally about subject areas – and so one thing we are trying out is ‘Faculty of the Month’ where one faculty per month showcases the work that it does. This gives parents the opportunity to view examples of students’ work.
We encourage feedback from parents and so, as some parents don’t have the chance to regularly call into school, we set up a parental discussion. We also provide links to external websites that we think will be of interest to them.
Soon, we intend to start using the e-portfolio for students to share their best work with parents, which we hope will improve the dialogue between children and parents even more!
I feel parental guidance in the creation of the learning platform not only gives a sense of involvement and understanding on all aspects of their child’s learning but enables them to take an active interest at a distance. Something I’m sure my parents would have liked to have the opportunity of when I was at school!