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Using Technology to Keep Parents Informed

Coventry (UK), November 2009 - The report, Schools and parents: A new partnership, part of Becta's 'Next Generation Learning' campaign is now available for download. It suggests that simple technologies such as online reporting can support a new, more effective partnership between parents and schools.

Misunderstandings, a lack of confidence, and unclear communication channels are putting children's education at risk, according to a new report into the parent-teacher relationship commissioned by Becta.

  • Over half (59%) of the parents surveyed admitted having too little contact with their child's school.
  • Sixty percent of school staff say parents feel their job stops at the school gates.
  • However, 43% of teachers admit parents might find them 'difficult to approach sometimes'.

The comprehensive study of 2,000 parents and 1,000 teachers across the country reveals that over half the parents queried are in contact with their child's teacher just once a term or less, and for various reasons are taking a back seat in their child's education.

The findings further reveal almost half (48%) the teachers surveyed believe that whilst parents are a great source of support, they don't always know the best ways to get in contact, with over a third (39%) of teaching staff saying they would welcome ways to show parents how they might communicate differently.

Four key issues in the parent-teacher dynamic have emerged from the findings:

  • 'Invisible' parents: Of the parents who admitted they rarely made contact with their child's teacher, nearly a quarter (22%) said they did not see the benefit for their child.
  • Confidence issues: 42% of the teachers said the reason so-called 'invisible' parents have so little contact with the school is that they lack the confidence to discuss their child with teachers.
  • Lack of information: More than one in ten (11%) of the parents who do initiate communication said they felt dismissed by teachers as an 'overly demanding' parent, and a further 11% commented they often feel they are imposing on the teacher's time.
  • Lack of effective communication channels: 89% of parents expressed their belief that technology could help them become better informed about their child's education so that they can then have more focused face-to-face discussions with teachers.

Bridging the gap: Technology matters

Becta works to ensure the effective and innovative use of technology throughout learning. The benefits of technology in schools are twofold: making lessons and learning more enjoyable and rewarding, whilst also keeping parents better informed and involved with their children's learning.

Using technology to improve communications should enable parents to:

  • keep track of their children's work, curriculum, and homework assignments
  • view a child's reports, attendance records, and grades anytime
  • keep in touch with the school via email and text messaging
  • have more focussed discussions with teachers equipped with the relevant information.

Becta's Next Generation Learning campaign is urging parents to talk to their child's school to find out whether and how technology is already being used, and how it can help improve regular communication between the school and them in future.