We caught up with Dean Thomas-Lowde, Assistant Headteacher at Reddish Vale High School in Stockport, to hear about how they’re using Parent Hub to drive their parental engagement goals.
Q: Can you tell us a little bit about the parental engagement journey Reddish Vale have been on in recent years?
A: A few years ago, the school came under heavy scrutiny from Ofsted and was placed in Special Measures. This meant that, as a school, we focused all of or efforts on what improving teaching and learning, and begun a mission to improve student outcomes. As a result, there has been significant positive change at the school. However, after concentrating for a long time on what we were doing in school, we forgot that there was a community outside the gates, and they needed to know what we were doing.
We quickly realised that we needed to open the doors and celebrate the work we were doing in classrooms with the parents, and take them on our journey too! This year, we decided that parental engagement had to be a priority for us, not just to celebrate what’s happening in the school, but we also realised that engaging parents and the wider community is part of the long term success of the school and our students.
Q: RVHS has implemented Parent Hub, as well as active social media accounts, to engage with parents. Why did you choose these more modern approaches to communicate with parents?
A: I think its really important to recognise that we’re catering for a generation of parents who are social-media active, tech savvy, app-driven and are living very busy lives. Letters don’t always get home, message are lost along the way and working hours are harder to ‘’predict. Traditional parents’ evenings can be a great way to touch base with parents, but we know that it’s not always possible for some parents to attend due to work, family and other commitments, not to mention the fact that they only take place once or twice a year. To us, Parent Hub presented a simple, convenient method to communicate with all parents regularly about their children. I think one of the reasons these approaches have worked so well is because they fit into parents’ and teachers’ lives so much more easily than letters and phone calls!
Q: What feedback have you had from teachers and parents using Parent Hub?
A: The comments from staff and parents have been brilliant – teachers are loving using Parent Hub to contact parents – it’s so quick to send messages that it’s allowed staff to be in much more regular contact. Parents have said the same – for them, the convenience factor is a winner!
Q: What do you think is the best feature of Parent Hub?
A: I think the ability to reach a large number of parents instantly is brilliant, but the power comes when the classroom teachers are able to do the same. The staff at Reddish Vale have really taken to Parent Hub, and the ability to contact parents quickly has allowed much more interaction between teachers at home.
Our teachers are encouraged to use Parent Hub to share student successes with parents, and I think relationships between school and home have become much stronger as a result. We believe that Parent Hub can be used to change the purpose of communication with parents, shifting the focus of regular communication towards learning and praise, helping us extend learning beyond the classroom.
Q: What impact has Parent Hub had at RVHS?
A: Parental engagement is at an all time high at Reddish Vale this year, due in large part to the successful implementation of Parent Hub at the school.
A few of the areas we really wanted to improve were the participation of our parents at parents’ evenings and parent workshops, as well as the amount of communication between teachers and families in between the usual reports and parents’ evenings.
Now, parents are better informed about what’s going on in school, and get information they need in a timely manner, meaning that we’ve seen big differences have been in the attendance of our parents’ evenings and at our parent workshops. Attendance at parents’ evenings has increased by 10% across all year groups compared to last year – I believe this is due to the fact that we’ve been able to remind parents about upcoming events a lot more easily through Parent Hub. Our workshops have seen a massive increase in numbers too; last year we were struggling to reach double figures and now we’re seeing 40-50 attending workshops on how they can support their child at home with revision!