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Are parents getting the message?

08 September 2020 Katie Sixsmith

Email is a key communication channel globally and the education sector is no exception. Most schools and trusts now use email as a key communication tool – both internally with staff and students and as one of the main methods of school-home contact with parents.

But the challenge is ensuring your audience is opening, reading and responding to them. So, are your parents getting the message?

We've moved on from the old communication methods of paper slips and printed letters which often got lost or would be discovered, crumpled and out of date, weeks later at the bottom of the sports bag. 

Now parents expect communications to be delivered quickly, easily and electronically so that they can access them at the touch of a button at any time, from anywhere.  

So why is school-home communication so important?

  • Regular updates
    Parents and carers can be kept up to date with important and upcoming news and events that concern their child(ren). 
  • Supports children’s learning at home
    Even before the pandemic, having a clear channel of communication between school and home was important for supporting children’s learning outside of school. During and post-pandemic, it’s essential.  
  • Improves the school-home relationship
    If there are regular and accessible communications, then it makes it easier for questions to be answered and any problems to be easily resolved. Irregular or non-existent communication maximises the potential of a breakdown in the relationship between parents and the school.  
  • Improves the school reputation
    A school or trust who is known for consistent, clear and open communications will appeal to prospective parents and carers as well as potential staff.  

What are the benefits of using an email system to communicate with your parents?  

  • Instant contact
    Send a message and a minute later, it will appear in their inbox, waiting to be read.  
  • Save time and money
    Investing in one robust email system which is integrated with your MIS provider means that messages can be sent to individuals, classes or even your whole school network, simply and effectively, at the touch of a button. 
  • Reliable
    By sending a message directly to the parent or carer, using your MIS data, you know that it’s going to the right person. There is no need to worry about messages being passed on or waiting for a letter to arrive in the post. 
  • Secure
    MIS integration means all your data is securely protected, up to date and only needs editing from one location. This gives you full control and transparency over the information shared with your email system, keeping you in control of your organisation’s data.
  • Two-way dialogue - receive replies from parents directly to the most relevant person. Remember, it’s important that you have a policy in place to consider the best way to handle responses. 
  • Accountability
    The system will keep a central record of which communications were sent to who and when. Having an audit trail of messages that parents have received, can assist you answering questions or referencing previous communications in the future. 

Are parents getting the message?  

Despite your best intentions, there is no guarantee that all of your parents will receive, read and respond to all of your email communications.

However, with a clear, consistent email communication strategy, you can encourage parents to engage with your message, increasing the likelihood of them repeating this action every time they hear from you. 

Our 5 top tips for email success:

  • Consistent styling
    Sending professionally branded emails that are consistent in look, feel and structure will increase their trust that it’s a legitimate, important communication as well as allow them to know which sections are most relevant to them. 
  • Friendly tone of voice
    We know that not every email you send to parents will be a positive one, but by maintaining a pleasant, friendly tone of voice it will feel more like a collaborative dialogue than a one-sided conversation. 
  • Regular not rapid fire
    Regular communications are important to increase interaction and engagement – but too much can put parents off. No one likes to feel ‘spammed’ or to receive multiple messages on the same day. So make sure to plan your regular communications (e.g. newsletters or menu updates) for the same time each week or month, and then slot your ad-hoc messages around these. 
  • Personalisation
    Your email system will have the option for placeholders – especially when pulling in your MIS data – so use them! An email addressed to ‘Mrs Jones’ or ‘Pam’ will engage more than ‘Dear Sir/Madam’. 
  • Informative subject line
    You only have a few seconds to grab their attention amongst the myriad of emails they’ll have in their inbox – so make sure your email subject is short, snappy and to the point.
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