Speaking as a parent, the Vineyard School PTA currently seems to communicate both too much and not enough. Parents feel they get too many messages, yet also feel they miss out on important ones.
Our mission: Deliver to parents messages relevant to them on the right channel at the right time
To accomplish this we will clarify, simplify and unify communications:
- Clarify: the content parents want and which channels they prefer to receive messages
- Simplify: the content and number of messages
- Unify: communications across all of our channels
We welcome parent feedback and assistance in this process.
Our first step is to rationalise communications, below is are first draft communications policy followed by an evolving document about the PTA and school current communication channels and content. Please help your school and parental supporters improve communications with your concrete suggestions.
Draft Communications Policy
The role of the PTA is connect teachers to parents and carers, convene the community and raise funds to improve the experience for our children. All communications should therefore respect this role.
Class email lists and WhatsApp groups: These should be focussed primarily on communication about class and school related issues. These channels are not for social arrangements, commentary not related to school life and certainly not for commercial or charity promotions, no matter how worthy. We thank parents for respecting this use of these channels.
Social media pages (Facebook and Website): They are open to all parents and staff of The Vineyard School and are to be used for discussing fundraising, social events and meetings connected to the school. Please use the page in a positive manner.
The PTA regularly participates in the discussion and we do our best to monitor the conversation. The PTA reserves the right to remove any posting.
We have created a simple list of do’s and don’ts to help you use this resource correctly.
Please do the following:
• Use good judgment - Regardless of your privacy settings, assume that all of the information you have shared on your Facebook is public information.
• Be respectful - You cannot see a smile or understand nuances of speech on social media. Please keep the tone of discussion positive and respectful.
• Be responsible and ethical - Unless you are specifically authorised to speak on behalf of the school as a spokesperson, you should state that the views expressed in your postings, etc. are your own. Any issue or concerns you have with the school should be raised directly
• Correct any mistakes- Be sure to correct any mistake you make immediately, and make it clear what you’ve done to fix it.
Don’t share the following:
• Confidential information - If it seems confidential, it probably is. Online “conversations” are never private.
• Private and personal information - To ensure your safety, be careful about the type and amount of personal information you provide. Avoid talking about personal schedules or situations. NEVER give out or transmit personal information of students, parents, or colleagues. Always respect the privacy of the school community members.
• Images - It is not acceptable to post pictures of students without the expressed consent of their parents. You may use photos and video that are available on the school’s website with the headteachers permission.
• Other sites - Link to other sites may provide useful and interesting content. Don’t blindly repost a link without looking at the content first you never know what could be there!
Posts will be removed if they are:
• personal attacks (posts deemed libellous, profane, defamatory, disparaging, hateful, harassing, threatening, or obscene)
• break the law
• fraudulent, deceptive or misleading
One parent's examination of communication channels:
I looked at the amount of messages received from the School this first half of this month, and it is staggering: 13 emails which might be reduced to 5 or 6. I have summarised in the table below the messages received and my views. I built myself an email filter to send all email that do not contain 'newsletter' or 'important' straight to the bin.
School communications channels
- Weekly newsletters,
- Diary of events / school year dates
- Extra-Curricular Activity sheets
- Advertising events/workshops/meetings
- Requests for parent participation – e.g. the Mentor Scheme
- Policy changes
- Messages from the PTA or from Governors
Classes/Year Groups/Other groups
- Weekly newsletters for YR and Y1
- Educational trips / events / workshops
- Messages from class teachers
- Requests for parent participation – e.g. Y4 cooking, help on trips
- Administration for a particular year group e.g. Y6 Walking to school alone forms
- Chasing for forms, permissions or payments.
Most of communication is via Parentmail, the majority of which are emails. We limit the number of texts sent out as it costs us money.
Other communication is 1 to 1 on the phone or in person, personalised emails or text messages and as a last resort to chasing - paper copies of letters if we need a parent’s signature.
Letters will be also sent home for confidential issues or for issues that we feel a letter is more appropriate, e.g. poor attendance/punctuality or if a child has been heard swearing.
The website is updated on an ad hoc basis, but the information will have been communicated to parents beforehand, or at least sign posted to the website for more information.
Thoughts from one father, Philippe:
Below a table with my thoughts on categories, prioritisation and format, which at this stage only considers the school email/parentmail channel rather than social media or school rep emails. I have also introduced a criteria of "relevance" to the school.
I am no expert on audience maximisation: I presume any urgent communication should be out asap, and while I find it nice to get the weekly newsletters on a Friday afternoon where they can be read more leisurely at the weekend, I am not particularly fussed if they came out on a different day.