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Reduce truancy rates by connecting with parents

January, 2018

Reduce truancy rates by connecting with parents

The issue of truancy for New Zealand schools reared its head again at the end of 2017, with attendance rates falling even further than previous years. The Ministry of Education reported the number of students regularly attending school fell from nearly 70 percent in Term 2, 2015 to 67 percent in the same period last year. Only 55 percent of Maori students were regularly showing up and 57 percent of Pacific students.

Increasing parent engagement and involvement at school and the wider school community is one way to help reduce truancy rates. Tai Tokerau/Northland Principal’s Association President, Pat Newman mentioned in this Radio NZ article that, “If you haven’t necessarily had a successful education when you were a pupil, then perhaps you don’t see it as important when you are a parent.”

This highlights that some parents may feel alienated, distrustful or disconnected with the school community. This should be of concern to schools, that parents who are involved in school life are more likely to be supportive of their child’s education and have better relationships with teachers.

Could your school put in more effort to include parents?

The key influencing predictor to parent support of their child’s learning is not parent or child behaviour or attitudes, but the school’s behaviour and attitude. When parents feel that the school is actively involving them, they generally respond by becoming more active in their child’s education.

Does your school have the right attitude to involving parents? Does it have an accommodating organisational structure? Are you using effective communication methodologies with your parents?

It is the school’s role to help parents feel welcome and to find a place in the school network where they feel valued and will make a positive impact.

However, even though some parents want to play a part in their child’s school life, they may not know how to contribute.

Check out this infographic for ideas on how parents can be involved in school life.

There are many different roles for parents to become involved that they may not be aware of. This is where strong communication between schools and families is essential.

Clear, effective communication between the school and parents will help to inform them of opportunities to contribute to the school and feel like the school really wants them to be a part of their community.

If cost and time consumption of regular communication to parents is a barrier, there are many technological alternatives to traditionally expensive letters, phone calls and paper notices.

Instant messaging apps, SMS integrated email and mass text messaging systems are popular, low cost communication options that schools across New Zealand are utilising to keep parents in the loop about school involvement opportunities.

Making parents feel more connected and involved with the school community can have a positive impact on their child’s education and relationship with the school, which is one way to help improve truancy rates in New Zealand.

To learn more about effective parent-school communication and strategies to involve parents at school, download the white paper: Upholding a Child’s Education – The Three-Legged Stool Effect.

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How parent engagement can help with attendance management

July, 2017

How parent engagement can help with attendance management

The recent Ministry of Education report on student attendance rates, also highlighted that Maori and Pasifika students had the lowest attendance rates, with only just over 50 per cent, of these students regularly attending school.

While this is alarming, unfortunately this is not new information. Research into the subject shows that there are a number of factors that play a part in this, but one thing that schools can do to improve student attendance rates is to increase parent engagement with the school and encourage a more culturally inclusive school community.

Is your school putting in enough effort to include parents?

The key influencing predictor to parent support of their child’s learning is not parent or child behaviour or attitudes, but the school’s behaviour and attitude. When parents feel that the school is actively trying to involve them, they generally respond by becoming more involved in their child’s education. You can read one of our previous blogs to see how you can encourage parents to connect.

Unlock the parent potential

As always, communication is the key here. Communities are about relationships. Relationships are about communication. Help your students’ parents feel included and find their identity within their child’s school life through effective, regular communication.

To learn more about effective parent-school communication and strategies to involve parents at school, download the white paper.

Importance of parent engagement for schools

How to empower parents to help reduce truancy in New Zealand

July, 2017

How to empower parents to help reduce truancy in New Zealand

Is Early Notification absent at your school? Increase parent awareness of truancy by keeping them informed with easy communication apps.

A recent Ministry of Education report showed that student attendance rates were falling across New Zealand. 76,500 students were away from school each day in 2016. That equates to 10.2 per cent of students, up from 9.9 per cent in 2015.

Truancy costs schools significant time and resources

For schools that don’t have an early notification system in place and have to follow up on absent students manually, this rise in unexplained absences will also require an increase in time and money spent locating these absent students. For example, a school with a roll of 1000 students with a 10.2 per cent truancy rate can cost the school $20,400 per year in time spent following up and making phone calls. You can see for yourself what this could equate to for your school by using this calculator.

As well as potential significant cost savings to your school by having an early notification attendance management system, there are many other benefits such as student safety and providing a quicker and more convenient method for parents to be aware and respond.

Benefits of Early Notification for parents and caregivers

  • Fast notification of absence (which could potentially be a child safety issue).
  • Parents and caregivers can respond quickly and cost effectively.
  • It’s less embarrassing for them to respond to a text than a phone call if they had forgotten to notify the school of their child’s absence or the reason for the child’s absence is personal.
  • Texting is more convenient for those who are unavailable to respond to personal calls during work or study hours.
  • Feedback from our customers, says that texts are the preferred method of school communication for most parents and caregivers.

Benefits of Early Notification for Schools

  • Less time spent by the Attendance Officer in contacting caregivers of absent students.
  • Less expensive than calling mobile phones.
  • Responses go directly into the Student Management System and are easily viewed by the Attendance Officer, making them efficient to process (service offered by some EN providers).
  • Responses are saved in the Student Notes (service offered by some Student Management Systems).

Click here, to find out more about how an early notification system can help your school.

Nine Benefits of Using Early Notification in New Zealand Schools

January, 2016

12 March 2013 - Kaiapoi High School.  Photo Simon Baker/Digiflicks

Early Notification (EN) is the use of text and/or email messages to notify parents that their child is inexplicably absent from school.

Here are nine ways EN makes life easier for the school community:

Benefits of Early Notification for parents and caregivers

  1. Fast notification of absences (which could potentially be a child safety issue).
  2. Parents and caregivers can respond quickly and cost effectively.
  3. It’s less embarrassing for them to respond to a text than a phone call if they had forgotten to notify the school of their child’s absence or the reason for the child’s absence is personal.
  4. Texting is more convenient for those who are unavailable to respond to personal calls during work or study hours.
  5. Feedback from our customers, says that texts are the preferred method of school communication for most parents and caregivers.

Benefits of Early Notification for Schools

  1. Less time spent by the Attendance Officer in contacting caregivers of absent students.
  2. Less expensive than calling mobile phones.
  3. Responses go directly back into the Student Management System and are easily viewable by the Attendance Officer, making them efficient to process (service offered by some EN providers).
  4. Responses are saved in the Student Notes (service offered by some Student Management Systems).

To learn about more reasons New Zealand schools are using Early Notification and other attendance management strategies, attend the webinar in February.

Attendance management systems webinar details

Date: 18 February 2016
Time: 11:00am – 11:20am
Presenter: Andrew Balfour, Managing Director of School-links
Topic: Attendance Management systems in New Zealand schools
Audience: School Leaders, Executive Officers, Board of Trustee members
Register: Click here

 

How can parents be involved in school?

August, 2015

Parent-involvement-infographic-#1-thumbnailThe role of the school shouldn’t be to prop up the student with extra support if the parents are disengaged from their child’s education. A better strategy is to encourage parents to participate in school life and give them opportunities to get involved.

Opportunities to initiate involvement in school life include formal parent advisory boards and groups, cultural activities and sports coaching, parent-teacher interviews and learning conferences.

Click on the poster (left) for over 30 ideas for getting parents engaged with school.

 

 

For more ideas and strategies to get parents involved with the school community, download the white paper.

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Incorporating family identities into school life

August, 2015

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If it takes a village to raise a child, it takes a community to educate one.

Families are the colourful, multicultural, unique and multifaceted building blocks of any school community. A harmonious, integrated affiliation between parents and the school strengthens the student’s support network to work towards the same goal – providing the best education and opportunities possible for the student.

No one denies that parent involvement in their child’s school life positively impacts their learning. But is your school making a genuine effort to include parents?

Although some people naturally gravitate towards parent helper roles within the school, other caregivers may be more hesitant. There are many reasons for this including lack of knowledge of how they can contribute, low self-esteem or shyness, minimal free time or disinterest.

As a school, providing an accommodating community culture, inclusive of a variety of identifiable values, is the best way to make parents feel welcome. A natural manifestation of this culture is regular communication between the school and parents.  Using preferred communication channels to keep parents up to date with school participation opportunities ensures parents are informed of their options.

Schools need to be open to exploring new elements of parental involvement in school life. Help parents find their identity in the school community by being open to their ideas.

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Exposing children and teenagers to new opportunities, hobbies and ways of life broadens their horizon and helps them to find things they’re passionate about.

People love to share their talents and pass on their passion to the next generation. Parents are far more likely to be involved with school if it comprises something they’re interested in.

Parents and caregivers are guaranteed to be harbouring untapped teaching resources to create diversity and excitement for your students. Unlocking the facets that make up their identity may reveal a whole new layer of interactive learning and extracurricular opportunities for children. The only way to do this is by evolving your connection with them.

Communication is so critical to evolve relationships between the school and parents. Going beyond the typical conversation of the child’s progress may uncover many interesting aspects of students’ family life that has the potential to be incorporated into the learning curriculum.

As you get to know parents better, their talents, mannerisms, personality, passions and hobbies will be exposed. Even if they are reluctant to ‘make the first move’ in asking to utilise their talent or expertise within school life, you can certainly give them the invitation.

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It all starts with a conversation.

“You like basketball? Have you thought about coaching a Year 8 team?”

“Sam’s lunches always look amazing! Would you like to contribute to the bake sale to raise money for school camp?”

“Your fluency in Maori is excellent. Would you be interested in teaching the class a few phrases during Maori Language Week?”

“You clearly have a heart for the wellbeing of the school community. Have you thought about joining the Board of Trustees?”

Communities are about relationships. Relationships are about communication. Help your students’ parents feel included and find their identity within their child’s school life through effective, regular communication.

To learn more about effective parent-school communication and strategies to involve parents at school, download the white paper.

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Encouraging parents to connect

August, 2015

School-links

Children spend most of their waking hours at school. However, many parents feel alienated and uninformed about their child’s school life.

This should be of concern to schools, as studies show that parents who are involved in school life are more likely to be supportive of their child’s education and have better relationships with teachers. Parents also benefit from being part of a supportive community of like-minded people and finding their identity within the school. Teachers benefit from the extra support; and parent involvement also reinforces the importance of learning and development in a child.

Win, win, win.

Is your school putting in enough effort to include parents?

The key influencing predictor to parent support of their child’s learning is not parent or child behaviour or attitudes, but the school’s behaviour and attitudes. When parents feel that the school is actively pursuing to involve them, they generally respond by becoming more involved in their child’s education.

Does your school have the right attitude to involving parents? Does it have an accommodating organisational structure? Are you using effective communication methodologies with parents?

It is the school’s role to help parents feel welcome and to find a place in the school network where they feel valued and will make a positive impact.

However, even though some parents want to play a part in their child’s school life, they just don’t know how to make a contribution.

Check out this infographic for ideas on how parents can be involved in school life.

There are many different roles for parents to play that they may not be aware of.

This is where strong communication is essential.

Clear, effective communication between the school and parents will help keep them informed of opportunities to contribute to the school and feel like the school really wants them to be a part of the community.

If cost and time consumption of regular communication to parents is a barrier, there are many technology alternatives to traditional expensive letters, phone calls and paper notices.

Instant messaging appsSMS integrated email and mass text messaging systems are popular low cost communication options that schools across New Zealand are utilising to keep parents in the loop about school involvement opportunities.

To learn more about effective parent-school communication and strategies to involve parents at school, download the white paper.

CTA-parent-engagement-banner

Growing parent engagement

December, 2013

TeOro_Martial Arts_SaraOrme2015 (1)

Over the last few years, technology has given us the ability and tools to communicate with each other more easily and in a multitude of different ways. This has allowed schools to go from having a paper newsletter that gets delivered once a week via the bottom of a school bag (more or less crumpled), to regular emails and text messages.

However this shift in communication is also driving increased demand from parents who want to find out more about, not only what is happening at the school, but also how their child is doing in the classroom. While this may take a bit more precious time of the teachers and staff, providing parents with this information can create a strong and effective partnership between all parties.

To help make this process easier and more efficient, the school needs to create a strategy to help build a stronger relationship between parents and teachers to leverage the combined power of the two which will lead to greater and more positive outcomes for students.

Here are some tips that your school can utilise to improve communications with parents.

Set your goals

Create a conversation to let everyone know what the goals will be for the classroom. Do you want better student attendance? Do you want active and evident parent engagement with homework or class projects their child is involved in? Whatever your goals are, keep them in mind when designing your plan.

Demand high expectations

Research has shown that parental expectations are one of the strongest predictors of student achievement. Your parent engagement plan should set clear, consistent, achievable and high expectations for student performance in class and with the school.

Bringing parents into this will help shift some of the burden and will enable them to reinforce your expectations in the home.

Find out the best way to communicate

It’s a good idea to ask parents what communication methods are best for them – ideally at the start of the year but also at regular intervals during the year. Do not assume that parents are all the same. Find out the best method that works for them.

While email may be great for some parents and is a very cost effective way of communicating, you can also try texting, or other online options like Twitter and Facebook. Some traditional options, like notes and calls home, can be time intensive, but still work for some parents.

Notice and measure what’s happening

Pay attention to your results. Are your communications getting parents engaged? Are unexplained absences reducing? Are parent/teacher attendance rates increasing? Are there fewer complaints about unknown cancelled sports practices or school closures? Are permission slips being returned? Do students arrive prepared for class? What methods are providing the most response from parents and students? You can adapt your plan to make the best use of your time. If most parents respond best to email, then you can save yourself some calls home, and so on.

Don’t let communications and parent engagement be just a checklist; turn it into a strategy for achieving your larger school and classroom goals. Open up the lines of communications with parents, and set them up to be more involved with their children and get them to talk with their kids each day about their school day. Leverage the power of the home as well as the school to get the most out of your students.

To learn more about parent engagement, download our white paper ‘Upholding a child’s education: the three-legged stool effect’.

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Want to learn more? Enquire now.

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