DISPLAYING ITEMS BY TAG: PARENTAL ENGAGEMENT

Imagine this scenario. You wear a wristwatch-like device to track the number of miles you walk; you monitor each day’s progress and sync the data to your smart phone and computer. You watch your favourite TV shows on your tablet, whenever you can catch a few minutes. You keep up with your friends near and far using Facebook, Google+, and Twitter.

At the heart of any outstanding school is a commitment to the wellbeing and success of all of its pupils. All members in the school community have an impact on children’s attainment either directly or indirectly, so ensuring a core focus on learners and learning is essential to creating an optimised learning environment.

While our schools generally remain a safe haven for children, enabling parents to part with their little ones each morning, confident that they are out of danger, emergencies do happen making it crucial for schools and parents to be prepared, should the worst come to pass.

It’s very difficult to put into words how incredibly important Twitter has been in our practice this year in Primary 1. It was a very new approach for me at the start of the academic year, and I was gently persuaded by my colleague to climb on board the ‘Twitter Train’. Little did I know the impact it would have, not only on the pupils, parents and school, but also on my life! I try to use my camera every day to capture moments of pure educational magic and then spend half my night uploading them with creative hashtags. In fact, I’ve been told by some family members it might become an obsession… and it has! However, it has to be said that this Twitter addiction has had a positive effect on my teaching practice and has allowed me to access areas of communication and learning I hadn’t reached before.

As part of my job I attend a lot of education shows and meet a lot of teachers and heads in the UK. When I talk to them about improving their parental engagement I get a variety of responses. Some (hopefully half-jokingly!) say “Do we have to?”, but most are really interested in how this can be done.

As a dad of eight, preparation for World Book Day starts early in my house. Unfortunately, the 'early' assertion usually relates to the morning of the day itself, with my wife and I rifling through the fancy dress box to match outfits to much-loved book characters for our children to wear. While lack of forethought is undoubtedly quite remiss on my part, I work in children's publishing, and so the annual event should have long since ceased to creep up and surprise me. I do love the whirlwind of chaos that results from trying to conceive plausible outfits that look like favourite book protagonists. In an instant, an oversized black coat becomes a wizard's cloak, and a smattering of face paint transforms a child wearing an orange t-shirt into the Cheshire cat.

As we March (ahem) into the spring, it is time to find sunshiny shortcuts and time-saving strategies, dear IMS-reader. The questions this month have been based around improvement and engagement. Please send in questions for next month via [email protected] for next months piece.

Parents have a very different perspective. Whilst educators wax lyrical about the potential of the iPad for learning, there are concerns from parents about its impact on their child. Or so we thought.

All parents of iPad trial students were asked to complete a questionnaire, attend a focus group meeting and email any further thoughts to inform the decision making progress for future iPad use. A great deal of time was taken by these parents as they were keen to convey their thoughts to inform the research process and we are very grateful for all their efforts.

Below are direct responses to questions from the focus group where parents were encouraged to discuss with each other the various advantages and disadvantages of the iPad for learning.

Photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/dgmckelvey

It is a natural sentiment for parents to want the best for their children and many who have entered the teaching profession have done so because of their love of children.

Is your school considering online payments for parents?

With a steady decline in the use of cheques, schools are becoming increasingly concerned with the growing amounts of cash being handled on school premises. Not only is this an obvious burden for school administrative staff, it also represents a substantial risk to a school’s security, which results in an increase in insurance coverage. There is not a better time to consider an alternative cashless payment mechanism that parents can use to settle costs for school trips, uniforms or other school related items.

Regardless of the number of transactions your school makes, you can benefit from becoming a cashless school. The benefits of an online payment portal direct to schools include: the reduction of administrative burden, no duplicate entries, fully auditable payments, and a reduction in the costs of security associated with handling cash and cheques on school premises. Hours can be saved by not having to count, report and bank cash or cheques received from pupils and parents. In addition, payments can be easily reconciled to give an up-to-date picture of who has paid for items and those with amounts outstanding.

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