Dealing with a breakdown in trust from parents

Insight – Primary School

What was the issue addressed?
We had to rebuild relationships with the parent community due to the Category coding which was release earlier in the year, this has been a difficult period due to the drop in category.

Some parents have also left the school due to the category coding which has impacted the school budget.

Alongside this issues, there have been changes amongst Governors, including a period of 12 months within which several different people took on the role of Chair of Governors. It was difficult to work with at times as we had a loss of continuity.

A lack of communication with parents from the school also led to complaints.

What happened?
We held regular meetings with parents to provide updates and created a parent forum with the support of the challenge advisor. Technology was used to improve communication – i.e. Class DoJo and electronic newsletters.

What lessons were learnt?
We are still working through most of the issues as they are current. I feel that lessons have been learnt however. We still have a long way to grow and develop. Professional support, especially from the Challenge Advisor, has been helpful.

Continuity is key and all the changes we have had as a school, staffing, pupil numbers, changes to Governors positions, have certainly not helped the situation.

Note – The Welsh Government has published a school improvement framework, which replaces the National Categorisation and is a robust self-evaluation system where good practice can be shared and failure is urgently addressed.

How schools engage with parents and carers is crucial. This case study provides an excellent example of the effect of dropping into a different national category and the reaction of parents as a result.

The School has implemented a variety of good approaches with the support from the Challenge Adviser to develop communication strategies with parents. This now needs to become fully embedded into everyday life and developed over time. Every school will have their own communication strategy in place, and what works for one may not always work as well for another school. By keeping parents fully informed along the way, this can prevent complaints and concerns escalating.

The numerous changes of the Chair of governors in a 12-month period is considerable and would not have helped to promote stability. The school and governing body now need to pull together in a concerted effort to develop and implement a longer-term Communication/PR strategy.

There are lots of examples of effective practice that provide useful ways to engage with parents. Effective parental engagement can help to inform strategic planning, improve learner outcomes, promote community engagement, as well as improving governor accountability. Parent surveys, information published in school bulletins and on the schools’ website about the work of the governing body and key school priorities, governor representative(s) attending parent evenings, are some of the ways to engage with parents.

Governors Cymru Services has a resource for governors on engaging with parents.

Here are a few case studies provided by Estyn to also help you on your way:

Parental involvement with schools helps pupils achieve
Involving parents – Communication between schools and parents of school-aged children

Information from Welsh Government:

Parenting engagement and support: guidance for providers
Family and community engagement toolkit: welcoming families to engage with the school

Has your school faced a weakening of confidence from parents?
How do you communication with the school’s parent community?
Have you had to deal with significant numbers of changes to governors? How did you cope with this?

Have your say…
Have you had experiences similar to these?
What do you think about the situation described?

Contact Us

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Sam MacNamara – 07943 887275 / Jane Morris – 07957 969708