Compassionate dialogue is at the heart of our best practice. This is as true for parents as it is for students. We communicate frankly and openly with parents.
From the very start of their relationship with the school parents enter a respectful dialogue with the school. This does not consist of the school giving advice and coaching to parents. It is a conversation in which the perceptions and actions of both sides are valid and relevant to the progress of children.
We are open with information
The moment they enroll their children, they will receive a welcome message from the child’s tutor, setting up a first meeting. The teacher responsible for parent engagement will also get in touch and they will automatically form a part of the PTO. We hope that this will be the start of a long partnership.
The school is open with information. There are many documents outlining school policies and handbooks for parents and students. Teachers openly share information with parents: there is a regularly updated file in each child’s online folder which includes teacher comments and examples of projects; parents can also add information and images to this file. We think it is better to keep this real: we love it when parents read to their kids, have deep conversations with them, go for a hike or visit a museum.
Talk to the teacher
There are many opportunities to talk to the class teacher. Parents can usually have a short chat after school hours without making an appointment. They may also volunteer to work in the school and have direct contact with teaching staff. In addition, there are many social events through the school year at which parents can get to know members of staff: festivities, performances and exhibitions, for example. We welcome parents who want to bring their own experience and skills into the school and there are mechanisms in place to ensure that this contribution is balanced and appropriate.
Every term parents receive a short report from the school in line with our reporting schedule and once a year there is a formal parent teacher conference day at which they can book a slot to talk to any teacher who has contact with their child. They can add their own observations to this report.
If parents have significant worries, they can arrange a formal conversation including the Head of Phase and the Principal. Formal conversations are always minuted and normally take place in the Principal’s office. Possible reasons for a formal conversation are requests for expert advice over learning problems, exceptional requests for absence or formal complaints. Complaints always follow the school Complaints Procedure (Appendix: Complaints Procedure).
Parents can engage with the school at the upper levels by adopting the core principles of:
We want to hear what their experiences are so that we can adapt our own practice. We may produce a collaborative school magazine or yearbook using articles from parents and teachers, for example.