Burning Question: Is there such a thing as too much information for parents?

Asked by: Geoff Jones, director, ParentMail (parentmail.co.uk)

With research continually reiterating the significant role that parents can play in driving their child’s academic achievement, I think it’s safe to say that parental engagement is still a key Government target and top of the agenda for every school.

In a recent survey that we carried out with 2,000 parents, almost 75 per cent said that they would like more information from school on their child’s education than they are currently receiving, and almost half felt that they are receiving feedback too late to be able to act on any problem that could impede the learning progress.

As a parent myself, I think good parental engagement begins with providing parents with frequent feedback on their child’s schooling. This communication should not be relegated to parents’ evenings and annual reports alone.

Face to face communication will always be important, but parents lead very busy lives, so it can be difficult for them to find time to meet with a teacher to discuss their child’s development. By working together, and using technology to its full advantage, parents and schools can synchronise to help improve learning.

The argument however does not just rest with the quantity of communication; it is important for schools to consider the quality as well. To ensure that parents don’t suffer from a seeming ‘information overload’, I think schools should be listening to what parents actually need and want in order to negate this.

School to home communication is about more than just passing a message home or a call to action. It is about giving parents the information they need to become fully involved in their child’s education; providing them with regular feedback on their child’s behaviour, progress or assessment, so that they can develop a deeper understanding, and assist in learning, offer praise or correct behaviour when it is required. I value regular involvement in my child’s education, and believe that having meaningful feedback from the school to act upon is vital. Essentially, parents should be viewed as partners in their child’s education.

As a parent myself therefore, I certainly don’t think there is such a thing as too much information.