Listen twice as much as talk

I have been asked by Governors to report on communications, particularly about the speed of response, as well as some indication of threshold decisions made on when or when not to contact parents to share information.

With 470 children in school each day, and mostly here for six and half hours, there is an awful lot that goes on. We could not possibly report on it all to every parent every day, in detail or individually. We obviously have to make decisions about what we proactively share, how promptly, and in what detail. There is an expectation of reactive communication, in response to a contact from outside school.

This week we have used telephone calls, a newsletter, direct personal email, booked meetings, drop-in meetings, informal conversations, focussed letters, ‘bump’ notes, the school website, blogs, being visible, the front desk, and all our electronic and physical interfaces to share information and enhance contacts. We know we have not seen everyone and not shared everything, nor answered all the unspoken questions but we certainly have continued to ‘reach out’ and to be available.

Conversations have covered additional needs, learning progress, after school activities, lost property, Year 7 transition, attendance issues, parking near school, relationships education, safety, well-being, leave of absence, and many other topics besides.

We are honestly happy to meet, listen and talk as much as we can, and we will continue to do so.

Last time Governors looked at this issue, they considered the Charter published by Sheffield City Council. That has been replaced, and targets removed. If you dig a little deeper, in areas such as the SCC Complaints Policy, you can still find a timescale for response to complaints. The policy says 3 days or 28 days limit, depending on the level of investigation. School’s policy is tighter and shorter than this, at 15 days.

Some of what we must do is laid down in regulation, but most is school’s own policy or simple practice – we try to respond fully as quickly as possible of course.

I think we will struggle to define all the possible scenarios where school should contact parents and then give timelines, but Governors are intent on trying to tie this down.

You, perhaps, have professional experience of a communication policy – I’d welcome hearing the service standards from your organisation.

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