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“Tell me more about my child’s learning” – new research reveals parents hungry for more personalised information from schools

Pupil working in classroom

Parents are hungry for schools to give them more personalised information about their child’s learning, a new in-depth research report from Firefly Learning, the trusted online platform for whole school engagement, has revealed. The report found that the top three requests from parents were: more personalised information about their child’s learning, more regular communication, and more information on how they can support their child. 

The research was undertaken in the summer and early autumn and found that, although many parents receive updates on their child’s learning at least monthly, a third are only getting updates half termly or termly.  When asked about how schools stayed in touch about children’s learning, only two fifths reported being able to see their child’s homework and assignments online, and a similar number said they could see the feedback their child receives on their homework. 

Despite this, the research found that parents were overwhelmingly positive about their child’s school with 83% saying their child’s school met or exceeded expectations. 

Simon Hay, Firefly Learning CEO and also a parent and school governor, said:

“Our research shows that while parents have been even more closely involved in their child’s learning in the past 20 months it is also clear that many are struggling to understand how best to support their child’s learning at home.  This report digs deeper into those challenges and presents a range of interesting practice taking place in school, revealing how schools are making parents part of the learning conversation.”

The research also surveyed teachers to get their views and found that, in contrast to parents, only 67% felt their school was meeting or exceeding parent expectations. Furthermore, interviews with teachers, school leaders and education stakeholders, all expressed surprise at how positive parents feel.

Dan Locke-Wheaton, Principal of Aston University Engineering Academy in Birmingham, added:

“It’s hugely encouraging to know parents are positive about their child’s school and that so many would like to receive more information about their child’s learning. The challenge for schools is how we can provide this without it taking too much time. For me, technology can play a vital role, giving parents – and teachers – the flexibility to engage with parents at a time and place of their choosing.”

Schools have accelerated their understanding of how to harness education technology since the pandemic, and the research found that teachers’ most popular communication method to stay in touch with parents was to use video conferencing, followed by online parent portals and email. Teachers were much less likely to use traditional means like letters, telephone or face to face meetings. Interestingly, parents reported that their most popular method of communication was email which is concerning for schools as it is much more time-consuming and harder to track. 

Simon Hay, Firefly Learning CEO and also a parent and  school governor, said:

“Leading schools are keen to use time-saving technology to help them talk to parents and this could provide a really positive solution to helping to meet parents’ wishes for more personalised information about their child’s learning. Our research suggests that parents still need encouragement to move beyond email communications, but if schools can be clear how new technologies can provide more information I feel this could be positive for everyone.”

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