Schools need to develop strategies for better online communications with parents

Schools must have clearer strategies for the way they communicate with parents in order to promote good relationships between home and schools, according to research by Dr Emma Head, a sociologist from Keele University. 

Dr Head sought to investigate the ways in which communications between schools and parents are impacting on parents’ involvement with their child’s education and found that the increasing digitalisation of these communications is contributing to a “bureaucratisation” of home-school relationships. 

Dr Head’s research, published in the British Journal of Sociology of Education, was a qualitative study involving interviews with 15 mothers about their experiences of parenting a primary school-aged child in England. 

The interviews were focused on their experiences of digital technologies, home-school relations, and parenting, with the results indicating that the amount of digital communication parents receive from school is having an impact on how they engage with their child’s education. 

In some cases, Dr Head argues, managing communications and information sent out by the school is taking precedence over other aspects of parental involvement in education, with schools using multiple forms of digital communication to stay in touch with parents. 

This can become confusing and difficult to manage, according to the participants Dr Head interviewed, with mothers saying that spending time trying to manage the communications from school and keep track of information sometimes seemed a bigger task than trying to support their children's learning directly.  

This, Dr Head says, supports a case for schools to come up with clearer strategies for how they communicate with parents and to think carefully about how they use digital technologies for this purpose, so that they inclusively support children and their parents in ways that promote positive home-school relations and improve the wellbeing of families. 

Dr Head said: The lockdown has highlighted many important issues around online education. A particular concern has been that many parents and children don’t have access to the devices needed for online home schooling. This study adds another dimension to these concerns with digital educational technologies and suggests some parents need more help with accessing and managing communications from schools.