Effectively communicating with parents has always been important, but it’s now more crucial than ever. Due to Covid-19, parents are extra worried about health and safety, and may have questions about the ‘new normal’ we are all facing.

Both day and boarding schools should always keep parents informed about everything that’s going on, whether it affects the whole school or just their individual child.

But how do you address these concerns and communicate well, even if the parents are based internationally? Here are Digithrive for Schools’ top tips for communicating with parents in the current climate.

Top tips: Communicating with UK-based and international parents

Post on social media

Posting regularly on your school’s social media channels is a great way to communicate with prospective parents. As it is a public medium, social media is the place to shout about your school’s achievements, whether it’s excellent exam results, an exciting project or a sporting victory. Social media scheduling programmes like Hootsuite are incredibly useful, as you can bulk schedule content in advance and choose the exact time and date for it to be posted. 

Keep your school’s profiles looking professional with sharp images that are in-line with your school branding. That doesn’t mean you can’t post candid moments, but make sure that they are taken with a good quality camera. Encourage parents to follow your social media accounts and post at least 2-3 times a week, and soon enough you will have built an online community that adds an extra dimension to your school’s communications.

It is also important to create a private Facebook group for parents, as not everyone is comfortable with images of their child being shared publicly on social media. A private Facebook group provides parents with a safe, discreet place to communicate with each other and staff. You have the ability to approve who joins the group, to make sure they are actually a current parent. This adds an extra level of security and allows you to freely post information that you only want parents to know, as well as more candid, casual images and videos of children.

Send email newsletters

Social media is fantastic, but email newsletters should not be overlooked. Not all parents have social media, and you don’t want them to miss out on important announcements. Plus, social media is better for visual, snappy and informal content, whereas emails are better for longer, more detailed and formal content. Both are key to successful communication.

You should have a school email newsletter that you send out to parents at least every month (if you don’t, read this). It may include a note from the Head, extra-curricular news, dates for the diary and other important information. 

Segmenting data is extremely important for school mailing lists. By dividing your newsletter subscribers into categories, for example by year group, you can send them personalised emails that are relevant to them. For instance, while parents of year 11 pupils should be kept up-to-date with the latest GCSEs news (e.g. coursework deadlines and revision clubs), this wouldn’t be relevant for year 8 parents.

Frequently update the website

Your school website will often be the first port-of-call that prospective and current parents alike turn to for information. Make sure the site is regularly updated and accurate so parents are clear on everything they need to know, from how to contact the school to upcoming open days.

You should also have a school blog or news section on your website. This doesn’t have to create a lot of extra work for you – after sending out your email newsletters, you can repurpose the newsletter content on your school website, which allows prospective parents to see the impressive news too.

Schedule digital meetings

Due to the Coronavirus pandemic, teachers and parents are not able to communicate in-person in the manner that they used to, for example open days are now mostly either private tours or virtual open days. 

Hosting regular virtual meetings between school staff and parents is a great way to keep them up to date with their child’s schooling and address any questions and concerns they may have. Both group meetings, where the Head or another senior staff member addresses lots of parents, and one-on-one meetings to discuss individual grades and progress, are an effective way to communicate during the pandemic, particularly with parents who are overseas.

After the meeting, send an automated follow-up email thanking them for their time and check if they have any further comments or questions.

Listen to feedback from parents

It’s important to give parents a chance to have their voices heard. Read our guide to online review management for schools and how to increase good online reviews for more. Not only will good online reviews improve your search engine rankings, but it shows parents that you are open to feedback.

All reviews and comments, both online and offline, should be listened to and treated with respect. Rather than making excuses, or trying to change the parent’s mind, show that you have taken their comments on board and that the school will take steps to justify the matter, or at the very least, discuss it.

To find out more about how Digithrive can help with your school’s communication, book a consultation now.