Just as I was nearing the end of my marathon read through the Guide to the Law, I came across the new requirement to report to parents using the internet and/or mobile communications. It was new to me, so I am guessing that there are other governors out there who may be unaware of it, even if their school is already moving towards meeting the requirements. Consequently, I have done a brief web search to find out more and have summarised my findings below.

I am sure that it does not cover everything, but what I would like to do is to give people the opportunity to comment about what they are doing in their schools already, about what works and what doesn’t and for those of us who are not very far down the line to be able to pick up some of the good practice that is already going on.

At the end of this blog, I have referred to two or three schools that seem to be making great strides from what I have read.

So, what is expected of schools?

By September 2010, secondary schools should be reporting on line throughout the year (in ‘real time’) on the following:

  • attendance and behaviour (both positive and challenging)
  • progress and attainment
  • special needs.

All primary schools are expected to achieve this by 2012.

All schools are expected to have begun working towards this from September 2008.

What are the predicted advantages?

  • No additional work for staff – much of the information is there already (for example, attendance figures)
  • Raised learner achievement
  • Improved dialogue between teachers and parents
  • Improved involvement of parents in their children’s learning
  • More flexible working arrangements and distribution of work for staff (instead of writing, say, a huge report at the end of the year, they will have done it at times that suit them throughout the year)
  • More efficient sharing of information
  • Time savings, for example associated with only entering data once, gathering student information, compiling reports and reducing administration

How do we start?

  1. Below is the list of things that Becta suggest schools start to do now.
  2. Identify a member of your leadership team to lead online reporting to parents
  3. Start thinking about where you are on this journey to online reporting
  4. Take some time to consider where you are in the areas of:
    • How you currently exploit technology to engage with parents
    • How your current arrangements for engagement with parents work
    • The ways your staff engage with parents and the ways they use information in their dialogue with parents and learners
    • How your leadership and operational management approaches are designed to support parental engagement
  5. Consider how you will approach your whole school strategy and develop a shared understanding of the online reporting agenda with staff, parents and pupil – including how ICT will support you.
  6. Consult all stakeholders (governors, staff, parents and learners) to agree a strategy
  7. Contact your local authority to discuss specific plans, initiatives or partnerships that may already be in place
  8. Consult ICT suppliers, advisors and consultants to investigate possible solutions to support your school vision.

What are other people doing?

I haven’t been able to find much in the way of specifics, apart from the following: Please, share anything you may be doing and/or things that haven’t been successful so that others can benefit from your experiences.

  1. Give parents online access to targets for the children, have links to activities for parents to practise with their children to help them meet these targets.
  2. List the topic areas for each half term/unit/coursework info and have pointers to useful websites/books/local museums
  3. Podcasts – some made by the children – to show what they are doing and learning
  4. Event logs for behaviour incidents (schools that have done this have used it to help a member of the LT identify children who are ‘at risk’
  5. Visual traffic lights to give info on behaviour/attendance/coursework so it is quick and easy for parents to access
  6. Real time eporting – teachers put in info when it is relevant not just at specific points in the year.

Schools that seem to be doing well in the field. (I picked these up with a quick Google search. Again, please add more in the comments section.)

  • Lent Rise school Burnham, Slough
  • Sir William Borlase, Marlow