Communications Guidance Letter November 2020
You can download a copy of the following letter here.
In line with many schools, we are clarifying our communications guidance to support the interests of students, parents/guardians and all those that have links with our school. As you are all aware from the media and from your own experience, professional workload is a major contributor to the pressure on staff and often cited as a reason for the loss of good staff from schools.
As a school, we are mindful of the needs of our students, their parents/guardians, and also our staff. We aim to offer our staff the best possible environment to work in. As part of our work in this area, we have developed the attached guidance in line with the Department for Education National Guidelines, research on reducing teacher workload and feedback from our staff team.
A key finding is that the need to communicate with parents/guardians within a very short time frame places a significant demand upon our teachers within their busy teaching day. As a school, we appreciate the need to manage both parental expectations of teachers’ response times, and also ensure high standards of home-school communications. I am therefore writing to you to outline some guidance about communication that the school is going to follow. I believe that it will lead to a reduction in the day-to-day pressure to respond to general parental emails outside of the working day. This will ensure that work and home boundaries are clearer and also that parents/guardians better understand the context in which teachers are working, and can modify their expectations of an immediate response.
By signalling your first ports of call, we are determined to ensure that communication is distributed and directed more appropriately across the staff team.
I am also including a series of FAQs linked to each Pastoral Year Group that should help you and reduce the need to wait for email responses.
Rachel Smith (Headteacher)
You can download a copy of the following policy here.
It is very important to us that we work closely in partnership with parents and carers, and communication between home and school is key. We recognise however that it can often be difficult communicating with teachers because they have a very full timetable; and we recognise that parents and carers also have very busy lives. We aim to respond to parents and carers within 3 working days – whether by email or telephone unless it is a safeguarding matter.
Communications should focus on the learning experience of students and personal progress. If further information is needed after the initial reply, please liaise with the Head of Department, Head of Faculty or the Headteacher’s office rather than repeatedly emailing individual staff. If the issue is linked to a pastoral matter, then the first email should be directed to the student’s tutor followed by the Head of Learning.
When contacting the school, the language used should always be respectful and not emotive or judgemental. Our staff are very important to us and should always be respected and not have their professionalism called into question. Anyone involved in communication between home and school is asked to reflect on the tone and content. For example, calling into question the ability of a member of staff undermines them and does not help to resolve issues arising from the collaborative efforts of the learning process. If the professionalism of a teacher is brought into question, please be aware that the school can only progress this if the Complaints Procedure is evoked and followed. If a Parent Governor is involved in a complaint then the communication should be shared with the Headteacher in the first instance.
The Headteacher has the right to ask a parent or carer or other stakeholder to stop communication if the contents of that verbal or written communication are deemed libellous, slanderous or if repetitive communications that may be deemed as vexatious are used. We have a duty of care to our students and staff and therefore will take any necessary steps to protect students and staff whilst undergoing work or activities associated with the school. If emotive, aggressive or unpleasant behaviour is shown verbally or face to face, the Headteacher also reserves the right remove a visitor from site and ask them not to return. If a phone call becomes aggressive then staff are asked to end the call in a respectful manner and to report it to their line manager.
Contacting the School
Student planner - Communication by email or student planner is the preferred method:
- Notes in student planners are by far the best way to get a message to a teacher promptly and should be used for the majority of everyday communication;
- The student is responsible for showing your note to the correct teacher. This is the best way to ask staff to contact you if you require a more detailed conversation.
Teachers want to respond to parental queries at the earliest opportunity and will do their best to do so. However, the majority of a teacher’s time is taken up teaching and preparing for lessons. Teachers’ responsibilities extend beyond the classroom, and they may be unable to respond to you on the day a query is made. We have also agreed with staff that there is no expectation to respond to queries during their personal/family time. We aim to respond to parents and carers within 3 working days – whether by email or telephone unless it is a safeguarding matter.
Please use the main reception number to leave a message for a teacher to contact you:
- Reception staff will relay messages to teachers as soon as possible.
- If a call is urgent, please inform the receptionist who will attempt to find a senior member of staff to speak to you.
- We will try to respond to you within three working days, if not the same day.
- Please note lessons will never be interrupted for teachers to take calls.
- Please do not contact any student during lessons by text, social media, telephone or email if you do not receive a reply.
Please use staff email addresses if you need to contact staff directly. A list of these are available at the end of this page. Teachers are not generally in a position to check emails throughout the day and the school does not expect work email to be checked during a teacher’s personal time.
We aim to respond to you as soon as possible and usually within three working days. Part-time staff may take longer to reply due to their pattern of working.
The day-to-day care, welfare and safety of your child is managed by the person who is placed closest to them; their tutor and Head of Learning.
In the first instance, please approach the following members of staff who are responsible for your child in the following order:
1)Form Tutor or Classroom Teacher (if query is relevant to a specific subject)
2) Head of Learning (pastoral matters, learning across multiple subjects)
3) Subject Leader (specific subject matter)
4) Assistant Headteacher
5) Deputy Headteacher
Most meetings should always be pre-arranged with members of staff.
If you urgently need to see someone, for instance if there is a serious family emergency or a child protection issue, please phone ahead and the reception staff will do their best to find a senior member of staff to see you. For non-urgent meetings we will aim to meet with you within five working days. The
school will determine the level of urgency at its discretion, to enable it to manage multiple demands.
Our preferred method of contacting you is via School Comms. We may also contact you via telephone, letter, email and the Head’s Weekly Update.
We use our social media channels to promote student achievements, subject information and generic educational information. You can find these by searching Facebook (@BeaconsfieldHS), Instagram (beaconsfieldhighschool), Twitter (@Becky_High) and Vimeo (beckyhigh).
Any concerns that lead to friendship issues with regard to the inappropriate use of social media outside of school need to be discussed between parents and families and not, in the first instance, with the school. The reason for this is that the school cannot monitor the use of social media outside of school hours. Parents need to discuss with students about the appropriate social media and sites to access. The school can provide guidance if requested.
If you have not received a response from the school within three working days please contact the school by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org and we will follow up your enquiry. Communication with parents and carers is important to us, and we will continue to monitor this policy and our approach to improve the process further.