This morning we had a record turnout for our guardian’s / parent’s meeting, according to teachers who have been at the school for decades. 64 guardians wrote their names in the attendance register, but the numbers were probably higher as some arrived late.
Many of our guardians have two or three children at the school, so we probably had about 80 or 90 of our (122) students represented at the meeting, which is as good attendance as any school I have worked at in the UK.
I say it was a guardian’s ‘meeting’ but we tried to make it not like a meeting at all. We gathered the guardian’s at the start of the morning and gave three very short speeches. The rest of the time was dedicated to guardians having one-to-one discussions with their child’s class and subject teachers.
What made it a success?
- we sent out two letters of invitation and I asked each teacher to personally invite guardians by phone (I’m not sure how many actually did it, but the turnout suggests quite a few)
- we scheduled the meeting for 7.30am, which we estimated would be the most convenient time for guardians
- we promised to let the teachers leave at 1.30pm to compensate for the early start
- we gave our teachers training on how to give effective feedback to guardians (be positive and be specific)
- we encouraged guardian’s to meet with each of their child’s teachers, not just their class teacher (who after all has no way of really knowing how well a student is doing in any given subject)
- we had student volunteers greeting the guardians at the school gate, and helping to usher them from teacher to teacher. It didn’t work perfectly, but without the students’ help it would have been chaos
- we gave the guardians tea and biscuits.
The morning was soured a little by a group of teachers who lobbied to close school early following the meeting. I insisted we keep school open until 1.30pm as we had agreed, but it shows we still have some way to go to establish a professional culture, which puts students’ learning first.