Why online parents' evenings are here to stay!

Things you would have been laughed at for suggesting 12 months ago, now make perfect sense

MAT Deputy CEO, Director of School Improvement

There are many things that schools are now doing, that previous to the pandemic, we’d have never dreamed of doing. Split lunchtimes, blended learning, staggered starts and ends to the day are just a few that spring to mind. However, even though you’d have been laughed at for suggesting some of these strategies 12 months ago, we are beginning to find some unexpected benefits from some of the ‘new normal’. One of these new strategies that has been receiving some significant positive feedback from both parents and teaches is online parents’ evenings.

Having been unable to hold the traditional style parents’ evenings this term due to current restrictions, schools and trusts like ours have been trialling the use of Google Meet and other video meeting platforms to take these traditional and potentially stressful events online. Early indications are that feedback is extremely positive and that in many ways this new approach is far more beneficial to both parents and teachers.

If you’re not doing it already, here’s a thread of 10 reasons why as a profession, we shouldn’t go back to traditional ways when it comes to parents’ evenings…

1. Parents don’t have to rush home from work to get there on time.

2. It doesn’t feel like the opening of the January sales in the car park, with parents having to ditch their cars on grass verges and kerbs because your car park is already full.

3. No more big queues in the main hall or waiting to jump into a seat, the second the parent in front of you has got out of it.

4. Not having to talk about your own child and the personal difficulties they may be facing, when another parent is sat 1m away from you doing the same thing.

5. Appointments don’t all have to be crammed in together within 90 mins of each other.

6. Greater flexibility for both staff, students and parents on when to schedule appointments. This could be over a number of days or during non-contact time throughout the school day.

7. Easily screenshare a piece of work to demonstrate something, rather than having to have everything printed out or have had the forethought to predict what a parent might want to see.

8. Less experienced members of staff can be joined in the call (from a separate location) by the HoY or senior staff if required.

9. Greater emphasis on accurate timekeeping in meetings.

10. We’ve got the technology to do this so we can make it a much more pleasant experience.

So, if you haven’t already experimented with online parents’ evening – give it a go! Like many things we have learnt during this period, you may look back and wonder why we weren’t always doing it this way.

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