Getting the best out of parent-teacher relationships | Education Support
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Getting the best out of teacher-parent relationships

Getting the best out of parent-teacher relationships

Our recent webinar ‘Getting the best out of parent-teacher relationships,’ hosted by our CEO Sinéad Mc Brearty, was a fascinating conversation between school leader Kully Uppal, counsellor and former teacher Shira Baram and parent and governor Michele Reilly.

Drawing on their experiences, it is full of helpful observations to inform your practice. The webinar is a must-see for teachers and staff who want to improve or build on how they communicate with parents.

A recent YouGov /TeacherTrack survey by Education Support showed that a third (36%) of teachers said they felt that relationships with parents are now better than before the first lockdown. Almost half (43%) meanwhile felt there had been no change and 12% that they have worsened. 

Here are our panel’s top tips on how to have better conversations with parents: 

1. Listen

Like anyone, parents want to feel heard. It is important to give them space to talk and understand the situation if you are raising a concern about their child. Ask if there is a good time to have a conversation. If not, arrange another time. Be curious and ask them if they have noticed anything different about their child? Try to find out if there is anything happening at home that might affect their child.  

Reflect back to show you have understood what they have said to you. Their views and observations are important and will help them feel this is a partnership and things can improve. 

2. Put yourself in their shoes

The pandemic has added to the pressures and demands on parents. They may have two or three children at school. They may feel bombarded with school communication, while trying to work, pay the bills and run a home.

A parent or carer may have had a recent negative experience with their child’s school or during their own time in education. Their background and educational experience may make it hard for them to feel confident or familiar with the system.

Bear these factors in mind. Withhold any judgements and don’t use jargon. 

3. Be prepared!

. Before you speak to a parent, ask yourself ‘do I have the information I need?’. Take heed of any relevant practice or formal guidance from others. A colleague may be able to help with the best approach based on their experience. This will help inform the conversation.

4. Be honest and open

It’s ok to acknowledge if you don’t yet have the answers needed to resolve a situation. Be transparent with parents, and let them know when you’ll get back to them when you have more information. 

5. Set targets and follow up

Agree next steps, record the conversation and send some bullet points to the parent. Then set a date for review and follow up. This is important to build trust.

Watch the webinar