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MIS Systems Thread, Parental Engagement & Network Managers in Technical; I am leading a session in think tank next week about Parental Engagement and would like your views to take ...
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    russdev's Avatar
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    Parental Engagement & Network Managers

    I am leading a session in think tank next week about Parental Engagement and would like your views to take with me.

    So the blurb says

    NETWORK MANAGERS are in a special situation in having to manage potentially new systems of data processing and interoperability. How is Parental Engagement influencing their work? Does the support for Primary schools need to be reconsidered? Does every child now signify an additional user account for Home-Access ie at least doubling the number of permitted user-accounts? As Home-Access becomes more popular (and large numbers of children and parents could be on-line) how will this affect on-line licensing? Is SSO an issue?
    So to me this is split into two issues

    Technical:

    Licenses
    Usersnames
    SSO
    More servers (if hosted on site)
    etc

    Non-Technical
    Who supports the parents at 8pm at night when they can't login in
    Does the system make sure court order parents do not get access if not how do you deal with that?
    Smaller schools and primnary schools
    Is the system showing only info required (behaviour??)

    What peoples views on this and how it effects our role?

    Cheers

    Russ

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    I'd go back one step and ask "how does your school define parental engagement" because it seems to me that this is a term which could be interpreted in a huge number of ways.

    Do you mean on-line access to reports and assessment, if so how current does that data have to be? Annual reports? Test results? Graphs of key stage levels? There might also be an interpretation in which you want the parents to be able to see the student's work, or the schemes of work, or the student's homework due, or done, or ANYTHING....

    I don't think that it's possible to ask the questions you're asking (and they're good questions) until there is a very clear vision for parental engagement in the school, and a roadmap of how that might develop over the next few years. Otherwise I would worry that there is a risk of the technology cart driving the parental engagement horse.

    My personal view of course.

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    russdev's Avatar
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    I should say through out the day number of sessions from different people

    Naace: Enabling Parent Engagement Think Tank, March 30th 2010

    Russ

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    john's Avatar
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    I was at a local schools meeting about this and how a few secondarys in my area were going to tackle this and the key thing we decided was we need clear guidance and its all rather woolly. What is exactly needed is it just the end of term reports / progress reviews etc or is it access to the students home areas, VLE areas, Emails etc...

    We also discussed costs and interoperability, with our area some parents send a child to say our school and a neighbouring school, so potential for confused parents, the systems that we use for this engaging parents also need to be Student Friendly as who does the students parent often turn to when they are having IT issues, its often the student.

    Look into more than just engaging via the web, other mediums such as text messaging is another way.

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    penfold_99's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by andrewsmart View Post
    I'd go back one step and ask "how does your school define parental engagement" because it seems to me that this is a term which could be interpreted in a huge number of ways.
    That is the million pound question and the answer is the majority of schools don't. Schools are relying on supplier to implement the vision, but as the guidance is grey, suppliers are sticking to what jim knight said, but even the isn't clear as how do you define progress?

    The term Parental Engagement should be Parental Involvement. As you wan the parents involved not just engaged. As involved parents we help student learning at home. Most Parental engagement systems, miss the learning link as this give a context to all the data held on a student. As most parents have know idea what a 5a is but will understand the feedback a teacher give a student on a piece of work.

    Quote Originally Posted by andrewsmart View Post
    Do you mean on-line access to reports and assessment, if so how current does that data have to be? Annual reports? Test results? Graphs of key stage levels? There might also be an interpretation in which you want the parents to be able to see the student's work, or the schemes of work, or the student's homework due, or done, or ANYTHING....
    The bare minimum you could offer is online access to a pdf of a printed report.

    Quote Originally Posted by andrewsmart View Post
    I don't think that it's possible to ask the questions you're asking (and they're good questions) until there is a very clear vision for parental engagement in the school, and a roadmap of how that might develop over the next few years. Otherwise I would worry that there is a risk of the technology cart driving the parental engagement horse.
    This is so true and there is the possibility of schools wasting lots of money on poor parental engagement systems, just like when LAs purchased a county wide platform and it wasn't adopted by secondaries as it wasn't as good as moodle.

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    GrumbleDook's Avatar
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    Try to consider parental engagement not just as a thing between the parent and the school. Ultimately it is any action which promotes and provokes the question between parent/guardian and the child, "What did you do today at school?" and gets more than just an answer of "Ug!"

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    penfold_99's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by GrumbleDook View Post
    Try to consider parental engagement not just as a thing between the parent and the school. Ultimately it is any action which promotes and provokes the question between parent/guardian and the child, "What did you do today at school?" and gets more than just an answer of "Ug!"
    It a two way communication triangle. Parents that get involved with be able to better support there children, but the guidelines only stipulate that theres a school to parent communication instead of insisting the inclusion of a facility for better parent to school communication.

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    Way I see it this is just another overspun nonsense narrative from a bunch of folk who very naively went and reinvented the pre DotCom crash utopian culture where the net/technology would fix everything (they missed out the first time around because it was still fashionable for their type to look down their noses at declasse tech).

    "Parental engagement" my backside .. it's viable as a relatively mundane but potentially more efficient alternative to conventional comms with parents. I suppose the insanely competitives might pore over the stats you put up and use them to make their kids existence even more miserable, and some of those stats might prompt the occasional almost-there parent to pull their finger out and sit down with their kid re. some aspect of the curriculum.

    Otherwise I reckon parents tend to be the engaging type or they don't. And critically do not forget that many don't have much time being busy with increasingly stressful modern jobs, commutes, their own homework, household chores/paperwork, taxi driving kids to a club or two and so on.

    Plus there's a self-important root assumption that I doubt anyone has tested. When I ask Sprogette what she did at school, what am I actually asking? For me it's about the social human e.g. were they happy/sad/bored, is so-and-so still being shitty towards them, is X still their "boyfriend". You could never put what I'm seeking up on the net.

    It's an information service. If you're lucky it might occasionally provoke some of that genuine parental engagement in their learning, but I don't see it having a significant effect. It could even be detrimental in some ways i.e. be used an excuse to forgo some hitherto real life contact between schools and parents.

  9. Thanks to PiqueABoo from:

    enjay (30th March 2010)

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    bossman's Avatar
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    @all:

    I feel it is just another outlet for the schools to manage and yes there are those parents who will engage and work with both their children and the school in getting the best for their child but on the other side of the fence is the parent who doesn't give a damn about their child and these are probably the ones who will suffer.

    just imagine 2 students one with caring parents and the other with one or more parents who don't care, what is the kind of conversation with their friends going to sound like, "hey Johnny me Mam an Dad think i'm great cos I have got good grades, they were on the schools system last night. What's yours think?".

    Johnny knows his Mother is more bothered about feeding the rest of the family as his Dad's just been made redundant and the last thing they are bothered about is his school grades or what he is doing at school and even if they were to go on the school system they might just find out that because of the problems at home Dad has started to get angry all the time and this has had an effect on Johnny's school work so the last thing Johnny wants is his Dad going ballistic and kicking off because of it.

    This is just a small scenario but in our catchment area this is what happens and there will be know way of getting round this. It is a great idea in theory but one that is massively flawed because of the differences in family life and in different areas of the country.

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    GrumbleDook's Avatar
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    Yep ... and that is why it is important for schools to decide what is appropriate rather than just taken what is given by suppliers or driven by LAs. Unfortunately ... there are school out there that aren't even trying. The whole idea should be about making it as simple as possible for the parents and kids to talk about things. I know some folk think of it as another hoop for schools, but it is more than that.

    If school know more about the home environments some kids are in then they can help the kid deal with it ... the parents can be helped too. Having conversations with parents who have enough on their plate already is hard. That doesn't mean we should not have those conversations. If you do avoid them then things can (and usually do) get worse. There are plenty of studies that show this ...

    One thing you will some happen in some schools is that because little Johnny is having trouble at home his school work suffers, he has problems in class, this gets back home, his home life suffers and it goes in a vicious circle. You also get the families who have already been through this cycle and see education and schools as the enemy ... and rather than trying to see someone offering out a hand to help they shun it, or even attack it, not accepting any responsibility on themselves or their children for any of the problems.

    You then get the schools that have people with no sympathy for little Johnny. They just see him as a disruption in class and so they rest of the class don't suffer he is always sent out, not dealt with, made someone else's problem.

    There has to be a middle ground. If giving some simple tools to break down these barriers helps then what is so wrong with that? People keep going on about online reporting ... and in Bossman's example, with a family living below the breadline, then online access is not something important. Feeding the family is ... but by popping into the local library and accessing stuff ... or even at the school should they have it setup ... then it helps. Receiving and sending txt messages to the school ... or finding out about things you are entitled to to help (Home Access scheme for a computer with connectivity also addresses some of this) then this is not a bad thing.

    The main problem is ignorance ... people just simply not knowing what is out there to help and support their family. Dealing with that ... that is a good target.

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    @piqueaboo
    Nope ... not overspun ... seen some damn good examples about how it has made a difference in some pretty bad areas too.

    Is it the answer to everything? Heavens, no ...
    Is it a replacement for what may be going on? No ... but it is trying to fill some of the gaps, and some people might even find it better than how they already do things.
    Can it make the difference with some families? Yes ... but it won't make a difference to them all.
    Because it won't solve everyone' problem should we throw it all out? No. We might have to look and consider whether it is cost effective though ... heck, if we had enough money we would be looking at class sizes of 15-20, one laptop per child, 100 meg to the house ... but sometimes you have to work out it is better spending money elsewhere. I bet many Americans would say that having a state health care system for all won't catch all who need it ... that hasn't stopped a certain Mr Obama working hard to put it in place ... and it hasn't stopped the NHS working hard to ensure they catch as many people who need help as they can.
    Sometimes effort is needed for only a small gain. Sometimes that small gain will grow over the years.

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    Can it make the difference with some families? Yes
    So what is "it" in practice then? Can anyone:

    a) List the essential, achievable, technical features in terms most geeks will immediately understand?

    b) Explain how with supporting evidence "it" will increase "parental engagement"? If nothing else this might help clarify which definition of the latter is in use because it doesn't appear to be mine.

    And if that can't be done with ease then something's rotten in Denmark yet again and I'll just sigh cynically and stick with my "overspun" theory. Everything I've seen so far suggests throwing tech at this is is one big fashionable experimental guess (in a similar way to some of the curriculum tinkering), no one has a well-founded clue about what it will/won't achieve, whether it meets real as opposed to perceived needs and..

    We might have to look and consider whether it is cost effective though
    ..whether the money might have been more constructively spent elsewhere *before* you've spent it.

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    EduTech's Avatar
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    I am going to add to this; although i am by far probably not the most clued up person on this stuff but here goes

    The school in which i am at is not in one of the best area's shall we say, the students do find things tough and alot of them probably come from very bad backgrounds.

    we launched this in Year Group Stages, that we are yet to complete i will add. Started of with Year 11, Then Year 7, Year 10, Year Year 9 and then Year 8

    We sent the details out to the parents via post in 2 stages, the first letter for the username and the second with the password.

    with regards to the situation with the access i.e. it was basically a report from SIMS which the data manager went through and solved all of those problems. I cant comment on how long it took and/or what way he did it as i did not do that but from what i can see it was done properly.

    On a more important level, from speaking with the parents whom came into the school to find out more information or/ because they were having difficaulty loggin in etc they thought it was very good and liked the fact that they could see what there child was doing in school as they were always interested in what they were doing whilst at school as when they got home they did not get much information so therefore could not sort out any problems that could of been arrissing and likewise could not reward there child for doing well.

    Everyone that i have spoken to has seen this as a very good thing, as i said the background in which most of the students come from there parents probably dont give a dam but with this being there they have started to take more of an interest as they have been provided with a source of information that they could not get without going through the hassell of contacting the school and some i'll be honest found that they could never get anywhere with the school and was always waiting. now all they have to do is login to a portal and they get to see information.

    Yes i think this is a small thing, but hopefully this small thing will turn into a big thing and with the implementation of this aswell as other things on the horizen alot of good should come out of it

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    russdev's Avatar
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    Hi

    Thanks for all the replies very useful (I think not sure they are recording the event so will let you know)

    Russell

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    Everyone that i have spoken to has seen this as a very good thing
    People who think otherwise likely wouldn't have come into school for help, but it's a no-brainer really: Schools have control of our kids all week, and given all that "measurement" in modern education, can and should provide better feedback to parents. That alone is obviously a good thing and it should be clear to any sensible geek. Whether it does anything for the political narrative attached to this stuff (the nebulous "parental engagement") is a bit of a distraction IMO.

    --

    Distraction

    I would bet that the die is largely cast at Primary i.e. that is where parental engagement in their children's learning has most effect on long term outcomes and thus that's by far the best place to focus the resources.

    But Primaries of course, tend to have parents/carers milling around playgrounds morning and noon and IME most are reasonably effective at doing this stuff the old fashioned way i.e. by directly listening and talking to people. It's still worthwhile, but will throwing tech there actually add much more than a potentially huge reduction in photocopier expenses and a solution to the "but the note about X wasn't in their bleepin reading folder!" problems?

    Other side of the coin: If some parent is encouraged to develop a new enthusiasm for "engagment" at the Secondary is it actually a bit too late?

    I haven't got a clue. Are there, as there certainly should be (given shortage of public money and so-on), any credible off-the-shelf answers?

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