Mary-Jo Hill

05 Oct 2022
Autumn 1. What are we learning? With the whole shake up, post Covid, this term could be the greatest one of the year. But how to dial up, when we have had two years of dialling down?

Ofsted are circling. The Covid hangover remains. The Winter is looking grim.

These challenges are relentless. How will headteachers manage to ramp up the learning and accountability and really push forward on closing the gaps which are there, and widening. The majority of headteachers are overwhelmed still, on day to day management. and feeling sharply the impact of all pupils missing out on the social and emotional development of the Covid Lockdowns- let alone the skills and knowledge and learning that was missed.

The greatest challenge

The greatest challenge is always thinking about everyone, How is that carved out with the leadership team? The temptation is to continually firefight- (yes, overwhelming) but who is tasked with the oversight of all of those pupils, parents and staff that you had assumed once were okay .. and are now probably not.


The greatest triangulation for learning and pupil outcomes are parents. How honestly are you engaging with your parental community for best outcomes for all ? As a mother of three, in three different schools, the picture is extremely varied.

Let’s be honest

I wonder how many of your teachers would be honest enough to admit that they actually avoid parents.

This is because engaging with other adults takes a number of skills. These skills are rarely explicitly taught to new teachers. ‘How to engage with parents- a beginner’s teacher guide’ could be a stocking filler sell-out this Christmas.

The reason that so many schools continue with on-line parent 5 minutes slots, is because parents prefer it? Or is it all about convenience, and convenience for whom? I have to strive hard as a parent to make the most of those 5 minutes- and god forbid- if you are on a school run or coming home at the allocated time slot. What does really happen when parents miss it or if you can’t hear the teacher?

On-line parent consultations really working for whom?

A thorny issue to work out the cost-benefit analysis on this one. Staff possibly happier but slightly disgruntled as we establish that spending 5 mins (realistically 3) is going to have an impact?

Relief possibly: I have personally done my time in many many years of parent ‘in the flesh’ and recuperation is necessary, whatever helps one de-stress after a 3 hour marathon sprint-is a real thing..

but what is the real gain and purpose of all of this?

Selfish or selfless interaction?

This is the real deal. How much interaction with parents is because you know the true benefit of triangulation? The rising and continuous parental complaints are a real deal. I know of too few Headteachers that find this is a source of sleepless nights and too much ‘day time’ noise. How do we mitigate this? What is the real added benefit for being able to manage parents engagement in a more actively managed approach?

Comms, comms, comms

The need to revise your school or Trust communications strategy and policy for all stakeholders is a necessity within schools like we have never encountered before. We can barely compete with the tech. According to the Education Endowment Foundation- parental engagement has a positive impact on average of 4 months’ additional progress. It is crucial to consider how to engage with all parents to avoid widening attainment gaps. As already noted, relentless. Half-term is beckoning!