2017 has been an incredibly busy and fulfilling year, where we have expanded the opportunities for championing parents and giving them a voice in education. By attending events, organising conferences, meeting with policymakers, getting the parent perspective out on key issues through the media or producing useful content for parents on our website, 2017 has seen us build on previous years, achieve a few firsts and promote our aims and values to a much wider audience.
General Election infographics
Education was a hot topic, especially on the issue of school funding, in the run-up to General Election 2017. To help parents stay informed, we released our position on school funding as well as an infographic on what the three main parties were pledging for education in their manifestos. The content was valued and widely shared on social media. It was the first time we have provided such political information.
We have kept parents informed about new developments changes to policy by greatly expanding the information available on our website. We have written and published twelve weekly updates of education news for England, Wales and Northern Ireland, and paid close attention to the activities of the Education Committee in Westminster, summarising half a dozen of their evidence sessions for our parent readership.
Titanic Belfast conference
'Maximising the Impact of Your PTA' took place on Saturday 11th November 2017 and hosted over 100 delegates who heard from experts in Education, Community, Governance and Parental Engagement. The day was judged a great success by joint organisers Jayne Thompson (PTA NI) and Karen Hamilton (Titanic Belfast), who were proud to support the event due to its passion for outreach and learning.
In Wales we supported parents to liaise with Estyn to help inform a review of effective school and parent communication and engagement that Welsh Government had asked them to complete. In addition to signposting parents to their online survey via our social media, e-newsletters and webpages, we held one-to-one parent interviews and focus groups to enhance the evidence collection and give parents the opportunity to enable their voice to be heard directly with key stakeholders. The full report will be published in the New Year and the views of parents will help Estyn to understand current practice and shape future policy.
BBC Breakfast appearance
We were able speak for parents to our widest audience when Acting CEO Michelle Doyle Wildman appeared as a guest on the famous red sofa answering questions from Naga Munchetty and Charlie Stayt about the school funding findings of our annual Parent Survey. We also spoke to regional BBC radio stations and saw the story picked up by national (including the Daily Mail and the Sun) as well as over one hundred and fifty regional news outlets, but the dedicated television slot has proved our highest-profile media slot to date.
Increased media profile
On top of the school funding story, we have been quoted in, or written for, the Times Educational Supplement (tes), Primary Times, Primary PTA and others. This has helped to increase the profile of the organisation among the wider public.
We have coordinated two surveys – our Annual parent survey (conducted by Research Now) and a teacher survey (in collaboration with NFER). We are releasing the findings of our Parent Survey in stages, but it has been the second one of this scale, with over 1,500 parents taking part across England, Wales and Northern Ireland. The large sample provided a credible and unique view of what parents truly think about their child’s school and education. The teacher survey, co-ordinated through NFER, shed light on what teachers think about the benefits of parental engagement.
Joint guidance & Festival of Education
We collaborated with ASCL and NAHT on How to build effective home-school partnerships. The document was written for both schools and parents, providing ideas from all organisations on developing strategies for promoting parental engagement in schools. We launched this at the Festival of Education with a standing room only panel discussion on parental engagement with Dr. Janet Goodall and representatives from ASCL & NAHT.
Speaking at events
We were able to share the message on the importance of engaging parents in education through a number of speaking opportunities across England, Wales and Northern Ireland this year. In February we took some of our PTA members along to the APPG on Governance & Leadership in Westminster to talk about how school funding impacted on parents and PTAs with politicians and Stakeholders. Michelle Doyle Wildman, our acting CEO also spoke at the Head Master’s Conference in May on parent engagement, at the Inspiring Governance seminar in September on School Funding, and on the ICSA Academies Governance conference on parent voice in school accountability. In Northern Ireland, our programs manager Jayne Thompson, spoke at the ASCL conference in November.
We have researched and written short guides on a range of educational topics in our ever-expanding Understanding Education section. These overviews are written with parents in mind, giving them all the pertinent information on particular subjects so they can stay on top of their child’s school life and feel empowered to make informed decisions.
We sent seven issues of our Parent eBulletin, keeping subscribers informed about the latest education news. Sign-up number have more than doubled this year, standing at over 5,800 at the end of 2017. Open rates and engagement have continued to be high.
We wish you a wonderful festive season ahead and every success in 2018.