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Home - School Communication

About Us
Waihi Schools Cluster is comprised of 6 small/medium, rural/semi-rural schools in the Waikato region. There are approximately 40 teachers within the cluster. There is a very wide range of skills and confidence levels.
- our VLN
- our wiki

What We Wanted to Do
Share collaborative resources, skills and expertise between schools, families and the Waihi community. Improve home-school communication and the school community’s understanding of the educational contribution of e-learning.

Why We Wanted to Do It:
Schools had identified home-school communication as an area that they wished to improve. A parent survey undertaken in 2010 showed a poor community understanding of the educational contribution of e-learning.

What We Knew:
Schools used the ICT PD Cluster Self-Assessment Rubric to get an understanding of where they were at in regards to the school community’s understanding of the educational contribution of e-learning. In 2010 the majority of cluster schools considered they were aware of the importance of informing the school community about the impact of ICT in learning. They had not, however,  reviewed their current systems or identified strategies to inform the community.

Observational and survey data indicated that many parents were unaware of school websites, wikis and blogs or if they were aware they weren’t visiting them. Parents also indicated they generally had a poor understanding of the educational contribution of e-learning.

What We Did:
The ICT PD Cluster Self-Assessment Rubric proved to be very useful in helping teachers and schools to identify areas of concern and then work on their next steps. The first step was reviewing current systems which was done at staff meetings. Parents were surveyed and although the response was disappointing in most schools, there was some useful information and suggestions gained.

Schools explored ways that Home-School communication could be improved and that the school community could be informed on the educational benefits of e-learning. Strategies were then developed and implementation began.

Some interventions included:

  • Parent meetings i although poorly attended it was felt these were valuable for those parent that did attend.
  • Information and class wiki addresses were put in newsletters eg. http://prntscr.com/47ocf
  • Revision of school internet user agreements and classroom guidelines around online safety. These were shared and discussed with parents. Many parents indicated in the initial survey that their knowledge in this area was poor.
  • Making computers available for parents at school. Around 85% of parents indicated they had internet at home and most of these had broadband. A further 5% could easily access the internet elsewhere. This initiative catered for the small number without easy access.
  • Using assemblies to show parents work that has been done with the support of ICTs. E.g. Waihi Central movie crews present ‘The Week That Was’ at fortnightly Celebration Assemblies.  Also at these assemblies a segment called Feature the Wiki, where one class each assembly shares their class wiki, with some of the latest ‘things’ they have on it or are currently doing.
  • Students with content on their class wikis/websites/blogs showed their parents during student led conferences
  • Cluster Matariki wiki links shared with parents vis school newsletters and websites.
  • Presentations made to BoTs on the educational contribution of e-learning.

What Happened as a Result:
In 2011, according to the ICTPD self-assessment rubric,  the majority of cluster schools felt they had reviewed their present systems and identified a number of strategies which they would implement to inform the community. or had gone further and were taking some opportunities to inform the community about the impact of ICT in learning.

When parents were surveyed again in 2011, a greater number were aware of school wikis/websites and blogs - around 80% compared to just 40% in 2011. Of those who were aware of the sites, over 90% had visited the school site at least once in the previous 6 months. Around 20% were regular visitors ( at least once a fortnight).

Some parent comments on school websites/wikis and blogs can be seen here; http://wiredwaihi.wikispaces.com/Goal+4

What Are Our Next Steps?
This is an ongoing process, the issue was identified in December 2010 so schools have only been working on this for less than a year. Schools have identified the steps they need to take (interventions mentioned above) and are working to implement these. This will continue in 2012.

Schools will also explore use of social media.  Approximately 60% of parents indicated that they used Facebook and Google+. Waihi East are already trialling use of a Facebook page for parent communication. Some parent comments:
“I go to fb if i want to know about activities and other events that are happening.”
“i check fb updates not wiki”