FrogLearn - Using Frog to Increase Parental Engagement
Posted by , Last modified by on 03 August 2016 02:19 PM
Why is Engagement Important?
Parental engagement is an important part of a schools strategy as it can act as a catalyst for improved student performance and help to provide some ownership of this back into the parent’s hands. A whole school approach can aid in bridging the gap between teachers and parents to help them engage and communicate and consequently allows for parents to better support their child’s educational journey.
Please Note: At the bottom of this article is a shorter summarised bullet point section that the Main Frog contact may wish to show to SLT in order to provide a snapshot of how Frog can help with parental engagement within the school.
Strategies for Success
As with any scheme, strategy or platform within school, without the backing of the senior leadership team the lifespan of your parental engagement scheme may be drastically affected.
Similar to many schemes, strategies or platforms within the school environment, without backing from the senior leadership team the lifespan of the scheme will be drastically affected. Alongside this it can result in only a partial adoption of the plan which will likely fail as time progresses. Even a direct commitment from the headteacher should help on this front.
Crucial to the success of engagement is ensuring effective leadership is in place to manage the process. This could be a senior leader within school or a small team managed by a senior leader who is responsible and accountable for the plans in place and their success. No matter who is responsible it is important to select an individual or team with the qualities, skills and commitment to drive this forward.
The schools message must be made clear from the start of the parental engagement drive. If this is not handled correctly, then some parents will never engage and may be confused by what the school is trying to achieve. A popular method of communicating such changes/drives within school are through a parents evening introduction or assembly. Similarly a web based video provided to parents of new students so they understand the importance of what the school is trying to achieve, from day one can be useful. Emphasising how important their involvement is to parents is an often overlooked first step for increasing engagement.
Working with other schools in the area (or academy group) to share best practices for parental engagement and to discover what has worked well and what has not can help to avoid potential pitfalls. Schools in the same area are likely to experience similar problems and successes so the sharing of ideas can help to propel engagement schemes forward.
Providing training or coaching for any IT systems involved is important both for staff and also parents. Training helps to improve confidence and it will help future proof and parental engagement plans implemented. Without knowledge of how to use a system, usage may quickly tail off and it may be difficult to re-engage the same audience in the future. Providing coaching or drop-in sessions for parents who struggle, simply need a refresher or who want to learn more can help maintain and improve parental engagement.
This is another question of communicating well with parents to prevent confusion and ensure everyone (staff and parents) are working towards the same goal. Ensuring that strategies that work well for parental engagement are formalised and well communicated should help to maintain engagement. If monthly drop in sessions work well for parents allowing them to learn more about how to help their children with their homework, then these should be marketed accordingly and potentially made more mainstream within school.
Parents can become detached for a number of reasons. They may be under-confident, technologically illiterate, or speak English as a second language.These parents could be identified early on and given special focus as it’s possible they will be more difficult to engage with a learning platform, or in general with the school, without this additional assistance. Being able to communicate in a manner that appeals to specific individuals is likely to have more of an impact in getting them involved with the school life of their child.
If parents of a school have provided ideas and input for improvements and changes within any area of school life, and these don’t appear to be acted on (or changes are simply not communicated) then parents are likely to become disinterested. Frog is a good place to start to communicate changes and opinions back to the parents whether this be through the use of an online forum or a face-to-face forum.
Why use Frog for parental engagement?
Using Frog for parental engagement provides the convenience of 24/7 web-based access, which in this age of information will include the majority of parents as computers, tablets and mobile phones have become mainstream.
By providing a convenient means for parents to access up-to-date information about their child’s learning through the use of IT, the school is far more likely to get them involved in their child’s learning. In addition to this, the use of a learning platform provides a more flexible approach for staff to communicate and respond back to parents.
Allowing parents or guardians to view lesson plan sites and any work set for their children along with any feedback; will allow them to support their child more from home. Having one central hub for this data for revision resources, evidence of progress their children have been making and any individualised learning areas should lead to a reduction in staff time having to communicate throughout the school day with parents over the phone. This could also be a method of allowing parents to book appointments with staff members alongside accessing key curriculum information and finding out when after school events are being held.
Student information is kept secure behind a username and password that each school generates for their parents and can alter these at any point upon request. The Frog platform also integrates with all of the popular management information systems and can import attainment, attendance, behaviour and more to display this information in a meaningful way.
How to use Frog for Parental Engagement
There are a number of ways in which you can use the Frog products to engage parents. This section hopes to cover some of these points and provide ideas for schools to implement.
FrogParent is an add-on for FrogLearn to allow SIMS schools to share and display a child's data in a secure and easy to use manner. Primarily this data is for parents but staff and potentially even students can gain access to this data if desired.
FrogParent allows you to see information such as attendance data, behaviour data, attainment and SIMS Linked Documents. The ability to view timetable data and assignments set for students is present in the core FrogLearn product. The ability to view this data allows parents to respond to any concerns they have without having to wait for reports or parents evenings and so can act pro-actively. Access to data on their child’s attendance, behaviour, attainment and homework is of obvious value to parents and guardians. Consequently, parents will be encouraged to take a more active role in their child’s learning journey.
Aside from the FrogParent widgets to display information from SIMS, FrogLearn can be used in a multitude of ways for parents. Adding engaging content to Frog is likely to attract parents to use the learning platform more. Giving some control directly into the hands of teachers to show parents what their children are actually doing in the classroom, is likely to further enhance engagement. A list of examples of how the platform can be used can be found below.
Using Frog you are able to provide help with homework, subject skills and other skills through providing content for parents to watch/read. Consequently parents can then feel more confident about helping their children with homework and will be more encouraged to take an active role. A wise place to start would be with sites containing videos to help parents teach children and learn more themselves.
Within FrogProgress parents will be able to see a breakdown of their children’s progress based on the learning objectives defined for assessment within the current assessment cycle. Parents will be able to easily view and acknowledge that a problem exists due to the breakdown of specific learning objectives so interventions will be acted upon more quickly.
Using sites, parents can gain the knowledge and skills to manage children’s behaviour, and the confidence and empathy to use these skills effectively.
There is an application within FrogLearn called "My Child's Work" that allows parents to view the work that has been set for their children as an assignment; alongside any feedback or marks that have been provided.
There is an additional Frog application that works in conjunction with assignments called "Feedback" where teachers can define success criteria for students to work towards. Once a student has submitted their work teachers can use highlighter tools and stickers through the platform to leave comments based on the criteria set. This is all available to parents to view for their children through the "My Child's Work" application.
It is possible to use the platform for IEA’s/ILP’s. To summarise these are areas for the student to customise and personalise (with suuport from a teacher or member of support staff) along with some information on what they want to be when they are older etc. Alongside this there are parent areas to communicate back to the teacher/support staff and areas where staff can upload evidence of student work for all to see. Alongside this are hidden areas containing information about the student’s goals, strengths, weaknesses and medical notes/SEN statement. These sites would be shared between all staff but only to that one student who the site contains information about.
A site could be constructed for new intake parents with an overview of the school, virtual tour, meet the teacher’s area, and even a blog from the Headteacher.
A list of the lastest newsletters and information on school closures and term dates including a historic archive of previous newsletters.
Information on all school policies. You could add policies on attendance and holidays on the page with the attendance widget, and perhaps add a holiday request form for parents to submit responses to your school.
Information on supporting their child’s learning including downloads, embedded videos, and links to other sites of interest.
Introduce a teacher blog by taking turns for each subject leader to blog about something interesting they are doing with their children. This can help to involve parents without having to ask them what they’re doing at school.
News and booking forms for events to drive parents to the platform in order to reserve a place on a school trip or parents evening for their child.
Allow parents to place an order for school uniform (whilst you can’t pay through Frog, you can place orders or link to an external store).
An area dedicated to communication between members of the parent teacher association.
Allow the platform to act as a forum and a place to ask questions and put forward ideas for the school. It will also act as a place to share concerns and ideas with other parents (keeping this off public social media websites) and can act in creating a strong collaborative community.
Asking for school trip volunteers or communicating school events/after club activities along with information on parents’ evenings can all be done through the use of sites.
Communicating important changes out to parents or asking for parents' interest in becoming governors or other committee members can be easily done using forms and polls through the platform.
Adding forms/questionnaires allows you to obtain feedback from parents without having to spend money and time posting out individual letters asking for responses.
“Think you Know” and other important links and information can be added to an e-safety site in order to help parents understand what is happening in their child’s Social Media and online world.
Extend your library system to parents by providing some information about what’s used around the school.
Information and bookings for extracurricular clubs can be introduced to parents to allow them to book resources onsite at school such as sports halls or tennis courts.
Administrators are able to run a report to see all users who have not logged into the platform. This can then be passed to the person/team responsible for parent engagement to contact individually and address any problems or questions they have.
How to Gauge Success
Being able to use Frog to engage parents is only step one. The important task is then gauging how successful this has been. Not only is it vital to measure this success but also show to parents that you are acting on any feedback/ideas that have been given to the school through any of the means available to them. In order to gauge success schools may wish to do so via any of the below methods:
Parental engagement is an important part of a schools strategy for a variety of reasons. Using Frog, schools are able to bridge the gap between parents and the school in order to help parents engage and communicate effectively. Consequently, this will provide a healthier collaborative environment for parents to better support their child’s educational journey.
SLT Key Points
When presenting ideas to SLT it is advisable to be efficient and raise key points to address areas for interest. For this reason, please find summarised points below for engaging SLT on the importance of using Frog for parents.