Parents' evenings could stay virtual beyond Covid pandemic
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School parents' evenings could be set to remain online beyond the coronavirus pandemic following positive feedback for virtual meetings.
The government's education catch-up tsar Sir Kevan Collins told a House of Lords committee last week that video calls were "much better than trying to find a parking space on a wet Tuesday and waiting your turn".
Karl Rourke-Beasley, deputy headteacher at Stowmarket High School, said feedback from parents for the online meetings has been largely positive.
Mr Rourke-Beasley said the virtual meetings provided greater flexibility for parents and teachers, with regard to childcare arrangements, and were "sharp and focused" and did not overrun.
He said initial IT problems with the system used by the school were also ironed out but conceded that virtual appointments "can never be compared to face-to-face meetings".
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Mr Rourke-Beasley said: "In terms of looking forward, we have not yet made a decision with regard whether we will keep an online parent evening format.
"Before making any such decision we would consult with all our key stakeholders.
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"However, that said, feedback from parents has been positive and there are some indications from the parents that we have heard back from that they would like us to keep the online system. Further consultation with staff, parents and students is needed."
Commenting on this newspaper's Facebook page, parents had contrasting views over the online appointments.
Parent Zoe Brand said: "Fab idea! So much calmer and easier."
But Caroline Schug said: "I prefer face-to-face and you get to see their work in school."
Geoff Barton, former headteacher at King Edward VI School in Bury St Edmunds and general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said we could see a mixture of face-to-face and online meetings in the future.
“It would have seemed inconceivable to many of us even a couple of years ago that we would seriously be talking about online parent evenings being a reality," he said.
"Such are the huge steps forward we have made in technology as a direct result of the pandemic.
“Some schools and colleges will still prefer the face-to-face contact they get at a traditional parent evening but, for many, meeting online will be a more convenient way for parents to receive important feedback on their child’s progress and encourage higher levels of engagement in future.”