3 ways to ensure parents evening is effective

I ran a recent poll on Twitter asking people how they felt about Parents Evnings. of the 134 that voted only 31% said they were effective. Considering teachers spend a considerable amount of time to them I wanted to write this post on how to make the most of them. These are some tried and tested strategies I’ve used a teacher, Head of Department and Senior Leader.

  1. This shouldn’t be the first contact you’ve had with parents

We don’t have a lot of time on Parents Evening and I often feel a considerable amount of it is sometimes taken up with generic questions like ‘How’s [student] doing?’ When actually, especially for exam years the conversation needs to be more in depth. Therefore communication with the parents needs to be more than just parents evening. This may in some schools be through data snapshots but as Head of Department I would always do an assessment 2 months before parents evening for exam years in particular and then send an email/letter to parents with results and 3 things the student could improve and how. Then I would remind them when parents evening was and that I would let them know then if this had happened. It led to more informed conversations and much more focused.

2. Have a handout.

Parents are often coming from a lot of different starting points. Some want to know what they can do to support their young people, some want to know what they should see their child doing at home to improve, some are not concerned with either and quite disengaged. Despite this our role is to help them and keep them informed. Have a little A6 piece of card printed with things the student can do to improve and how the parent can support them. Any key websites that can be used or other resources. In the case when parents don’t know what to say I can talk them through this and ensure we have a constructive conversation.

3. Ensure the student is present.

Where possible ensure the student is present. There is no point talking about progress unless they have bought into it. On occasions that this has not been possible I’ve asked students in the lesson to write 2 things they think they need to improve on and discussed these with the parent so they have felt involved. Made notes on their paper and returned it to the parent and student.

I’m sure there are a dozen other ways to make the most of parents evening but these are three that have worked for the best for me and I hope they help you too.