This blog is brought to you courtesy of Chloe Campbell-Hamilton, who has joined the H&H team for a few weeks to get a feel for what it’s like to work in a fast-paced, exciting office environment.
Most us can remember our school days (however good or bad). But what about your teachers?
Everyone knows that a great teacher can help determine the academic success of a child. They are a crucial part of the education system – but what if their success is limited because of poor internal communication?
The importance of good internal communications in schools when it comes to teacher and student engagement is often overlooked. But having a solid internal comms strategy and system is just as crucial here as it is in any other organisation.
The Butterfly Effect
The level of engagement that students have with their work, and how they behave inside the classroom, often largely stems from the incentive of good exam grades and the inspiration and guidance of a good teacher. But how can teachers truly support and provide guidance if there isn’t a clear and consistent plan to enact and follow?
An Ofsted survey reported that the most common issue regarding schools inspected sine January 2014 was the ‘lack of consistency in setting, and insisting on, high standards of behaviour’. Senior management must communicate clearly, consistently and effectively, or we can’t expect teachers to be properly clued up on how they can fully inspire and encourage their students to achieve their best.
Consequently, students become disengaged and no longer perform to their full potential. It’s a good example of the Butterfly Effect – where small things can have big repercussions.
Internal comms gone away
As a recent school leaver, myself, I can vouch for the lack of communication that often occurs within a school environment. During my final year, I gained the much-coveted role of Head Girl. However, it wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows!
When plans for organising open days and parents’ evenings weren’t received on time, Senior Prefects began running wild and the possibility of gaining new prospective students was on the line.
Although I loved my experience as Head Girl, and these difficulties certainly helped me improve my leadership skills, I couldn’t help but think that if this is my experience as a Head of a student body, how could I improve these issues for the next Head Girl?
But more importantly, this experience proved to me how critical internal communication and student engagement really is.
A third party?
But what about communication outside the classroom, between senior management and parents?
While not strictly internal, parents are more involved in their children’s education than ever before. And a report by the Centre for Public Education found that parental engagement in education helps students to build their social skills and also achieve higher grades.
A pretty good reason to get parents more involved in the communication process!
However, the Ofsted survey we mentioned earlier also found that ‘teachers indicated that senior leaders were ineffective in engaging with parents and were too isolated from the realities of day-to-day life in the classroom’. So there’s a clear communication – and on top of that, leadership presence – issue here which is negatively impacting students’ capabilities.
As well as providing a source of consistent communication, senior management must be visible too. Engaged in what’s happening within the organisation, and connected to all their stakeholders – whether they be students, teachers, or parents. A clear and effective process of communication between senior management and parents would encourage parental engagement to flourish, in turn benefitting students.
In regards to communications between management, teachers and parents, there’s clearly plenty of room for improvement. Singling out internal comms and engagement won’t fix all the problems, but by changing how we communicate within educational organisations, we can make a significant difference.
So what could be done to improve internal comms and engagement in schools?
Senior managers need to develop effective internal comms policies
Clearly communicating and sharing a step-by-step plan with all staff members helps establish a secure flow of communication and guides everyone in the same direction.
Schools should employ an internal comms coordinator, to ensure IC is consistently managed
This would ensure that it’s not overlooked, and would give employees someone to turn to if they have any concerns regarding communication issues.
Take advantage of technology
With all the advances in digital technology, there’s more means at our disposal to connect and communicate with employees than ever before. A great example in schools is electronic billboards – these are commonly used to keep staff, teachers and students up-to-speed in today’s schools. An excellent example of internal communications in practice!
Encourage feedback on the communications process
This could involve interviewing a range of students across different years to establish how effective they feel the communication at their school is. The same could also be done with members of staff from multiple departments to easily gain first-hand insights into the opinions of key stakeholders from across the entire school. Critical feedback could also be incorporated, such as cross-teacher observation sessions – to see how well the internal comms are sticking in and enhancing day-to-day activities.
Use the right communication channels
With so many channels at the communicator’s disposal, it’s important to choose the right channels for the message being conveyed. For example, a school social media account could be set up, and/or physical or digital newsletters could be distributed. Using a range of ambient media channels to connect parents, students and staff would help to create a unified school environment of which everyone feels a part.
Ultimately, by improving internal comms between managers, students and parents in schools, we can cultivate a learning environment which would truly benefit everyone, but students most of all. Meaning that when they do enter the world of work – they’ll be better schooled to perform to their true potential.
Looking to get your employees invested in your organisation’s messages?
We create integrated internal comms campaigns that put your employees at the heart of the story – building engagement and commitment that lasts. Drop us a line today to find out what we can do for you!
Got a brilliant idea you simply can’t keep to yourself?
We’re always looking for fresh faces to help us further the IC conversation by writing guest articles for our blog. If you want to make your voice heard on internal comms, employee engagement, change management or leadership development, we’d love it if you got in touch!
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