COMMUNICATION LINKS ARE VITAL

Communication links between home and school are vital, particularly in this day and age. Reassurance about safety and security are essential.

COMMUNICATION LINKS ARE VITAL

Safety and security for children is a matter that constantly occupies the minds of parents and school staff. Concern about their children during the school day sits in the subconscious thinking of parents. This is especially the case for younger children, although worry about older students is very real.

Circumstances in which we live, have brought issues of safety and security into sharp focus for parents and schools alike. When at school, children are deemed to be ‘loco parents’ in the care of principal and school staff.

Schools are careful to develop policies confirming that well-being for children is front and centre when it comes to duty of care issues. These policies, shaped by Department of Education expectations, are tailored to meet the needs of school communities.

When children are enrolled, a great deal of personal information is sought and added to individual student profiles. This is to provide school staff with information they may need should emergency situations arise. It is critically important that contact details for parents and primary caregivers are up-to-date. If not, contact in the case of accident or illness may be delayed. Injured or unwell children are not helped if office staff are not able to contact parents. Current phone numbers are important. So too are email and SMS details if schools employ these tools of communication.

Some schools have established e-mail data bases, and SMS messaging systems enabling them to reach all registered parents in the case of major issues. Many of our schools are in cyclone prone areas. A multiple e-mail generated to many parents at once provides instant information about current weather situations.

Email and SMS links let parents know if and when school is going to resume after a weather event. Messaging can also confirm pupil free days for staff professional development purposes. If the school is planning special events, brief messages can reinforce information that may have been converted in newsletters or placed on school websites. Reminders about tests and examination days can be provided throughout email and SMS updating.

The importance of being able to make urgent contact with parents was reinforced last week, when bomb scares forced the evacuation of four NT schools. Bulk message options reassured parents who checked their devices that children were in safe hands.

While sending reassuring and informing messages is important, they have to be opened and read. For parents who do not have this contact option, a current phone number is essential. It also helps if children, no matter how young, know and can recite their parents phone numbers and home address.

Phone, email and SMS options ought not replace newsletters, websites and physical notice boards. Their purpose is to facilitate urgent communication. Reliable and accurate links between home and school need to be established and maintained.

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