We’ve collaborated with many schools over the last 15 years or so and it’s obvious but I’ll say it anyway: Every single one, unsurprisingly, wants to be the very best that it can be for the children and families in their community regardless of size, budget, town, borough, county, country or continent.
By way of introduction, my story is unremarkable & feel free to skip it but sometimes I find it’s useful to know why someone would leave a good job to start up a new company whose mission is simply to ‘remove barriers for parents and children’.
- I was a primary teacher/IT coord who, by some quirk of nature, enjoyed finding out how stuff worked. My school received the only ‘very good’ Ofsted for IT in Bolton – literally.
- A job came up with the local authority who’d been told by Ofsted to sort out IT (as it was called then). Not knowing what I was doing I applied & got the job.
- Skip forward working with hundreds of schools in Bolton and beyond, speaking, training, publishing, winning BETT Awards, discovering the currency of collaboration etc.
- Skip forward with school websites, photo policies, getting my own kids, QCA, NOF, eLC’s, online shop, Year 3 email, VLE’s, learning platforms & BSF.
- Skip past the chapter where as Primary Strategy Manager I had to restructure ICT & Literacy and Numeracy teams; Buys new flash car, mid-life crisis – tick.
- Skip forward to a new Director of Children’s Services who tasks me with helping them improve Corporate communicate with Schools. Quick job.
- Skip past new corporate intranet design, stakeholder groups, mail management, Heads groups, strategy, Families Information Service restructure, Learning Platform Team restructure etc.
- Pause: Realisation that everything we have ever done has not really engaged one of our major stakeholders – parents. *shame*
- Restart: People nervous & risk averse; not keen or able to take on new ideas as Dark distant clouds gathered for likely cuts. I seize the opportunity to pro-actively tackle the parent engagement issue when the time is right
- Skip forward to the very first early wave of VR offers & me deciding to leap & pursue the dream.
That was over 3 years ago & now I’d like to share some things I’ve learned to be true (some obvious) as a Dad of three and founder of a company working with schools firmly in the 21st century communications mindset
- parents want schools to succeed
- the biggest monsters are usually in people’s heads
- supportive management, leadership and monitoring works
- many people don’t know what they don’t know – talking helps
- schools need to be where the parents are not the other way round
My next guest post will include a fabulous talk from the very first head teacher we worked with using Facebook with Parents.
John at SSM |