Communications Committee

NMPS Communications Survey results and recommendations, 30 August 2016

In May 2016 a survey was issued to the North Melbourne Primary School (NMPS) community. The intention of the survey was to gain an understanding of how the school was communicating with the school community and to identity areas for improvement. During the two month period in which the survey was open, 71 responses were received. This is a good result for a survey of this nature whereby there was no incentive for people to participate.

The survey was issued to the school community through notifications on the app tiqbiz and the school newsletter which is distributed via email.

Results noted that there have been improvements in NMPS' approach to communication over the last two years following the introduction of tiqbiz, in particular that:

  • tiqbiz is an effective way of engaging the school community and providing immediate information
  • the fortnightly newsletter is a useful mechanism of providing more detailed information, that doesn't require an immediate call to action.

The survey also noted that there is still scope for improvement, including:

  • timeliness of tiqbiz notifications and the quantity of updates issued in a day
  • increased number of opportunities for parent and teacher engagement and communication - written updates and prospects to meet one-on-one or within a wider forum
  • newsletter format and content - a layout that is easier to read, more strategic content and accuracy of information  
  • enhanced knowledge within the school community on the level of engagement the school offers, i.e. process for responding to enquiries, school's preference for student lead interviews, opportunities to book appointments with teachers
  • communication with parents as their child begins their schooling journey.

The NPMS Communication sub-committee carefully reviewed the survey results, in particular the detailed commentary that was provided to key questions, to prepare six recommendations to the School Council for approval, and subsequent implementation.

These recommendations included:

1.    Newsletter

  • Review and refine the format of the newsletter to enhance understanding of content.
  • Implement mechanisms for a third party review of the newsletter to ensure accuracy of information, ensure views shared are professional and that there are no grammatical or spelling errors.
  • Establish a protocol for the sharing of information via tiqbiz, i.e. frequency of alerts, time prior to an event (2 days prior preferred)  and limiting the number of notifications per day.
  • Undertake an extensive communication campaign at the start of each year (for both new and existing parents) advising how to use tiqbiz, including the development of a Fact Sheet outlining the school's preferred communication methods, frequency in which information is shared and the measures parents need to take to be involved in receiving information.
  • Note: All recommendations relating to tiqbiz, may need to be on hold and modified as the school migrates to the Compass system.
  • Development of a clear protocol for communicating with the school leadership / teachers and parents - detailing who to contact if there is a concern, the timeframe a response can be expected, and where to go if additional information is required.
  • Establishment of an enquiries email (enquiries.nmps@edumail.vic.gov.au) where all school enquiries can be directed, and an establishment of a protocol of how these enquiries are addressed and timeframe responded to.
  • Establish a parent / teacher forum at the start of the new year for each grade, where teachers outline the approach to education for each grade for that year, what parents can expect and how parents can support their child and teacher during the course of the year.
  • Undertake a survey with culturally diverse members of the school community to understand how the school can improve communication within these communities.
  • Establish a buddy system for new families - both with those joining in prep and families new to the school . The system would involve holding morning tea mornings with a small group of parents so they can ask questions of existing parents on what they can expect when their child starts school and sharing contact details should the new parents have additional questions.

2.    tiqbiz

  • Establish a protocol for the sharing of information via tiqbiz, i.e. frequency of alerts, time prior to an event (2 days prior preferred)  and limiting the number of notifications per day.
  • Undertake an extensive communication campaign at the start of each year (for both new and existing parents) advising how to use tiqbiz, including the development of a Fact Sheet outlining the school's preferred communication methods, frequency in which information is shared and the measures parents need to take to be involved in receiving information.
  • Note: All recommendations relating to tiqbiz, may need to be on hold and modified as the school migrates to the Compass system

3.    General communication

  • Development of a clear protocol for communicating with the school leadership / teachers and parents - detailing who to contact if there is a concern, the timeframe a response can be expected, and where to go if additional information is required.
  • Establishment of an enquiries email (enquiries.nmps@edumail.vic.gov.au) where all school enquiries can be directed, and an establishment of a protocol of how these enquiries are addressed and timeframe responded to.

4.    Teacher communication

  • Establish a parent / teacher forum at the start of the new year for each grade, where teachers outline the approach to education for each grade for that year, what parents can expect and how parents can support their child and teacher during the course of the year.

5.    Engaging our culturally diverse community

  • Undertake a survey with culturally diverse members of the school community to understand how the school can improve communication within these communities.

6.    Engaging our with new families

  • Establish a buddy system for new families - both with those joining in prep and families new to the school . The system would involve holding morning tea mornings with a small group of parents so they can ask questions of existing parents on what they can expect when their child starts school and sharing contact details should the new parents have additional questions.

The School Council voted unanimously to support all of six of these recommendations. Discussions however need to be had with Sally and the teachers about the resources that would be required to make recommendations 3 & 4 possible. These are operational matters, not governance related. Sally and the teaching community will report back to the School Council at the next meeting on how these recommendations can be pursued and what resources they may require.

The Communications Sub-Committee would like to thank everyone who participated in the survey, as your feedback will help shape the way in which the school communicates in the future. Thank you.