Over this last couple of months in particular, the levels of engagement between parents and the schools we support have rocketed via Facebook. We began to get a clear indication on our social barometer that things have been heating up along with the weather since June and let’s just be clear; heating up in a good way.
It seems everyone has a to-do list of biblical length at this time of year. When you’re able to interact with parents via Facebook at the relative drop of a hat it takes a high level of emotional intelligence from a Head to weigh up the landscape before updating on something that may wobble end of term families – you know, the straw that may break the camel’s back?
So when things REALLY heat up after a parent shares a lovely letter that school has sent home with SATS results (yes that letter inspired by Kimberly Hurd) it’s a real test of any school’s steel to keep control of the message and not let the meaning become skewed in the glare of the attention that comes with going viral.
Barrowford School have been in a hurricane force media mash up this week that has been full of firsts. I’m pretty sure that Rachel and Amy haven’t probably had any professional media training to help them deal with ‘live’ news interviews via satellite, telephone interviews with radio celeb DJ’s like Vaness Feltz & R4’s Woman’s hour; yet unsurprisingly they excelled even when ITV tried to begin to plant a negative seed.
As the media amplified the story it circled the globe reaching arguably millions of people who almost without exception were inspired and invigorated by the letter.
However there are always, and this is a scientific name, nutters. These people come from a dark place and share a lens on the world that you probably wouldn’t wish on anyone. It seems that it’s their job to de-rail and distract from the core message. It’s now, when these people surface with ill formed views, that the school gets the opportunity to see
- it’s own parental community demonstrate their emotional intelligence as a collective
- whether it’s (brand) values have been shared and accepted by the parent community
For Barrowford School, in my opinion, they had no need to worry about their parental community who have been nurtured for a number of years by the school’s “rounded and grounded” approach to, well, pretty much everything! After all it was a member of their community who inadvertently triggered the viral spread of the letter on Facebook. So, when a couple of people came along who hadn’t reckoned on the core beliefs of the school community being quite so solid it was really quite special to see those people neutralised in pretty short order by that same community while showing real composure, I think, stemming from their belief and faith in the school.
Barrowford were the second school we ever worked with on how to harness Facebook and I’m glad to say we still do to this day. I wouldn’t have missed this week for the world as I’m sure the world wouldn’t have missed their story for anything else either – not even a cabinet re-shuffle seeing Mr Gove exit stage door right.
By coincidence this week I had the pleasure of seeing published my ’10 top tips’ for schools using social media for parental engagement via The Guardian which I wrote last week alongside another article taking in a wider view of the topic by Lucy Ward.