In this new series we’ve called ‘School in the fast lane’, Blippit Social’s John Bidder talks about the reality for schools of being in the fast lane & having the mindset/tools to engage with parents through social media.
One of the major criticisms of social media is that it’s disconnecting us, as individuals, from society and from real physical interactions.
But if a key element of ‘tribe’ is communication and connectivity then the digital world arguably holds unlimited bounds for tribes.
If the internet has heralded the death of distance, what do these new kind of tribes look like? And do we relate to each other in different ways now that so much of our lives are lived online?
Tribe: Listen to the broadcast (30 mins)
In this episode of The Digital Human (BBC Radio 4.), Aleks Krotoski asks if rather than separating us, the digital world is helping us revive old tribal connections. It’s a fascinating way to look at schools and their parental communities for many reasons so do have a listen.
Book a place for this March & April 2017 at one of our face-to-face school-based afternoon workshops and amongst the latest good practice for schools, you’ll learn what hundreds of parents had to say about what it’s like to have children at a school where social media is proactively used.
These are unique insights that we’ve turned into actions that you can take away and use in your own setting.
We’ll not just be sharing this unique parental insight with you. As part of the workshop you’ll get the latest good practice for boosting meaningful engagement and advice on Facebook’s new focus on ‘video’.
It’ll be fun (yes that’s allowed) and we’re also going to introduce you to some new apps that’ll reinvigorate your timelines too!
All School Based
Online booking is now open for 4 Bolton school venues. More dates will follow in other areas too. These are half-day sessions that include resources and refreshments for £69 +vat Existing schools who have our Blippit Social service already can choose the free ticket option 🙂
If, in the name of science, you want to cause stress in the life of primary school parents there’s one sure fire way to do it. Just change what the children have to wear in school on one day and then stand well back.
To amplify the effect, the following would be recommended for consideration:
be slightly unclear about the date for this variation in uniform
pick a time when parents are already emotionally roller-coastering along on their own journey towards a critical event over which they have little control
e.g. religious festivals, transitions across key stage or school, national charity events like Sports or Comic relief
include the information at the foot of a newsletter as part of a much longer list
also, use Comic Sans pt size 10 or another any off-beat font to dissuade reading
if asked, tell parents you told them already in this month’s newsletter, text, radio broadcast or personal address by the Head
this reinforces their sense of powerlessness to control even the most trivial variations in their life
forget that parents are only half-listening anyway
What was that last one again?
In short, for ‘pre-stressed parents’, finding a Christmas sweater for their child has the potential to festively and royally de-rail their normally stable emotional centre.
How can a sweater have such an effect?
Well along with applying one or more of the above top 5 tips, it’s probably worth stepping back a bit and looking at these two graphs about why people think they were bullied in 2016. Take a look at the top reason.
Schools are so nurturing, so accommodating and probably unlike any other setting a child will ever experience, aside from their own family unit, when it comes to putting their needs first. Schools with the best intentions may quietly tell a parent;
“It doesn’t matter really – just something red would be fine!” or, “Just send them in with their usual one on and we can put some tinsel on it for them.”
In reality, most parents, having once been in primary school themselves, don’t hear these kind offers as intended. They want their child to ‘fit’ or if they’re going to stand out it’ll be for having the most awesome sweater ever made. Back in the day when primary parents were in school it is very possible that the top reason people thought they got bullied was no different to the 2016 survey. Judging by appearance in today’s society has arguably never been more shamelessly normalised by popular media and at some time probably everyone has been guilty of doing it. Even us perfect people.
The instinct to protect offspring is hard coded and seemingly trivial things like Christmas Sweater day can be a trigger for this instinct to kick in. People act out of character.
Should this kind of thing be kept out of school?
It’s a difficult question to answer but perhaps, in amongst everything else that school leaders and teachers bear in mind every second of every day for every child, by stepping back a bit and seeing where parents are journeying from and to we’ll all have an even more wonderful <insert religious festival or special event name here> time.
As part of our managed and monitored social media service for schools (Blippit Social) we recently ran a fast turnaround ‘end of term’ survey for Lammack Primary School’s Head Teacher, Mrs Paula Duckworth.
We asked Paula to comment on the experience of using Facebook to survey parents as part of the school’s ongoing Blippit Social service.
We are so busy but we didn’t need to worry about sorting the survey – it just happened!
Surveying parents is no small task and with time being so short the challenge was how to do it in a way that may also get a wider range of parents responding.
Lammack agreed to our suggestions that they could
do it in Facebook – familiar environment, save some trees
include a random prize draw
With the survey built we then put measures in place to sanity check the Facebook community responses to ensure that
participants were actually parents/family
it was easy for parents to accurately and quickly respond
Questions were a mix of 1-5 range type (examples below) and free comment areas.
Once signed off by school we looked back at previous months’ parental engagement data (included in Blippit Social) to see when parents would be most likely to respond. We then scheduled a Facebook Update to go on to the school Page at a specific time on a specific day when we knew, based upon our historic data, that parents would be more likely to engage.
[well type=””] On average each participant spent 4mins 14secs completing this Parental Questionnaire – which is quite quick when you see the mobile/desktop split of respondents (above) [/well]
We’ve a strong feeling that it’s because the survey was actually within Facebook that parents commented more freely and naturally than they might otherwise do. The comments were only seen by school. We need to do many more surveys to establish this for sure but the signs were there based on responses.
Only the school could see the responses coming in as they happened. We got the results in Microsoft Excel as well as ‘pretty’ PDF documents to share with SLT and Governors which will save me time.
We’ll do more surveys for Heads through the Blippit Social service because we know just how hard it is to fit in doing them efficiently and effectively.
We’ll be doing hashtag surveys next which are really lightweight, fast and dare we say ‘exciting’?
Fancy trying this approach like Lammack Primary? Just get in touch with us at Blippit.
We’ve emailed you already with special rates as a thank you for sticking with us from the beginning. If you’ve not received an email from us just contact firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll put that right.
This week I went on to BBC Breakfast’s famous red couch for Blippit Social. I was lucky enough to be invited on to the programme to comment and advise on the use of social media by schools and attitudes of parents to the subject more widely.
The Inflame Game
The context for the piece was the question of whether or not a primary head teacher of a school had done the right thing by sending home a letter essentially telling them not to let their children go on Facebook, they were too young etc.
When Bill Turnbull (my mum’s favourite presenter second only to Michael Palin) asked whether the school had done the right thing I essentially said yes – for that school it was the right thing. Saying anything else would have been wrong and only inflamed the story. Not knowing or understanding the school’s context and history only the Head himself could say, on reflection, anything else. Every school is different and that includes it’s community; having worked with as many schools as we have over the years there’s no doubt about that. We do know now that done right, even Ofsted inspectors see huge value in our parental engagement approach.
Viewers’ comments on the BBC Breakfast programme Facebook thread on the day show that there is no one single view when it comes down to it. Parents do share the same essential views on safety but not necessarily the same view on what should be done and how to ensure it. Check the comments out to see what I mean.
It’s pointless to make it into a blame game
It’s a fruitless route to play the blame game in my opinion. We’re all old and wise enough to know
It’s not Mark Zuckerberg’s fault
it’s not the parent’s fault
it’s not the children’s fault
it’s certainly not the Head Teachers’ fault
It’s just where we’re at in our evolution; ‘learning’ how to use tools for which there are no real rules; only arbitrary age limits and everyone’s common sense.
The End Game?
What options are there then for young people, parents, teachers and companies on the best use of social media platforms linked to education?
raise age limits for access?
increase reporting tools to expedite action?
boycott social platforms?
boycott technology like phones, tablets etc?
enforce tough technology filters for home access?
enforce and introduce new legislation?
or support, educate and make users part of the solution?
And finally. Of course being a very British thing to do I landed lots of stick for being spotted on the TV so if you can’t beat them, join them.
We find certain data that we gather (and the pretty graphs it can result in) quite interesting because it helps schools answer questions and see the patterns more quickly in the intricate field of parental engagement using Facebook.
Topics of conversation
Topics are derived from conversations that friends, fans, followers and connections are having. The two graphs here represent – top level general discussion topics categories and more specific sub categories. It’s just the tip of the iceberg and we can’t wait to dig deeper to help schools understand the impact of their engagement with parents.
Below I’ve only focused upon ‘topics & more detailed sub-topics of conversation’ across our schools. If you take a look at the graphs below we’ve created by sampling across schools we support it seems not unreasonable to say that things don’t look too bad! Have a peruse. You may feel that more information is needed to infer a degree of success on the schools’ behalf in engaging with parents and I’d probably agree.
Next week I’ll be talking about how we’re now able to more confidently support Heads demonstrate and evidence impact brought about by engaging positively with parents on Facebook. Of course data is only ever just a part of the picture like with anything, but it’s one that we believe is important.
This term we’ll be looking at different strands that open up the parental engagement picture a little to help us draw conclusions about, for example,
whether people are on or off topic & if not why not
how ‘life’ influences engagement levels
At our Blippit Social CPD event next week, “The Positive Head Teacher’s Guide to Parents & Social Media”, we’re filming the whole thing so at some point that’ll get released for general consumption here on the blog and more on the data conversation will appear then. In the meantime I hope you might find the graphs below interesting at the very least.