Website Content Communication with Parents - How Parents Know What Is Happening
In addition to communicating with parents about their daughters' progress, we communicate about what is happening in the school in various ways. We want all our parents to be fully up to date with what is happening (and there is always a lot happening at Bute) so communicate with them in a wide variety of ways.
A bulletin is sent home every Friday by e-mail. This includes a letter from the Head about the previous week's events and also contains details of forthcoming dates and events.
A calendar of dates for the forthcoming term is sent out at the beginning of every term.
Letters giving information about events, trips, charity collections etc are sent out via e- mail to parents as required.
All parents are given a personal login so they can visit the dedicated parents section of our website which contains all sorts of articles, examples of the girls' work, photos and videos from trips and outings, and videos of Music teas and concerts. Also, parents will find details of forthcoming events, the menu for lunches, forms for trips, sign-up sheets for parents' evenings and many other documents which parents may need to access.
There are screens in the atrium which give details of upcoming events and notices. Photos are shown on the screens from recent trips, sport fixtures, and school events.
The curriculum evenings for parents are a means of showing the parents something of the 'how' of teaching as well as the 'what'. Staff from different year groups inform parents about how the curriculum is taught in that year group and suggestions are made about support at home. Parents find these extremely enlightening - one parent said it was like Pandora's box being opened!
Talks to Parents
Staff hold regular talks at the beginning of each academic year to introduce themselves to the parents of that year group and to give a general overview of the year ahead, both is terms of academic content and forthcoming trips as well as in terms of expectations about homework and behaviour. Additional meetings are arrange for parents to hear about residential trips in more detail.
The Head gives talks to parents at different times in the school year, for example for Year 5 parents about boarding and day school applications and Year 2 parents about the transition from Year 2 to Year 3.
Parental Involvement - Communication with Staff and Reporting Progress
The relationship we have with parents is very important to us. We believe that getting this right ensures that all members of the Bute House community - pupils, staff and parents - are confident and happy. We like to achieve a healthy balance with parents so they trust us to know what is best for their daughter at school and we take the time to find out about what is happening at home. Consequently, we encourage communication between parents and staff whether this is face to face, via the phone or e-mail or through the Homework Diary.
Informal Meetings with Staff
There are opportunities for parents to come into school on any day to speak to a teacher, without an appointment if there is an urgent concern, or with an appointment for less urgent discussions. Teachers are available before school from 8.15am but we do ask parents to restrict coming in at this time to emergencies. The reason for this is that the morning is not the best time as staff are getting ready for the day so they are not able to give full attention to the problem in hand. After school appointments mean that the teacher has a little more time to discuss the problem; parents are asked to ring or e-mail during the school day and appointments can be made then.
Homework/ Reading Diary
All girls from Year 3 upwards have a homework diary covering the whole academic year. This contains the Code of Conduct, the Bully Book, timetables, useful notes and reminders and of course details of any homework that is given. Parents can therefore see what has been set and encourage its proper completion. This diary is also used for quick communication between home and school. Parents are asked to sign the homework diary on a weekly basis.
Girls in Reception and Years 1 and 2 have a Reading Diary which operates in much the same way as the Homework Diary. Also, girls in Reception have WOW vouchers in which parents are encouraged to share things their daughters have done at home to promote the link between school and home and to ensure we have a sense of the holistic development of the child.
Additionally, we hold regular open mornings, also at 8.15 am, when parents are invited in for twenty minutes with their daughters to look at a selection of work and to see their work displayed around the classroom. In Reception, special sessions are arranged when parents are invited to come and join in an activity in their daughter's classroom and these are always much enjoyed by parents and girls alike.
There are also, of course, regular formal parents' evenings, when parents speak to their daughter's class and subject teachers for a prearranged time to discuss her progress. These take place in the Autumn and Spring terms and also in the Summer term for girls in Year 5. The Parents’ Evenings are an opportunity for parents to hear detailed feedback on their daughter, including the areas teachers are targeting for development. Talking to parents and ensuring that there is an ongoing dialogue between the school, parents and pupils is key to the success of the girls at Bute House.
In the Autumn Term, two Parents’ Evenings are held for every year group, one near the beginning of the term where the focus is on how the girls have settled into their new year groups or new school and a second later on in the term which focuses on English, Maths and Science.
In the Spring term, another Parents’ Evening is held where parents meet with English, Maths and Science staff as well as teachers of all other subjects to discuss their daughters’ academic progress. This opportunity to discuss the whole curriculum with staff is very important as it gives parents a clear sense of their daughters' development across the curriculum.
In the Summer term, parents of girls in Year 5 attend an additional Parents’ Evening with English, Maths and Science teachers prior to the move into Year 6 as this gives staff the opportunity to talk to parents about how the girls have responded to the exam style papers they will be expected to complete in their 11+ examinations.
Parents also receive a written report on every subject at the end of the Summer term. This report details the girl's individual progress, strengths, areas of challenge and recommendations for targets on which she should concentrate.
Meeting the Head
The Head is always happy to see parents either by appointment or for a brief chat if she is free. She has an Open Door policy and communication with parents is key to a successful school. The Head firmly believes that sharing a concern is always the best approach as this means that we can you can receive help, guidance and support from experienced staff who know the girls very well. We discourage chatting to other parents about academic matters as sometimes this leads to confusion since the issues are different for each and every girl. The teachers are always happy to meet with parents and that is the first person a parent should approach about a concern, however minor, but a discussion with the Head can also be arranged.
The Head and Deputies are also at the door in the mornings to welcome the girls into school so a quick word then is also possible.
The Head also holds regular 'Open House' sessions where parents can make a ten minute appointment to discuss any aspect of school life and make suggestions for the school to consider as well as share positive feedback about the school.
In the Autumn term of Year 6, the Head meets with all Year 6 parents to discuss future schools. Usually one meeting is enough, but this can be an anxious time for parents so the Head makes herself as available as possible for Year 6 parents throughout the whole 11+ examination period, all the way through to the results of the 11+ in February.