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Parent / School Communication in Four Masters National School

Introductory Statement:
This policy was developed by the staff of Four Masters National School in consultation with the Board of Management during the first term of 2010/2011 school year.  It merely put on paper what was already happening in the school. Its purpose is to provide information and guidelines to parents and teachers on parent teacher meetings and parent/teacher communication in Four Masters National School.  We believe that the family and home are central to the development of the child and the nurturing of Christian values.  The school and the family strive to be mutually supportive and respectful of each other so that the child’s education can be effective.

Rationale:
 To develop close links between the parents and the school.
 So that parents can collaborate with the school in developing the full potential of their children.
 So that they can share the responsibility of seeing that the school remains true to its ethos values.
 To encourage parents to become actively involved in the school.
 To be in line with the Education act 1998 and Education Welfare Act 2000.

Relationship to characteristic spirit of the school:
Four Masters National School seeks to enable each child to develop his/her potential in a caring environment where the talents of each child are valued.  This work can best be done where there is a high level of openness and co-operation between staff, parents and pupils.

Aims:
 To build a school community committed to supporting all its pupils.
 To establish procedures for the sharing of information in relation to pupil progress and attainment.
 To enrich and extend the educational opportunities provided for pupils by accessing the skills and talents of parents.

Structures in place to facilitate open communication and consultation with parents:
 Meeting for parents of new Junior Infants in June (open day) and September each year.
 Parent/ teacher meetings, one-to-one, usually in November or January.
 Parents receive written school report on each pupil at the end of each school year.
 Regular meetings with parents whose children have special needs.
 Consultation throughout the year.
 Written communication – newsletter every month and other letters when necessary.
 Through the Board of Management and Parent Association, parents are invited to discuss and contribute to the drafting and review of school policies.  Decisions taken to change current policies and procedures or to introduce new ones will be made known to all parents in written format via the school newsletter.
 Monthly newsletters keep parents up-to-date with school events, holidays and school concerns.
 Homework diary, First – Sixth class is used to relay messages which are signed between parents and teachers.
 Parents are invited to Book Fairs, school concerts, garden events etc.
 Involvement of parents in the ‘Religion Alive O Programme’ and in preparation of pupils for the sacraments.
 Participating in paired reading project from time to time.
 Parents, who have expertise in particular areas relevant to the Primary School Curriculum, are invited in to talk to children in specific classes from time to time.

It is vital that the school is immediately informed if family events/situations occur that cause anxiety to your child and therefore may adversely affect his/her education.

Parental Status and Access to School Communications:
All married parents, whether separated or not, are automatic guardians of their children.  Guardianship means the right to make decisions concerning the upbringing and welfare of the child as well as having a duty to ensure that the child is properly maintained and cared for.  When parents are unmarried, the natural mother only has automatic right of guardianship.  The natural father, when unmarried, must apply to the court to seek an order granting him guardianship if he wishes to be the legal guardian of his child.

In all matters pertaining to the well being and education of pupils, only the parents/legal guardians named on the enrolment form will be consulted by the teachers.

Parent/ teacher meetings:
The aim of Parent/Teacher meetings is:
 To let parents know how their children are progressing in school.
 To inform teachers on how children are coping outside school.
 To establish an ongoing relationship and communication with parents.
 To help teachers/parents get to know the children better as individuals
 To help children realise that home and school are working together

Informal Parent / Teacher Meetings
1. Communication between parents and teachers is to be encouraged.
2. Arranging parent/teacher meetings within the school day while children are in school is difficult.  However, parents are welcome to speak to the Principal or teacher(s) at an appointed time.
3. Meetings with the class teacher at the class door to discuss a child’s concern/progress is discouraged on a number of grounds:
a. A teacher cannot adequately supervise his/her class
while at the same time speaking to a parent.
b. It is difficult to be discrete when so many children are
standing close by.
c. It can be embarrassing for a child when his/her parent is
talking to the teacher at a classroom door.
Occasions occur where a parent needs to speak to a teacher urgently.  Sometimes these meetings need to take place without prior notice.  The Principal will facilitate such meetings making every effort to ensure that the children in the class do not lose out on any of the teaching / learning time.

If parents wish to drop in lunch boxes, sports gear etc, this can be done through the secretary’s office as it is important to keep class interruptions to a minimum.

Parents are strongly discouraged from taking pupils out of school during term time in order to facilitate family holidays.

Formal Meetings:
Formal timetabled parent/teacher meetings take place in November or January.  However, if a parent wishes to arrange a meeting at any stage during the year to discuss their child, they may do so by prior appointment.

 All communication sent from the school will be sent to the child’s home address as given on the enrolment form, unless otherwise requested by parents.
 In the case of separated parents, who were once married, requests can by made by both parents to meet their child’s teacher(s) individually for parent/teacher meetings.
 The natural father does not have an automatic entitlement to communication from the school in relation to his child/children.  He must be in possession of a court order or a statutory declaration to receive communication, otherwise all communication will be with the mother.

Complaints Procedure (CPSMA & INTO):
The following is the agreed complaints procedure to be followed in primary schools

Stage 1
1. A parent/guardian who wishes to make a complaint should, firstly approach the class teacher with a view to resolving the complaint.
2.  Where the parent/guardian is unable to resolve the complaint with the class teacher he/she should approach the Principal teacher with a view to resolving it.
3. If the complaint is still unresolved, the parent/guardian should raise the matter with the Chairperson of the Board of Management with a view to resolving it.

Stage 2
1. If the complaint is still unresolved and the parent/guardian wishes to pursue the matter further, he/she should lodge the complaint in writing with the Chairperson of the Board of Management.
2. The Chairperson will bring the precise nature of the written complaint to the notice of the teacher and seek to resolve the matter between the parties within five days of receipt of the written complaint.

Stage 3
1. If the complaint is not resolved informally, the Chairperson should, subject to the authorization of the Board:
a. supply the teacher with a copy of the written complaint and
b. arrange a meeting with the teacher, and where applicable, the Principal with a view to resolving the complaint.  Such a meeting should take place within ten day of receipt of the written complaint.

Stage 4
1.   If the complaint is still not resolved, the Chairperson should   make a  
          formal report to the Board within ten day of the meeting.    
2. If the Board considers that the complaint is not substantiated, the teacher and the complainant should be so informed within three days of the Board meeting.
3. If the Board considers that the complaint is substantiated or that it warrants further investigation, the following steps should be followed.

a. The teacher should be supplied with copies of any written evidence in support of the complaint.
b. He/she should be requested to supply a written response to the complaint to the Board and should be afforded an opportunity to make a presentation to the Board and to be accompanied by another person to that meeting.
c. The Board may arrange a meeting with the complainant, who may be accompanied by another person to this meeting.

Stage 5
1. Following the Board’s investigations, the Chairperson shall convey the decision of the Board in writing to the teacher and the complainant within five days of the meeting of the Board.  The decision of the Board shall be final.

Success Criteria:
The success of the plan will be measured by observing if the following happen:
 Benefit to pupil learning
 Parental involvement is increased in school activities
 Feedback from parents/staff

Roles and Responsibility:
All staff and parents have a role in supporting, developing and implementing this policy.

Timetable for Review:
It will be reviewed at first staff meeting of each school year and amended if necessary.

Ratification, Implementation and Communication:
The plan will be ratified by Board of Management at a meeting on December 15th 2010 and implemented from January 2011.  Parents will be made aware of this through the January newsletter.

Review Date: June 2011

Signed: _______________________________
   Chairperson Board of Management

Date: ______________



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