When communication becomes unhealthy

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It was vital for parents to email teachers far more than usual during the pandemic. But the volume of messages has not stopped, as Nina Kingsmill Moore, Headmistress of Glendower Preparatory School, explains.

I am a huge believer that communication is one of the most important aspects of being a Head. But as we emerge from the pandemic, schools are witnessing an increasing problem of over communication from parents and it is having a significant impact. In the past, teachers may have received a relatively large number of messages throughout the day, but they managed to stay on top of these. Sadly, what is now being witnessed nationally, is a growing number of requests from parents for further information across a multitude of things.

Much has been written about the pandemic and how education has been affected, both in the long and short term. I had only started at my school six months prior and was just getting to know my school community when everything turned inside out. Communication needed to happen in every way possible but, for obvious reasons, not in person. So, video calls, phone calls, emails and newsletters were the way in which we communicated – and the more regular, the better.

I believe in open and frank dialogue and I encourage the parents in my school to speak to any of our Senior Leadership Team about any concerns. Like many schools, our Senior Leaders stand at the gates each morning and we often have very meaningful conversations with parents, which serve to allay concerns or inform us of things we had not been aware of. This is one of the most productive and enjoyable times of my day and is key to healthy communication taking place.

Once the gates are shut however, we have seen a growing amount of parental communication coming in, which has significantly increased in volume since before the pandemic. Speaking to other Heads in schools around the country, this now appears to be the norm, and I believe it stems from the need to reach out in so many different ways during the periods of remote learning during lockdown. But I firmly believe it is now time to reset and settle back into the more healthy rhythm of communication known to us before lockdown.

Nina Kingsmill Moore is Headmistress of Glendower Preparatory School in London