Communication Policy

This policy was written in consultation with the Staff, Board of Management and Parents’
Association. It was created in order to provide information and guidelines regarding communication between teachers and parents in the context of St John’s NS. It also outlines the complaint procedures at the end of this document for parents.

Aims

• Develop close links between home and school
• Enable parents to collaborate with the school in developing the full potential of their children
• Outline the various forms of home-school communication
• Share the responsibility of maintaining the school’s ethos, values and distinctive character
• Encourage positive and respectful participation in parent/teacher meetings,
• Affirm the professional role of all staff members in the school
• Encourage active involvement in the school/parents’ association
• Encourage participation in policy development and decision-making processes.

Forms of Communication

• Parents Association AGM
• Meeting for parents of new Junior Infants – Term 3 prior to starting in the school
• Individual Parent/teacher meetings in Term 1 (Junior Infants – 6th Class)
• Staff meetings during Croke Park Hours
• Little Acorns will have weekly meetings with Principal or vice principal and the staff within the unit.
• Parents receive a school report at the end of each school year for each of their children.
• Meetings with parents whose children have special needs
• Parent/Teacher consultation throughout the year, as needed
• Written communication – letters in the schoolbag/emails/texts
• Little Acorns- staff communicate daily with family through a communication journal.
• Through the Parents’ Association, parents are invited to discuss and contribute to the drafting and review of all 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 or website
• Regular newsletters keep parents up-to-date with school events, holidays and school concerns
• 1st – 6th class – the homework diary can be used to relay messages which are signed between parents and teachers. Parents are requested to sign the diary each night to certify that homework has been completed
• Parents are invited to events throughout the year e.g. Seachtain na Gaeilge, school concerts etc.

All parents are welcome to make an appointment any time throughout the year. If a parent of children from Early Start, Little Acorns and Junior Infants to 6th class wishes to contact a teacher, he/she can contact the school secretary to arrange a suitable time. It is vital that the school is immediately informed of family events/situations that occur which may cause anxiety to the child and therefore may adversely affect his/her education.

Early Start have an open door policy for parents, all forms of communication is encouraged.

In all matters pertaining to the well-being and education of pupils, only the parents/legal guardians will be consulted by staff.

In the case of separated parents, they shall both be contacted when the child starts in the school or when the school is informed of the separation to identify the most appropriate communication arrangements for their particular situation. Both parents will be sent a copy of the end of year report.

Parent/Teacher Meetings

Formal Parent/Teacher meetings will be held once a year for all classes. Meetings for children from Junior Infants to 6th Class will be arranged during Term 1.

Little Acorns parents will meet with the class teacher and principal to discuss IEP, once during each term- Term 1, Term 2 and Term 3

The school will attempt to co-ordinate times where siblings are concerned. Meetings may take place in classrooms or support rooms. Parents can enrich teachers’ knowledge of their child’s progress by providing further information about his/her learning at home.

The purpose of the Parent/Teacher meeting is:
• To establish and maintain good communication between the school and parents
• To inform parents how their children are progressing in school
• To help teachers/parents get to know the children better as individuals
• To help children realise that parents and teachers are working together
• To inform parents of problems and difficulties the child may have in school
• To discuss with the parent the child’s experience of schooling
• To learn more about the child from the parent’s perspective
• To learn more about parental opinions on what the school is doing
• To identify areas of tension and disagreement
• To identify ways in which parents can help their children
• To make joint decisions about the child’s education
• To inform teachers on how children are coping outside school
• Parents can enrich teacher’s knowledge of their students’ progress through providing further information about the students’ learning at home.

Reporting to Parents/Guardians

Parents have the primary responsibility for their children’s learning and development. Schools can strengthen the capacity of parents to support their children by sharing useful information with parents about the progress that children are achieving in the education system. Teachers draw on the following sources of evidence:
• conversations with the child
• teacher’s observations on the child’s progress in reaching objectives laid down in the teacher’s short-term and long-term planning
• examination of students’ own self-assessment data
• teacher’s observations of the child’s engagement with tasks  outcomes of assessments, tests and other tasks  examples of students’ work.

End of Year Reports

End of year reports are sent home each June to inform parent of their child’s progress during the year. The school uses the template laid down by the NCCA. They also have additional useful information for parents on their website www.ncca.ie.
The teachers report under the following headings:
• Your child’s learning dispositions
• Your child’s social and personal development
• Your child’s learning and achievement across the curriculum
• You and your child’s learning.

Meetings with the Resource Teacher

These meetings pertain to children with special needs who have been allocated resource hours by the SENO (Special Educational Needs Officer). A meeting between parents and the resource teacher is arranged for September/October in order to discuss the child’s Individual Education Plan. 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.

Informal Meetings with Parents/Guardians (Junior infants to 6th class)

1. The school encourages communication between parents and staff. However, meetings with the teacher cannot be arranged for during teaching time.
2. Meetings with the teacher at the class door to discuss a child’s concern/progress are discouraged on a number of grounds:
a) Teachers cannot adequately supervise their class while at the same time speaking to a parent
b) It is difficult to be discreet when so many children are standing close by
c) It can be embarrassing for a child when his/her parent is talking to staff at a classroom door.
d) Keeping in mind that schools are very busy places, parents are asked, whenever possible, to contact the secretary to arrange an appointment to see the class teacher or principal. (Parents should reveal the theme of the meeting to the secretary so as the school can prepare adequately.)

Occasions occur where a parent needs to speak to a staff member urgently. Sometimes these meetings need to take place without prior notice. The Principal will aim to 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.

Informal Meetings with Parents/Guardians (Little Acorns)

1. The school encourages communication between parents and staff. However, meetings with the teacher cannot be arranged for during teaching time.
2. Meetings with the teacher at the class door to discuss a child’s concern/progress are discouraged on a number of grounds:
(a) Quiet drop off and collection is encouraged due to potential sensory overload for children
(b) Communication will be addressed through the journal however, the principal is open to meeting with parents as and when the need arises.

Complaints Procedure

Complaints are infrequent but the school would wish that they be dealt with informally, fairly and quickly. Appendix 1 outlines the agreed complaints procedure to be followed in Gaelscoil Shliabh Rua. These steps are followed when dealing with any form of complaint between adults in the school community.

Roles and Responsibilities

Positive and respectful communication is of great importance to our school. This not only extends to the children but to all of the partners in education e.g. the staff, parents, board members and the wider community. While the behaviour of children in our school is of vital importance, adults in the school community also have a responsibility to ensure their own behaviour models the types of behaviour expected of children.

It is important that all partners in education are responsible for their own behaviour in the school.

For example:
• All stakeholders are expected to speak to each other with respect. Shouting or other aggressive tones are not acceptable. If a stakeholder displays anger or aggression to another member of the school community, they may be asked to remove themselves from the building. In certain cases, the Gardaí must be called
• All stakeholders will treat all children attending our school with the utmost respect while on the premises
• Staff will only discuss school matters relating to the parent/guardian’s own child. The school staff will respect the child’s right to privacy so it is asked that parents respect other children’s rights to privacy
• When meetings are arranged, it is recommended to agree a reasonable duration for the meeting. Every effort should be made not to exceed the agreed duration
• Staffs are generally available to listen to a quick issue in the morning and after school. However, should a parent need to have a discussion or meeting, an appointment should be made for convenient time for both parties. Classes begin at 8.30 am and finish at 2.10pm and this time should not be interrupted.

Health, Safety and Welfare at Work

The Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act (2005) is an important piece of legislation for Boards of Managements and for those who work in schools. It is recognised that school staff may be at risk from violence in the form of verbal abuse, threats, assaults or other forms of intimidation. This behaviour may come from pupils, parents, guardians, other staff members or intruders. In this respect, all staff should be aware of DES Circular 40/97 and Health & Safety Policy and Dignity at Work Policy which deal with the procedures to follow if they feel they have been subjected to any of the above behaviours.

Success Criteria

• Record of number and nature of complaints and how they were resolved
• Feedback from the school community/visitors to the school that a positive, welcoming atmosphere can be felt in the school
• Feedback from school staff, parents, pupils, etc on how the policy is working
• Good relationship and good communication between parents and school staff

Review

This policy will be reviewed in 2019

Complaints Procedure for Adults

Complaints are infrequent but the school would wish that they be dealt with informally, fairly and quickly. These steps are followed when dealing with any form of complaint between adults in Gaelscoil Shliabh Rua.

Stage 1 – Informal Stage

1. If Party A wishes to make a complaint, they should firstly speak with Party B with a view to resolving the complaint
2. Where they are unable to resolve the complaint, Party A should speak with the Principal with a view to resolving it
3. If the complaint is still unresolved, Party A, if they so wish, should speak with the Chairperson of the Board of Management with a view to resolving it.

Stage 2 – Formal Stage

1. If the complaint is still unresolved and Party A wishes to pursue the matter further, he/she should lodge the a formal written complaint 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 Party B in question and seek to resolve the matter between the parties within 5 days of receipt of the written complaint.

Stage 3 – Formal Stage

1. If the complaint is still not resolved, the Chairperson should, subject to the authorisation of the Board:
a) Supply the Party B with a copy of the written complaint and
b) Arrange a meeting with Party B, and where applicable, the Principal with a view to resolving the complaint. Such a meeting should take place within 10 days of receipt of the written complaint.

Stage 4 – Formal Stage

1. If the complaint is still not resolved, the Chairperson should make a formal report to the Board within 10 days of the meeting
2. If the Board considers that the complaint is not substantiated, Party A and Party B should be so informed within 3 days of the Board meeting
3. If the Board considers that the complaint is substantiated or that it warrants further investigation, the following steps shall be followed:
a. Party B shall be supplied with copies of any written evidence in support of the complaint
b. He/she shall be requested to supply a written response to the complaint to the Board and shall 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 Party A, who may be accompanied by another person to this meeting.

Stage 5 – Formal Stage

1. Following the Board’s investigations, the Chairperson shall convey the decision of the Board in writing to Party A and Party B within 5 days of the meeting of the Board. The decision of the Board shall be final.

St. John's National School © 2020

Hi everyone,

Hopefully by now we are settling into a routine and the children are engaging in online learning. The teachers are working very hard to ensure that things go smoothly but please remember, there is no pressure on anyone at this very difficult time. The important thing is that we all remain safe and healthy and happy.

I have attached a letter for your perusal from the Minister of Education. In it she talks about what you should expect from online learning. Hopefully everyone is happy with the level of work and contact your child has with their class teacher but remember you can always contact the teacher directly at their email address or, myself at principal@stjohnsns.ie.

 

Stay safe and take care

Kind regards

 

12 January 2021

 

Parents of students receiving remote learning

 

Dear Parent/Guardian

 

I hope that you and your families are keeping safe and well at this difficult time.

 

As you know, from yesterday Monday 11 January, schools will be closed to students and all students at primary and post-primary level will now move to a programme of remote learning.

 

While NPHET is of the view that schools remain safe environments, the decision to close schools was taken in order to minimise mobility of the entire population and to support the suppression of the Covid-19 virus in the community. This will allow everyone to reduce their contacts, with a view to reducing the spread of the virus and a swift return to school for all.

 

Remote Learning during this period

 

Following the initial period of school closure last year, the Department has engaged with the education partners to revise remote teaching and learning guidance. This was agreed with all stakeholders last year and guidance for primary and post-primary schools was subsequently published online in October and December 2020 respectively.

 

As such, during this time, all teachers, including special education teachers (SETs), are required to continue to support teaching and learning for all pupils/students in their class/subject group or on their caseload.

 

Schools have been advised of the need to ensure appropriate provision and support for pupils/students during this time. Every school has been advised of the need to develop a contingency plan for remote learning that is appropriate to children’s different ages and stages, and has been provided with guidance on best practice. The guidance provided to schools notes that it is crucially important that the learning of all pupils/students, especially those with special educational needs and those at risk of educational disadvantage and/or early school leaving, are supported at this time. These guidelines are listed at the end of this letter.

 

Schools have been provided with funding as part of the Digital Strategy for Schools. In 2020 funding totaling €100m in 2020 was provided to schools and schools have been advised to prioritise supporting the purchase of devices for students who may not have access to devices for remote learning. The School Support services that are funded by the Department have developed a suite of materials to assist teachers in using an online platform to support teaching, learning and assessment. Furthermore, there is a range of supports available to schools from the National Council for Special Education (NCSE), the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment, Junior Cycle for Teachers, An Chomhairle um Oideachas Gaeltachta agus Gaelscoilaíochta, National Educational Psychological Service, Education Centres and the Centre for School Leadership.

 

There has been an excellent take up by teachers throughout the country of training and supports provided in this area, and I know that schools will do their utmost in these difficult circumstances to provide the best possible experience for students. Schools will contact parents directly with their plans and arrangements for remote learning.

 

The Inspectorate of the Department will continue to offer an advisory service to schools to support the delivery of remote learning and to provide assistance to school leaders in particular. The Inspectorate will also evaluate and report on the quality of educational provision for students at this time.

 

Returning to in-person learning for all schools

The Department is conscious that closing schools has hugely adverse consequences at individual, family and societal level. For children, it impacts on wellbeing, learning, on social and emotional development.

 

School closure has significant impacts on children with special educational needs. School closure also heightens student anxiety, particularly for the Leaving Certificate cohort, in relation to state examinations.

 

The Government decision included provision that in-person learning would be maintained for two specific cohorts from Monday 11, pupils/ students attending special schools and classes and final year Leaving Certificate students. Despite the confirmation by Public Health that schools remain safe, unfortunately it has not proved possible to get agreement to provide in-person learning for these two groups. In these circumstance there is no alternative but to pause the limited reopening and continue engagement with partners. I will keep parents of these students updated on this engagement.

 

The latest public health advice received by Government is available here. It clearly outlines that schools are safe environments, and that the protective measures and the considerable supports put in place to support schools have been successful.

 

Where there have been cases in schools, the enhanced school teams put in place by Public Health and the Department have worked effectively to support schools, and the level of transmission in schools has been low. Because of this, we continue to aim to return all students to in-person learning as soon as it is possible to do so.

 

 

 

Supports and wellbeing

It is important that students experience continuity of learning during this period to the extent that is possible for your family, bearing in mind your child’s age and stage. Research conducted in Ireland concluded that while online learning worked for some students during the period of school closure, it did not replicate the in-school learning experience – this was also the experience internationally.

 

We all know that it can be difficult to achieve maximum interaction with remote learning, with many competing demands and restrictions. The best advice is that you provide the support that is possible for your family to your child and that you prioritise your child’s and your own wellbeing, balancing that with supporting learning, during this period.

 

Links to some supports available are provided below.

 

I wish you and your family all the very best at this time, and hope to communicate soon with you on a safe return to in-person learning for all.

 

 

 

Regards,

 

 

______________________________

Norma Foley TD

Minister for Education

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Information on guidance provided to schools on remote learning

 

The guidance provided to schools that it is crucially important that the learning of all pupils/students, especially those with special educational needs and those at risk of educational disadvantage and/or early school leaving, are supported at this time, and sets out the following requirements:

 

Further details are available here:

Circular 0074/2020

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wellbeing

The wellbeing of all children and families is important, and the National Educational Psychological Service has a range of supports available on gov.ie/schools in the parents section which you may find useful. This material is being updated regularly so please check back: Gov.ie/schools/wellbeing.