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British Parents Want Text Messages from their Children's Schools

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According to a survey by Becta, the UK Government's education technology agency, over two thirds of parents would like schools to use technologies such as SMS and the internet to communicate with them more frequently. Currently, only 8% of parents surveyed are kept informed using these methods.

With busy working lives, many parents are now asking that schools adopt a similar approach to banks (74% of parents said they monitored their bank balance by phone or online at least once a month) and mobile phone companies (67% of parents received information from their mobile phone provider once a month or more frequently). These providers already update their customers via the internet and through text messaging.

Only 15% of parents surveyed were told about their child's progress at school at least once a month. 85% said they were only updated four times a year or less. Traditional school parents' evenings are still the most common way that parents are kept abreast of their children's progress, with four in five parents saying this is the method used by their children's schools.

Niel McLean, Becta's Executive Director Institutional Workforce Directorate and spokesperson for Becta's Next Generation Learning Campaign - which is driving the effective and innovative use of technology in learning, said: "Engaging parents is key to a child's success at school. Yet it appears parents and schools are not talking as much, or as frequently, as parents would like."

Tanya Byron, clinical psychologist and TV parenting expert, said: "I think that parents are right to be asking to have greater and more regular access to information relating to their children's development at school. Using a variety of digital platforms, such as the internet and text, will enable schools and parents to have a greater collaborative relationship, which can only benefit each child."

Parental involvement in a child's life and school work is one of the most important factors in the success of a child at school. Yet, eight out of ten parents surveyed do not feel they get enough updates on their child's progress. The technology is already available in schools that would bridge this gap by delivering frequent updates via the internet or text. Today, Becta is urging parents to talk to their child's school to find out how technology is already being used and also to discuss ways it can help improve day-to-day communications between them and the school in the future.

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