Communicating effectively with the school community
By Alexandria Utting
Do you know exactly what your school’s P&C Committee does?
Chances are you probably don’t says Marie-Claire Grady, a woman who has been working hard at getting Cooparoo State School’s P&C Committee’s message heard.
As both the Managing Director of her company at 3rdView Consulting and a mum of two, it’s hardly surprising Marie-Claire is good at communicating. Before becoming involved, “I didn’t have any idea” what a P&C Committee actually did.
“Traditionally P&C committees don’t engage particularly well with the school community,” Marie-Claire acknowledged.
After taking on the role of secretary last August, Marie-Claire has seen the committee grow in members and engage with the school community, simply by changing the way it tells parents about what’s going on.
By developing a customer strategy for the P&C, just as she does in her everyday communications work, Marie-Claire has created a relationship with the school community not dissimilar to those she develops for her clients.
“The more open and transparent a P&C is with the school community, the more likely they are to engage with them.”
“From the start, we have always been open about what we were going to talk about at meetings; particularly if there was anything controversial,” she replied.
Marie-Claire mentioned there is often a mentality in P&C’s about not telling the community about a change for fear they won’t like it, and don’t want to rock the boat.
She suggests a better communication strategy is to get parents in a room and understand why they don’t like something and get their input on ways to fix it.
Five ways to get your P&C’s message heard:
1. Be open and transparent.
“That is my biggest tip,” responded Marie-Claire.
Sometimes it’s hard to hear you’re doing something wrong, but it’s important to make sure you know, so you can combat those problems.
2. Newsletter is number one.
“It’s critical to put something in the newsletter every single week.”
Elect someone to keep track of deadlines and ensure there is a stream of information going into the school community.
3. Be clear about where the funding is going.
“Tell parents, if you’re wondering why we’re raising money, please come and say what you want us to raise it for.”
4. Focus on the ways funding will impact kids.
Don’t just tell the community the P&C is buying books.
Treat parents like a customer and show them the results of the product, rather than just the product itself.
“Giving our children more interesting things to read is much more exciting for parents than just telling them the P & C is buying books.”
5. Find a balance with communication.
“Send too many emails and people just switch off, send too little and they don’t engage,” Marie-Claire said.
Try using a Facebook page to engage parents and get them excited about events and fundraising initiatives.