Here at Classlist we are astonished by the speed of change happening right now. Each day the government is announcing changes in policies that impact our daily lives in both a professional and personal capacity.
At the same time, we are heartened by the extent that school communities are working together to help each other. How creative solutions are being developed to ensure inclusiveness for school communities and beyond the school gate to their extended families.
Below is a summary of the week’s latest trends happening in Classlist school communities.
- 7 July 2020 What’s Trending: The Circular Economy, Buddies and IB results
Various themes are trending this week on Classlist. Including raising money for your school by selling second hand clothing, setting up a buddy system for incoming families and IB results for 2020.
Last week we saw school uniform sales trending. A surge of marketplace posts on Classlist as parents recoup some of their costs by exchanging good quality second hand uniforms, sporting equipment and musical instruments.
If however, parents want to offload items that qualify as more quantity than quality, we’ve picked up some schools promoting the selling of clothing by the kilo. Parents donate and the school receives £0.60 per kilo. Companies aimed at supporting school fundraising such as Bag2school.com and Happyschoolbag.co.uk. Do share with us if you have any experience with these organisations or any others that offer an innovative way of fundraising.
Buddy systems that match new parents to existing families is great idea. As former expats this is an initiative Clare (ex Brazil) and myself (ex India) would have appreciated. Especially relevant right now, with the current challenges of social distancing at school this term. If you are interested in learning more, do post any questions on Ambassador Circle or contact us firstname.lastname@example.org. We know a few ‘buddy’ experts are out there.
Related to the subject of helping parents buddy up, we are trialling classbudi a new video chatroom feature that encourages new parents to meet face to face albeit via video. If you want to get involved in testing our beta version do contact us.
If your school offers IB this is likely to be a contentious issue this week. According to International Baccalaureate, grades are on average the highest ever in the last four years. Many pupils and parents however, are expressing disappointment and confusion regarding their IB results. Families are very anxious about whether universities will honour provisional places.
Leading Headteachers are taking to social media to question the transparency in which grades were calculated. Check out TES.com for the latest articles on IB to share with your parents. TES is updating the latest IB news regularly. Lots of pupils and parents are also resorting to the IB organisation’s facebook page to make their views known.
Click on the link for further school community trends.
- 30th June What’s trending: second hand school uniforms
As the end of term approaches we are seeing a surge in second hand school uniform sales on Classlist. This may be surprising given social distancing and schools partly reopen. Or perhaps it isn’t, in school communities with amazing parent volunteers. These super heroes who spend their own time sorting, pricing uniforms and manning second hand stores are adapting well. By reinventing the second hand uniform sale to cope with the new normal.
Second hand school uniform shop appointments
A second hand uniform ‘pop up’ shop in the school grounds is a summer term tradition. An opportunity to clear out lost property cupboards. A chance for existing parents to recoup some of their outlays on expensive uniforms. For new families to save money. Schools can also make a little money on the transaction.
To comply with social distancing, schools are asking parents not to congregate on school premises. Instead, sign up to appointed time slots. Parent volunteers are taking advantage of free tools to manage their shop’s appointments. Like Calendly, Classlist or even a Google Spreadsheet.
Online marketplace exchange
With Covid19 impacting much of the economy, families are looking for value for money. And this applies to school uniforms. New uniforms are pricey and parents are looking to claw back some of this investment. With only a few year groups returning to school an online marketplace offers an easy way to display items and sell items to all of your school parents. Classlist’s marketplace is their online shop for many PTAs. Items are photographed and posted each week. Parents are posting directly too, displaying multiple images at a time. Parents use the Classlist map to locate purchase pickups.
For parents wishing to buy, there is a surplus of stock available for years 7 and 8. Sadly for those parents selling, many teenagers experiencing dramatic growth spurts, have grown out of summer kit not even worn this term. There is some great quality clothing to be found.
Parents aren’t just looking for clothes bargains. They are buying second hand musical instruments and sporting equipment. Again for those poor parents selling. I include myself in this category, trying not think too much about all the activities our children have missed out on this term. Cricket or tennis anyone?
Less schools are running pop up uniform shops or stalls. The few that are offering this service are taking it seriously. Minimising potential virus transmissions with the following actions:
- Suggesting to parents to wash items in an antibacterial detergent pre-sale;
- Sorting out donations with gloves on;
- Spraying items with antibacterial solution;
- Packaging clothes and shoes in clear compostable bags;
- Holding sales on hot sunny days outside;
- Asking shop visitors to wear masks and bring their own carry bags.
- Making contactless payments possible. Using student codes to charge against school bills or iZettle card readers.
Contact us if you would like to learn more about Classlist’s sign up tool or marketplace. Book your demo with us today.
For more school community trends click here.
- 22nd June What’s Trending: Zoom Explosion in Schools
Video demand exploding
We’ve seen a Zoom explosion in schools. Measured by the number of mentions and links shared by teachers and parents. Indeed, on Classlist hundreds of school communities are using Zoom for academic and social reasons. So much so, we carried out an analysis of this new way of connecting. At the beginning of the year we tracked about a dozen mentions. Zoom event links on Classlist are now reaching the thousands.
A few weeks ago we responded to the surge in demand for video more generally, by making it easier to share from youtube and other video platforms.
The demand for video for socialising and even having a live playdate is something we couldn’t have foreseen a few months ago.
For all the schools that have embraced Zoom there are equal numbers who have banned its use. Largely around security concerns. Although the Zoom team has fixed many of the early security concerns raised by schools, it still allows conversations to be digitised and shared with third parties. We believe families want their video experience to be more like real life. That includes the ephemeral nature of a face to face conversation – shared in the moment only.
Virtual School Gate
For schools interested in helping their families make new friends (especially Reception and Year 7s) we have developed our own video chat that mirrors those conversations around the school gate. Parents enter rooms for small scale group chats of up to four participants. As in real life they can move and swap around to different rooms.
Post chat, parents receive a summary of who they have met for future follow ups. Initial chats that lead to further conversations is as we know fosters friendships. We’re aiming to replicate this as much as we can within the constraints of social distancing.
All part of our mission to ensure that no families are left out.
For more information about our new video chat feature Classbudi
- 16 June What’s Trending: Tips for Recruiting Class Reps
Recruiting Class Reps is one of the more thankless tasks for PTAs and schools.
Where some PTA members despair that other parents avoid them in the playground. Just in case they get signed up to volunteer for something. Unsurprisingly, during lockdown and limited school gate mingling, finding those potential candidates can be harder than ever.
Although there are schools at the other end of the spectrum. Being a Class Rep is so popular that the PTA holds a lottery to allocate the role!
Here are three tips that will have parents queuing up to get involved.
Provide a clear ask
Class Reps are parents who liaise between their child’s class and the school PTA. They organise social events for the parents and carers of children in the class; keep parents informed about fundraising events and ask for volunteers to help with those events.
Class Reps are important community builders. Playing a key role of ensuring that no pupil or family is left out. As a rule of thumb Class Reps should organise at least one day and one evening gathering each term. This can be as little as turning up at a local cafe or pub. To more ambitious end of term picnics and Christmas parties.
Classlist’s event tool makes arranging an event, sending invitations and collecting money from parents take as little as 15 minutes. A lot of kudos for minimal effort.
Making parents laugh when recruiting can make the job more appealing. Here is a link asking parents to find their class rep super power in a humorous way.
Encourage job sharing
One of the key benefits of becoming a Class Rep is getting to know all the families in the class. Helping their child gain a stronger network of friends.
When recruiting class reps suggest sharing the role with another parent. It’s an easy way of making the job seem less onerous and more fun. Don’t assume the Class Rep role is the domain of mums only. Pro-actively seek out and ask Dads to volunteer. With the new normal of remote working this opens up the role to a much wider pool of candidates. Working parents will be looking to forge links with their school community tribe. Possibly as hanging out with work colleagues in person in the future will be less frequent.
Reward actions above words
Strong school communities are transparent about the school’s mission and values. They encourage parents to be there for each other. Strong communities recognise that some members of the community have different responsibilities. And offer them a path in which to grow and join an ‘inner ring’ within the community. This is not about leaving anyone in the community out. It is about acknowledging individual contributions with appropriate rewards. With Classlist community schools it is possible to monitor those parents that respond to parent questions or arrange informal events. Note these are not necessarily the parents with high profiles and are visibly hovering around the Head’s door. Rewards can be in the form of higher status. Giving them authority to invite new members to join the community or to approve new parent members. Such as hosting a ticketed event.
Read our article ‘What it’s like being a dad class rep‘ on our blog.
For more school community trends click on the link here.
- 8 June What’s Trending: Teacher Gifts Including Survival Kits
With so few weeks left to the end of the school year many school communities are collaborating on teachers gifts. We highlighted during teacher appreciation week that many schools celebrated this with creative contributions from pupils.
More recently we are hearing about fantastic ‘teacher survival kits’ being assembled. Comprising cakes made by parent (professional) bakers, coffee, tea, wine and flower growing packs. Distributed in a specially printed canvas tote bag.
Collecting money is always challenging and especially right now. Well-organised reps are already using Classlist to help them organise this by using Classlist’s ticketing system for parents to transfer funds to the Class Rep. Set up a ticketed event called Teacher Gift and suggest donation amounts. Receiving the money upfront will ensure you aren’t out of pocket.
See some suggestions from teachers below, what is good in their books and what to avoid.
- Club together to buy some vouchers from the class. Might sound unimaginative but teachers love these as they can spend as they like. John Lewis, Amazon, David Jones and Marks & Spencer are all safe bets – they can use them to fund some extra goodies for their family or just treat themselves. This year the recently launched Disney+ channel, Audible 3 month membership and Netflix vouchers are also going down a treat.
- Scented candles – you can never really have too many of these and they are expensive to buy for yourself.
- Treat consumables – a hamper from the whole form that the teacher can share with their own family make popular gifts.
- Wine – a steady favourite which won’t go off.
- Disney+ vouchers – again a whole class present but these are very popular too as they can be used right away.
- Home made cards with genuine messages from your child.
Gifts to avoid
- Home made biscuits or chocolates. Be honest, now, would you really want to receive these? Unless from a professional baker.
- Toiletries. Many consider this to be too personal and some may have skin allergies
- Stationery – or any thing to do with being a teacher. You wouldn’t give your mum Hoover bags, would you
- Any individual present that’s very expensive. Embarrassing for the teacher – and if it’s very valuable might even get them into hot water with the taxman as taxable benefit
Above all – just use your common sense and remember the card from your child is the most important kind teacher gift.
See what else is trending on Classlist here.
- 2 June: What’s trending : Hybrid education
With schools reopening Headteachers are juggling remote and in-class learning. Creating a hybrid education solution to meet the needs of an ever changing landscape.
What a tumultuous time for anyone involved in education right now. The 1st June marked the reopening of some UK schools for selected year groups. For school staff the half term was spent completing risk assessments, preparing class rooms and communal areas for social distancing. UK staff grateful for the insights gained from their overseas peers that reopened a few weeks back.
In the UK there are 700,000 students who haven’t had any kind of lesson since late March. The majority however have had access to some kind of remote learning. Here at Classlist we are seeing some fantastic examples of parents filling the gap by pooling resources and sharing their experiences of the multitude of online products available for free during lockdown.
Hybrid education solution
No matter the geography, no schools are operating with full attendance. Hence the term hybrid education is emerging. Both online and offline lessons are being offered to ensure that children aren’t missing out.
In the case of private schools, particularly those that have foreign pupils this is becoming a unique selling point a differentiator. In a market where private school pupil intakes are shrinking.
Both public and private schools are trying to work out how to divide their resources across remote, online, offline and in-class learning. Last week schools were surveying parents to work out how many children were likely to attend to help with teacher resourcing levels.
Now that many schools are continuing with ‘remote learning (note distinction from online) at the same time, consulting with parents on their experience so far has been essential for understanding what pupils and parents value. For instance, the extent of live vs recorded learning. Online tools vs printable documents. The quality and regularity of feedback to pupils and parents.
Leading schools are finding their parent community is a highly cost effective way of working out how to improve their beta ‘remote schooling product’. Even those schools that had invested in online learning prior to lockdown, their solutions weren’t put to the test of scaling across all students and subjects.
All agree that schools have put together prototype or ‘beta’ type solutions in rapid time. Setting a positive growth mindset example to their pupils: rolling out a new kind of education by focus, hard work and learning by doing. Like all good product development version 1:0 is what they call minimum viable. After half term school leaders are listening and making further iterations (version 1.5) following consultation with both pupils and parents.
Consulting parents not only provides just feedback. Involving them in your hybrid education solution converts your parent base from consumers into collaborators. From grumblers to contributors.
Two practical ways of collaborating:
The two most common ways we are seeing here at Classlist, that school communities collaborating are by surveying and sharing. Here are some popular tools being used by staff and PTAs.
Wiki tools: For pooling resources. This can be a section on your school website, shared on Classlist with links to other free repository tools. Our favourites are:
- Nuclino Cool interface. Need to check your situation and whether your needs would kick in to the premium version.
- Google drive Not exactly a wiki but a useful collaboration tool
- Dropbox Similar to Google
- Docuwiki Old fashioned interface but it works. Opensource so it’s free without limitations
Survey tools: Many schools are issuing surveys to learn how they can improve their initial offer and capture any good ideas. Particularly from the many families that may be experiencing remote learning from more than one school. An important question “Any ideas that work elsewhere?” is a great way to learn from other schools. Make sure you share the results. Including those ideas that are especially popular and that you can make a quick win by implementing.
Our favourite survey tools:
For further examples of what Classlist members are talking about go to What’s Trending in School Communities.
- 19 May 2020 What’s Trending: Teachers Needed?
One of the top topics trending on Classlist in the past seven days:
How many teachers needed when schools reopen?
The number of teachers needed when schools reopen will depend on the level of demand from parents to allow their children to return. On this subject there have been numerous surveys across the country with a range at times conflicting statistics about the percentage of parents willing to send their children back to school on June 1st.
Indeed, over the weekend an enormous debate about whether schools should reopen took up most of the papers. Medics, teachers union and government officials discussing whether teachers will be safe under the new guidelines. Whether reopening could trigger a second spike in cases. Those in favour or against are turning to examples of schools in other countries to support their arguments. With more and more countries reopening schools there are more case studies. What is starting to emerge is that it really depends on the extent the local region is Covid19 Free. In France regions have been classified as green, yellow or red. Schools in green have been allowed to reopen.
In the meantime, many Classlist schools are adopting a localised approach. By sending out questionnaires to their own school community, asking them how likely they are to send their child/children back on 1st June. Some Headteachers are even visiting families to ensure they pick up on any concerns.
So whilst the debate continues, Headteachers are getting down to the practical job of making sure adequate resources and teachers are available to match the demand for reopening classes at their specific school. This is in addition to working out how to best keep their staff safe within their school environment and local circumstances.
Further topics trending this week on Classlist go to school community trends
- 12 May 2020 What’s trending on Classlist: Schools Reopening
How will schools reopen?
Schools reopening was the biggest topic trending on Classlist last week. Specifically, if the Prime Minister would announce on Sunday the reopening of schools before the end of summer. The official answer is yes, sort of.
Last night the government released guidance on how it believes schools can start to reopen safely. From all accounts the reaction from headteachers is one of trepidation. Understandably, they are feeling the pressures of executing these guidelines in practice. They will need time to consult with peers and parents on how to pull this off.
Their primary concerns: how to ensure the safety of their staff and pupils. Plus, how to build parent confidence enough to even allow their children to attend school.
One of the details that needs fleshing out is scheduling school drop offs and pick ups to minimise parent interaction. If you haven’t used it already you may want to explore Classlist’s sign up tool. You can ask parents to sign up to particular times to drop off their children. Like the rest of Classlist’s features – its free.
From transportation, class sizes (it sounds like up to 15 max), use of PPE gear and one-way corridor systems – there will be lot of micro decisions needed to make reopening happen. Headteachers will be looking to school community leaders for help. This includes official and self appointed leaders: PTAs, parent associations and class reps and community minded parents stepping up to help in the next coming weeks. You will have plenty of interesting experiences to share with your head and with each other.
Apply to join our invitation only Ambassadors circle and share ideas with other school community leaders. Contact us email@example.com
To see previous weeks of What’s trending on Classlist click here.
12 May 2020, Susan Burton, CEO, Founder, Classlist
What’s trending Week 4 May 2020
Video is the new normal
Video for school communities has become the new normal. Both recordings from Headteachers and class teachers comprising daily updates and lessons. Plus live video meetups for PTA planning or class virtual coffees. Even after schools re-open we are confident this new habit is here to stay. Video offers both convenience and potentially inclusiveness. More effective in reaching those harder to reach parents (all you need is a smartphone). More efficient than the informality of the school gate.
In light of this, here at Classlist we have made it much easier to share videos from youtube and links from other sources to your parent community. Just look out for the Classlist icon and select the class you wish to share with.
Virtual PTA Time
PTAs are adapting with many arranging virtual PTA meetings this week. A key challenge for many committees is recruiting new members to join or shadow existing committee roles. Now more than ever – key criteria for recruiting will be digital communication and marketing skills. A good way of identifying this is by reviewing those parents that are responding to posts from others on Classlist or other social media. Those parents who are volunteering to help out. Who are assiduous at reading all the comms the school sends out and helping the rest of us to remember what we need to complete, fill out and generally overcome school administration mental overload.
Those job descriptions you may have used before for your committee need to be updated to reflect this new skills gap.
What’s trending Week 27 April 2020
Local businesses needing help
A key trend spotted this week – are parents coming together to support their local business often run by a parent in their school community. To help support these efforts we’ve added further fields to the parent profile page where parents can add their business website, social media pages. There is also an about field where you can describe anything – including your business or services. According to our observations – if parents know about you and your business the community will do what it can to step in and help.
Parents can now set up a promotional campaign directly on the website https://business.classlist.com. If you give us the heads up about these businesses we will give 25% to back to your school.
A big trend that isn’t happening compared with this time last year are face to face events. Welcome picnics for new families, leavers parties and summer fairs. If your school needs some help supporting newcomers here is our recent blog. Feel free to pass to your headteacher. https://blog.classlist.com/5-tips-new-pupils-lockdown/. In the meantime join our Ambassador Circle and get more ideas from other Ambassadors who are coming up with innovative ways of integrating new parents.
Sadly, the frustrations around homeschooling is dominating conversations instead of discussions about fun events! The statement below pretty much sums up.
What’s trending Week 20 April 2020
Virtual Quiz Nights
Some schools are returning this week to a new kind of schooling: reaching out to pupils using a whole host of platforms from Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Google Hangouts – the list is long. Maintaining engagement is a challenge and parents are juggling with extracting their children from more tempting digital distractions.
Counterbalancing the downside of this, is the upsurge in virtual quizzes occurring in school communities along with the rest of the nation. Our Classlist school ambassadors are expert quizmasters, regularly running successful school wide events each year, raising money for their schools and local charities. Drawing on this expertise and knowledge we have written a guide how to run a virtual quiz night for your school community.
What’s trending Week 13 April 2020
Pupils helping out the NHS
After the incredible 750,000 volunteers who signed up to help the NHS it is not surprising that many of us are still waiting to be assigned a task. In the meantime lots of school communities are getting stuck in: either running virtual fundraising events, collecting food and household item donations or creating PPE gear. Asking children to do errands at home and donate their earnings to the NHS is certainly going down well with parents.
Leavers Hoodies and Year Books
It will certainly be a different right of passage for this year’s cohort of leavers. No exams for the more senior years. Possibly no final discos or leavers balls. Although we are crossing fingers that they might still happen…. Plenty of reminders about last call for Leavers Hoodies orders. Plus contributions to year books.
A final gathering even if virtual can alleviate some of the stress during this time of transition. If you would like to learn more about how to host a final “Leavers Wave Rave” click here to book your place.
Plenty of Easter craft sessions ranging from sharing Easter themed photos, decorate an egg competitions to Easter bonnets.
What’s trending Week 30th March 2020
Last week we detected online learning as trending but home learning and homeschooling are becoming the phrases of the moment: Google search queries of the terms have basically gone vertical (see chart above). Likewise, on Classlist headteachers and staff are using announcements to distribute course work: adding in youtube links to daily videos and links to zoom class gatherings.
If you are looking to help your headteacher in reaching out to parents we suggest that you use the Classlist community events feature and add your links into the event description. This way parents will get prompted about the live event and be able to access the link to join more easily.
Social media channels are battling to prevent the monetisation of the word coronavirus. Amazon, Google are no longer allowing bidders to bid on coronavirus as a keyword in search. This is to prevent the spread of misinformation.
Schools are informing parents to watch out for scams relating to free school meals and not to share any banking information with anyone.
Schools are readily adopting enterprise video conferencing and document storage software such as Teams, Zoom and Dropbox. But Heads are recommending guidelines should be issued prior to usage as there have been cases of children behaving not so well towards each other. Hosts can record events and transcribe conversations. So participants are placing a great deal of trust in them.
Here are some further helpful hints on how to protect your privacy on Zoom. https://www.consumerreports.org/video-conferencing-services/zoom-teleconferencing-privacy-concerns/
More informal video software such as Houseparty has seen a surge in downloads. Whilst it’s easy to sign up to and use there are some security issues and it isn’t ideal for the under 16’s according to National Online Safety They have issued guidelines “What parents need to know about Houseparty” In addition to the concerns highlighted by National Online Safety, we would like to make parents aware that Houseparty holds all your child’s data in the USA and is not subject to European data protection and privacy requirements.
Working parents have set up a virtual childcare system, where one of the group tends to the others’ children online while the rest get on with their work. We look forward to hearing more how this is working!
Online programmes that are giving parents a brief respite include Joe Wicks 9:00am PE Fitness, David Wallam 11:00 story time, and NiiX.fitness 3pm 15 minute kids exercise class. Lots of teachers are setting gardening and outside play projects to help children get away from screens.
In the case of teenagers, getting them out of bed seems to be main challenge……
What’s trending Week 23 March 2020
Top trends this week: online learning, volunteering and virtual fitness.
This week’s headline trend is all about online learning. Teachers are coming onboard Classlist to distribute homework and interesting materials to keep them engaged in the subject to hand. A whole range of tools are being used: Google classroom and links to youtube videos. Teachers are becoming very adapt at recording their classes. For the younger years, reading stories to their class. The older kids, teachers are setting fun quizzes.
Volunteering for the NHS
Volunteering discussions are still super active. Perhaps not a surprise that over half a million people volunteered to help the NHS this week.
Parents are also discussing online fitness for their kids. Joe Wick’s free morning workout is proving to be very popular with our members. Dogs are also getting more exercise, a more popular chore than clearing the dishwasher.
We are delighted to announce one of our business sponsors is now offering a FREE 15 minute session for kids starting at 3pm, if you have managed to stick to some kind of school timetable for the day. Go to https://www.instagram.com/niix.fit/?hl=en to take advantage of these fun sessions.
What’s trending Week 16 March 2020
Here we will share with you some of the wonderful ways that Classlist Ambassadors are helping their school communities. Here are the top three trends for this week:
Looking after grandparents
Years ago we built in grandparent membership for the obvious reason that many grandparents are involved in regularly caring for their grandchildren, especially school pickups and drop offs.
Another trend we observed, was that a sizeable number of our members were the ‘sandwich generation’, responsible for looking after younger children and their parents at the same time. We saw grandparent coffee mornings being set up to enable grandparents to meet each other and make friends around their common interest – their grandchildren.
Face to face meet ups will be a challenge for this group in the next few months. Classlist is helping however to identify those grandparents living locally by encouraging them to share their location when they join Classlist. The landline is a lifeline for this generation. The Classlist contact list that displays phone numbers offers familiar ground. We’re taking this a step further with a gentle nudge to [encourage grandparents to call each other during this time of prolonged isolation].
Here is a video link showing [how to add grandparents to their school community on Classlist]
COVID-19 Q&A Groups
An opportunity for communities to ask questions of its leaders is good practice, essential when the landscape is changing so rapidly. Setting up a group on Classlist in which parents can post questions for school leadership to answer is an effective way of curbing the rumour mill propagating untruths on unreliable WhatsApp groups.
Signing up volunteers is an essential role parent associations carry out. The peak season for needing helpers is usually at Christmas at the fete or in the summer term for the Christmas fair. These organisational skills are now being put to use to help support those families in the school that are already self isolating. We are seeing parent associations suggesting to those families in isolation to create on classlist events a ‘wish list’.Here is a list of the kind of things featuring:
- Virtual playdates
- Virtual happy hours
- Virtual homework sessions for specific subjects
- Dog walking rotas
- Offers to take pictures or capture videos of school events that are still continuing. Music concerts for example.
Here is a link to [some kind of resource or video to help set up help]
School Community Trends
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