The launch format for your event needs to be clear, concise and should avoid technical language. The focus should be on the educational outcomes for pupils and needs to demonstrate how these are supported by the new opportunities that will be possible by having the new resources at home. A launch that places emphasis on the device rather than the importance of learning outcomes runs the risk of being perceived as nothing but a ‘laptop scheme’ and encourages an argument about the price of the device compared to the high street!
Remember to use ‘language helpers’ to support parents who do not have English as their first language. Some schools have produced a Q&A leaflet in different languages, others have included time for smaller break-out groups, led by language supporters, as part of their presentation.
If this is your second or third programme, it helps to include positive feedback from those already actively involved to demonstrate the benefits they have experienced. Presentations from children are always very effective.
Keeping your event short and punchy helps to keep parents engaged and will also avoid information overload.
We have prepared a basic deck of PowerPoint slides to cover the key points that you can brand and enhance as you wish.
The most successful Launch format breaks the event down into a few key areas including:
Include the format of the presentation (more often than not this part is delivered by the Headteacher, before handing over to the students and other teaching staff)
The formal presentation
- The aims and objectives of the project.
- How ICT in the curriculum is changing teaching and learning.
This works particularly well when led by pupils giving practical demonstrations of how they now use technology on a daily basis and explain how they use the device at school.
- The device as a tool used alongside other learning resources i.e as part of their pencil case.
Dispel any thoughts that it will be used in every lesson all the time. Explain that it is enhancing and supporting traditional methods, not replacing them (a common concern expressed by some parents).
- The impact that home access to ICT can have on attainment levels.
Also how the device will allow the wider family to be involved. If this is not the first cohort then being able to show real examples of improved engagement and raised attainment along with positive reports from parents is also very powerful.
- Discuss the importance of joint responsibility, not just for the success of the programme but the care and protection of the device. Explain the Home / School Agreement – without it sounding too officious and why it is important for all parties so they know what their responsibilities are.
- Consider including a staged Q&A session between the Headteacher and some pupils asking how using the computer helps with reading and writing skills and how the children stay safe on-line to address e-safety concerns. This will pre-empt some of the common parental concerns that they might ask later. This can be supported by a Q&A leaflet and we have prepared a template that you might find helpful.
The compulsory video
In order to ensure there is a consistent, and Gift Aid compliant, message presented to parents we have produced a brief video for you to run at the Parents Event. It is a requirement that this video is shown at the event. You can show it as part of your own presentation or you can run it in isolation. The important thing is that you must show it to every parent attending the launch.
The video has been produced in several formats to ensure that there are no compatibility problems and they are all on a CD that is available through your School Liaison Manager or by calling the office.
You can embed or share the smaller version below by clicking the icon in the top left corner of the video. This version is not recommended for downloading and showing on a large screen as it is in a small format for website viewing.
A chance for questions
Many schools avoid a general Q&A session altogether and suggest that questions are dealt with individually after the formal presentation by staff who should be appropriately labelled and scattered throughout the meeting space. This makes it easier for a lot of people to ask questions they might not ask in public and it also prevents giving a loan negative voice a public platform and raising doubts in others heads.
If you do plan a general Q&A session then make sure that the session opens up with a positive comment as this sets the tone. If necessary ask a supportive parent governor to make the first comment. If a parent opens the session with a negative comment it could be very hard to recover the situation – and you could find that the whole session has been wasted.
It is worth providing a Q&A leaflet (as mentioned above) which should cover the most commonly asked questions. You might want to offer this in more than one language depending on your needs. You can also give them the opportunity to write down additional questions on a separate sheet (good for those reluctant to speak out in public) and then circulate the answers in a letter to be sent out as a follow-up to the launch evening.
Make sure that you have enough, well briefed, staff available to assist with the completion of Direct Debit mandates and Gift Aid Declarations.
If you already have a programme running with a different cohort then setting up an informal demonstration, allowing the children to show what they do and the benefit of using the computer at home, can be very engaging for parents. Examples of children showcasing their ICT skills have included:
- Presentations by children using creative software or Apps
- Demonstrations of software or Apps that help in core subjects like Maths & English
- Video projects produced by students
- Demonstrations of how Teacher / Pupil / parent communication is improved
- Demonstration of how homework can’t be lost!
Summing up & gaining parental engagement
The final stage of your launch is summing up what you are asking them to help you make possible for their child’s future in a modern world.
Set out why their support is needed and how it will allow the school to provide additional support to students during the 85% of their lives they are not in school.
Explain the package of resources being offered. Stress the school is planning to provide a total learning package and explain what is in that package e.g.:
- A device
- The Software /Apps that are included
- Warranty – the term of and what is / isn’t covered by it
- Insurance for home as well as at school – explaining the conditions & penalties
- eSafety software / control options
- Virus protection – and what it will & won’t protect against
- The case or other protection provided
- School based resources that will be accessible – for students & parents
- Adult training sessions – i.e. keeping up with the kids
- And so on – in other words stress the overall learning package rather than the device
- Remember to stress the importance of ticking the Gift Aid box on the donation form
Once the programme has been presented, and Q&A sheets distributed, many parents will be willing to sign up there and then.