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The Suggestion Box – Why every school should have one

For many parents, approaching their teacher or school about a matter to do with their child or the school itself, may be difficult for a number of reasons.  Some parents may find their teacher unapproachable, so shy away from direct contact unless absolutely necessary.  Others may keep putting it off as they don’t want to be seen as a nuisance.  Working parents are often pressed for time or share drop-off and pick-up times with others, so can’t always speak to a member of staff. Also, if the matter is a sensitive one, such as a problem with another child, a member of staff or of a personal nature, parents can also find it difficult to talk to their teacher or school.

In an ideal situation, it goes without saying, it is always a good idea to try to talk directly to your child’s teacher. If it is a serious matter that is causing distress to your child, it is very important to talk to your school as early as possible before the problem escalates – even if it means arranging an appointment before or after school hours. 

However, many issues that parents may need reassurance about don’t necessarily require direct contact with a teacher and this is where the suggestion box comes into its element.   For parents who may be reluctant to approach a school or who may wish to remain anonymous, the suggestion box is worth its weight in gold. It provides a very effective means of putting forward suggestions and ideas to help improve a school, to highlight a general problem or to put forward a suggestion on behalf of a number of parents.  It is also easy for working parents to access, and it is a great means of communication for less pressing issues. 

A parent at one school told us: “Our school takes the suggestion box very seriously and if there are any school wide issues flagged up by a parent, these are communicated via our school newsletter each week.  Our head also often asks parents for feedback via our suggestion box, such as our experience of a new afterschool club or a system that the school has recently put in place, so parents feel that their views are really valued.”

In most cases, the contents of a suggestion box are read by the head teacher.  This provides a degree of confidentiality and is a great comfort to parents who can rest in the knowledge that they have put forward their query, suggestion or voiced their concern to whom it really matters.

For the head teacher, the suggestion box can provide an equally valuable source of information, giving them an insight into the world on the other side of the school gates.  It can play a significant role in helping the school to tackle problems, make improvements, identify gaps in communication or bring to light some great ideas.   Some matters, which could be perceived to be small or insignificant, can often turn into a bigger problem if they are not dealt with, and it is these sorts of matters which are often solved via the suggestion box.

As well as being an invaluable tool for parents and teachers, the suggestion box also plays a vital role for pupils themselves.   Nowadays, many schools have a ‘school council’ through which children are involved in all sorts of decisions about their school. These can range from school improvements to purchasing new equipment to finding solutions to wider school problems such as bullying.   Some school councils have a representative from each class, while others have year group representatives or a committee, all of whom are elected by their fellow pupils.  The school ‘councillors’ are expected to consult with pupils within the school before taking any matters raised to their school council meetings. The suggestion box plays a key role in this consultation process.

Another effective means of communicating with your school on a day-to-day basis, is the ‘clipboard’ method.  This is where schools place a clipboard and pen for each year group, in a plastic box outside the gate, which parents can use to pass relevant information to their teacher each morning.  It is particularly useful for notifying your teacher in instances such as if you need to collect your child early.

Good communication is always a two-way process and you cannot fault the suggestion box for its essential role in this.

If your school has an effective means of communicating with parents, we would be interested to hear about it so that we can share this good practice.  Please tell us using the ‘Contact Us’ button at the top of the page, or leave a comment below.

 

Comments

Jenny

16th May 2012 at 7:14 pm

My daughter goes to quite a large school and it pretty much impossible to talk to teachers in the morning at drop off and I don’t think they appreciate it either as it’s one of the busiest times for them. We all end up queuing in reception to leave messages in a book but the clipboard method sounds like a much better idea.

Gina

17th May 2012 at 10:00 am

My daughter is having a hard time with her teacher as she is very strict and shouts at everyone a lot. I’ve talked to the mums I know in the same class and they are finding the whole experience quite difficult because their children aren’t very happy. None of us know what to do about this situation. We can’t approach the teacher and it’s very awkward. We don’t want to complain as our children are stuck in her class. If we had a suggestion box, we could all deal with this anonymously and it could be addressed without any embarrassment and most of all without repercussions. I think a suggestion box is essential for every school and it would make parent’s lives a lot less stressful.

Tina

17th May 2012 at 11:53 am

There are so many things I would like to talk to our head about but don’t feel I can. She’s not very approachable and doesn’t seem to like dealing with parents. A suggestion box would solve this issue completely and I wouldn’t hesitate to use it. I mentioned it to a couple of mums at my school and they have the same view.

Lisa M

17th May 2012 at 7:09 pm

Our school doesn’t have a suggestion box, but I think it would make a huge difference to parents. Most of the mums I talk to find it quite difficult approaching the school as it’s usually because of a problem or something they’re not happy with.

Hayley

20th May 2012 at 1:50 pm

We have a suggestion box at our school and I have used it for a few times now. My daughter’s teacher was off sick for months on end and my daughter kept having different supply teachers. Quite a few parents complained about it via the suggestion box as none of us felt we could go up and voice our opinion. We just wanted to let the school know that we weren’t happy with the situation and requested that a temporary teacher be appointed. It worked – a month later her teacher went off on official long term sick leave and a full time teacher was appointed to stand in for her.

Mattie

23rd May 2012 at 2:59 pm

School communication is so one-way. At least the suggestion box provides one means of communication in the opposite direction. I agree every school should have one and it should be given the credibility it deserves.

fedupwiththeweather

2nd July 2012 at 9:21 pm

I would just like to let you know that my school has just put a suggestion box in the reception area thanks to this article. A couple of us read it and approached the head and she went out and bought one straight away! So thank you! I can see when I drop my son off that it is already being used!

24th December 2012 at 8:50 am

The idea of having suggestion box in the school is the best. In that way, you may know the suggestions, changes, and thoughts of the students and employees of the school. Reading this article will surely help you give some ideas why you should have suggestion box in your school. Moreover,suggestion boxes are now also used in marketing purposes.

 

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