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Parent power goes on-line

Lowport Primary in Linlithgow is pioneering ways of using ICT to communicate with parents. Ninety-seven per cent of families have signed up to communicate with the school electronically and are e-mailed letters instead of receiving them by post.

Teachers use e-mail to communicate with pupils and support them with homework in a system also used by the school board and PTA. This led to a 60 per cent reduction in paper use last year. The school also uses webchat.

"When we launch a new policy now, we put staff on-line between 5pm and 6pm and have a webchat with parents," says headteacher Graham Logan.

Parents can now access the school more easily. Absence forms can be e-mailed to them and absences can be notified at any time by parents. There is also a 24-hour electronic suggestion box.

Last November the school held a conference on "Success at home and school", with nearly 200 parents attending.

"We ensured that everyone's voice was heard by using infra-red hand-held technology for voting," says Mr Logan. "When asked whether they thought aptitude was more important than attitude in terms of success in the 21st century, 94 per cent voted for attitude and 6 per cent aptitude. This was instantly displayed as a graph through the multi-media projector for all to see. It's a good way of doing questionnaires with parents, and we are planning more meetings like this," he says.

The school also plans to use the voting technology at their annual pupil parliament and at staff training sessions. Teachers receive training in ICT and each has a "techno-buddy" with whom they team up to show how they use ICT in the classroom. The school's "Webbies" committee includes staff, pupils and parents.

"The excitement the Webbies team has injected into school life has been amazing," says Mr Logan. "We also hope to use electronic planning and assessment tools and digital video technology to record key school events.

"It's about use, not techno-worship. It's not the size of your Ram that matters - it's how you use your equipment."

SETT

Enhancing Communication Using Interactive Technology by Graham Logan, Lowport Primary, Wednesday, 12 noon

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