One of the North East’s largest multi-academy education trusts has recently embraced new technology that aims to help schools better communicate with parents. The software enables parents to have a positive impact on their children’s education, ultimately resulting in them getting better results at school, improving their wellbeing and raising their aspirations.

The Bishop Wilkinson Catholic Education Trust has been trialling a revolutionary new school improvement platform, FreeFlowInfo (FFI), and is already seeing encouraging results.

The software was developed and refined through six years of school-based action research by Engagement in Education, based in Beverley, a diverse team of highly respected and experienced education professionals including former school leaders, the DfE and local authority department leaders.

It replaces traditional, time consuming methods of reporting to parents with a new approach that enables parents, regardless of their social and educational backgrounds, to have a constructive impact on their children’s achievements.

Nick Hurn OBE, CEO of The Bishop Wilkinson Catholic Education Trust which currently comprises of 13 academies but will grow to 48 over the next 2 years, says: “One of our biggest challenges in education has been to create effective, meaningful and sustainable approaches to the engagement of parents and carers in children’s learning. FreeFlowInfo has proved to be the perfect vehicle in our quest to address this challenge, enabling our teachers, pupils and parents to forge, nurture and develop transformational links that have undoubtedly improved the students’ motivation and outcomes. Our academies also found the platform particularly useful for communicating with parents during lockdown.”

Experts believe that the attitude towards learning in the home is vital to children’s achievement, and that the effect of parental engagement over a student’s school career is equivalent to adding an extra two or three years to that child’s education.

Chief Executive Officer of Engagement in Education, Alan Cowley, says: “Parents talking to their children at home, for just 10 to 15 minutes each day, about what they’ve learnt at school is highly motivational for the child. Parental engagement has been identified as a key factor associated with many benefits for the child, including raised achievement and self-esteem, improved behaviour, better emotional adjustment, greater wellbeing and raised aspirations. Our FFI platform enables all of this to happen and we’re delighted that the Bishop Wilkinson Catholic Education Trust is already seeing positive results.”

Nick Hurn OBE adds: “The FFI platform is so much more advanced than many of the apps and software that most schools and parents are used to. It has reinvented the concept of reporting to parents. Rather than just giving information about a child’s achievements or behaviour, FFI enables selected examples of each pupil’s learning to be shared digitally with their parents, who use them as the basis for positive conversations with their children about their school-based learning.”

“Importantly, parents don’t need any knowledge of the school subjects. It is their positivity when discussing their children’s learning achievements that drives the pupils’ motivation to do even better. Of course, children are also learning when they’re out of school, through participation in sports, the arts, youth and cultural organisations, or through their family and life experiences. So, parents can use the system to upload photos and short videos of learning that takes place out-of-school, adding to this permanent record that recognises the importance of lifelong learning. This is an exceptional piece of software that parents, teachers and children can all benefit from.”