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The World’s Largest Parents’ Evening

Want to get parents to discuss the changes taking place in schools?

The world is changing fast and so are schools. The goal of The World’s Largest Parents’ Evening is to share all the great things that are going on in schools and involve parents in this discussion.

Finland 100

Overview

HundrED has selected this innovation to

Finland 100

Web presence

2016

Established

-

Children

3

Countries
Target group
Parents
Updated
March 2017
In my view schools have two basic objectives: one is to bring the know-how and the cultural heritage of the previous generations to the next generations. Another task is to provide skills that kids need in the future. As we live in a time where the future is increasingly more uncertain, the role of the latter task will increase.

About the innovation

What is it all about?

The world around us is changing rapidly. Today, school children are flooded with information and face more technology than the previous generations. That is why schools are constantly changing, but parents’ perceptions of school often date back to when they were there themselves. It may sometimes be challenging to find common ground for discussion between the school and home.

Co-operation between the school and home is very important for students. The World’s Largest Parents’ Evening aims to bring schools and parents together to discuss all the good things happening in schools and how to provide the students with the knowledge and skills needed in the future.

The main focus of the concept is to provide schools with good materials that can be used as such or applied to your local area. The World's Largest Parents’ Evening consists of three parts: a joint event in the school’s assembly hall, discussions in smaller groups in the classrooms and an open discussion for everyone.

The World’s Largest Parents’ Evening event team is responsible for gathering theme ideas, making a program outline and materials the schools can take advantage of. By organizing the event simultaneously in dozens or hundreds of schools, the current themes in education can be brought to a wider debate that the event team can also manage through its resources.

The World’s Largest Parents’ Evening was held for the first time in Finland in January 2017 and it gathered more than 20,000 parents in schools across the country to discuss the future of schools. The evening got a lot of praise both from schools and the parents.

Impact & scalability

Impact & Scalability

Innovativeness

The innovation offers a clear and structured model for a parent-teacher conference that guides parents’ discussion into a future-oriented direction.

Impact

Improving co-operation between homes and schools benefits parents, teachers and students.

Scalability

The actual work is done in the participating schools, so the resources required for preparation are quite basic.

Implementation steps

Assembling the event organizing team
Organizers in The World’s Largest Parents’ Evening should represent the education field broadly.

An versatile team brings many benefits to organizing the event. Well-known parties bring trustworthiness to the event, and a team familiar with the school system can avoid obvious problems. Expertise enables the design and implementation of materials in the service of parents and schools, and those working in the field of education already have contacts with schools and teachers.

In Finland, the event’s organizing team consisted of the Ministry of Education and Culture, the Finnish National Agency for Education, the Trade Union of Education (OAJ), the Association of Finnish Local and Regional Authorities, the Finnish Parents’ League and HundrED.

Discussion topics and examples to be highlighted
The first task of the event’s organizing team is to decide on the themes that will be highlighted in the event.

What themes in education give cause for thought? Which outdated impressions will require updating in particular?

Once the themes have been decided on, it is time to decide what concrete examples you would like to bring up. If you want to talk about developing assessment, where has it been done in a particularly interesting way? Or if you want to bring up skills needed in working life, which school approaches the subject in a future-oriented way? The organizing team’s knowledge and contacts are brought to good use at this stage already.

Share concrete examples with videos made for the event. It is important that the abstract discussion topics are brought to a practical level - clarifying each topic.

Program outline and materials
After choosing the themes and examples, you can move on to planning the program and materials.

It is best to keep the program simple. The World’s Largest Parents’ Evening consists of three parts: a joint event in the school’s assembly hall, discussions in the classrooms in smaller groups, and an open discussion for everyone.

Examples

The program can be as follows:

Public event at the assembly hall
18.00 – 18.10  The principal’s opening words
18.10 – 18.15 Video 1 – Challenges and the future of schools
18.15 – 18.25 What good things are happening in our school? - Presented by two teachers
18.25 – 18.30 Video 2 – What’s happening in schools around the country?
18.30 – 18.40 Future work skills – Presented by two parents.
18.40 – 18.45 Video 3 – Involving parents. Preparation for class discussions.

Class discussion
19.00 – 19.10 Dividing up into groups and a brief introduction
19.10 – 19.50 Discussion: How is the world changing and what kind of skills are needed in it? How should change be reflected in day-to-day school life and in what direction should schools be developed?
19.50 – 20.00 Summary, greetings to the kids & ending

The materials include at least the following:

  • A website 
  • Event logo
  • Event hashtag
  • Marketing materials
  • Videos
  • Instructions for schools
  • Materials for schools for the class discussions 
Opening registration and promoting the event
Opening the registration on time is crucial, because many schools plan their school year several months in advance.

The materials or videos do not necessarily have to be ready before opening registration: there is plenty of time to complete them.

Since a form is the easiest way to handle registration, the website of the event must be open at the beginning of the registration process. A simple website is enough: basic information and a registration form for collecting the information of the participating school and contact person.

For promotional purposes, use the organizing team's contacts. Contact teachers and training providers. In addition to email, you can also use industry publications, inexpensive online advertising, and appearing at educational events.

Making the videos
Videos are an essential part of the event's materials: they work as an introduction to the themes of The World’s Largest Parents’ Evening.

Optimally you should make 1-3 videos and it is best to keep their length at under five minutes per video.

Three videos were made for the first event in Finland:

  • The future and challenges for schools
  • What's going on in schools in Finland and around the world
  • Parents' involvement 
Other material
Once you have completed the videos, you can prepare your other material.

You can build enthusiasm for the upcoming event by informing people about the finished materials and the number of schools participating. The participating schools are the most significant part of The World’s Largest Parents’ Evening, so it is important to serve them well!

Public discussion
In addition to the discussion in schools, it is important to have a public discussion so that the themes discussed in schools can reach a wider audience.

An easy way to engage people in the discussion is the hashtag agreed upon for the event that people can use to post their comments and ideas on social media.

Public discussion may also reach parents, who usually don’t attend parents’ nights for one reason or another.

If you are able to raise media attention for the event, traditional media – television, radio and newspapers can also play a role in public discussion.

You can also inform the local newspaper about the event as they are usually happy to inform people of such events in their area.

One week before the event
Prior to the event contact all schools that have registered to make sure that everything related to the event is clear to them.

Make sure the schools have the necessary materials and instructions. Also, provide a chance to ask questions.

Send out the press releases.

Collecting feedback and summary
After the event, a feedback form will be sent to the participating schools, which will give the organizing team feedback on the success of the event as well as development ideas for the next time.

The feedback form can be made simply by using a free web form such as Google Form or Typeform. In the form you can collect feedback on experiences and suggestions for improvement and also what was discussed with the parents during the evening.

Spread of the innovation

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