A school newsletter lies at the heart of effective communication between students, staff, and parents. The question is: how do you make the most of this invaluable communication tool?
For starters, newsletters can take time and effort to get right, especially when pulling together content for each issue. Searching for content ideas, sourcing contributors, editing, and formatting can take up valuable admin time.
And with over 306.4 billion emails sent per day, it can be hard for school communications to cut through the noise. While you can’t guarantee parents will read your newsletter, there are some simple tips you can follow to help pique their interest.
We’ve rounded up plenty of simple ideas to turn your school newsletter into a useful tool for improving parental engagement and connecting the whole school community.
Why are school newsletters important?
While there are now many mediums of communication to choose from, newsletters are far from old hat. They still form a vital part of any school communication strategy, updating parents with regular, detailed information about school life – all in one go.
Newsletters provide the school community with comprehensive updates, covering a range of subjects. These can include upcoming events, student successes, key achievements, and much more.
With newsletters, you also have the option to link out to supplementary information. This could take the form of a PDF document or web page, giving parents instant access to all the information they need - without cluttering your communications.
School newsletters can shine a light on all the great things that are happening at your school, helping to bridge the parent-school communication gap.
Newsletters can serve as timely reminders of upcoming activities, events or even class projects. As newsletters are distributed on a frequent and regular basis, parents can rest assured they’re receiving the latest school updates.
User-friendly digital format
What’s more, digital newsletters – in the form of a PDF, link or email - can help to increase accessibility, ease of use, and improve engagement for time-poor parents.
In short, newsletters are a fast option for parents seeking to gain instant access to their child’s life at school. Better still, with digital newsletters, you needn’t worry about paper copies going missing.
By offering an online option, you’re providing maximum convenience, helping to nurture your parent-school relationships.
Finally, newsletters are a great tool for capturing the interest of prospective families who may be interested in enrolling at your school.
What can be included in a school newsletter?
You’re not alone if you find pulling together content for your newsletter challenging. Some newsletters may come together more easily than others.
With this in mind, if you haven’t already, try factoring in a few areas of content that remain consistent each month. This way, you can rest assured that you have a plan in place should some months be quieter than others.
Ultimately, there are plenty of ways to refresh your newsletter to ensure it remains a successful communication tool for your school. Here are some of our favourite ideas to strengthen your newsletters:
1. Upcoming events and school activities
No doubt you’ll have a range of school activities planned throughout the year, so why not take the opportunity to document any upcoming events in your newsletter. We’re sure that parents and students will be grateful for the gentle reminder, and it may even encourage sign-ups.
2. Incorporate content from your school blog
Your blog can shine a spotlight on school life, giving parents more insight into key developments and achievements. Promoting your blog through the school newsletter can help drive traffic to your website and communicate your core values to prospective parents.
3. Share Parent Teacher Association (PTA) updates and fundraising opportunities
If you aren’t already, use your school newsletter to update parents on the plans and successes of your PTA. This way, every parent or carer is aware of the different ways they can get involved – no matter how much time they have available. You can also detail the ways parents can donate to the PTA to help enhance school life for your students.
4. Document charity initiatives
Drum up extra support for your fundraising efforts by sharing the causes that matter to your school. Whatever activity you have planned, be sure to document how and where students, parents, and staff can get involved. And don’t forget to share post-event photos of the fundraising activities in action.
5. Publish interviews with students or staff
Consider including short interviews with students or staff. This could see you run a quickfire staff spotlight feature, giving parents and students the chance to get to know teachers in a fun and engaging way. And why not let students share what they enjoy about school life, as well as examples of their current work?
6. Share successes
Whether you’re celebrating the achievements of staff, parents, or students inside or outside of school, be sure to share their success in your newsletter. This way, the whole school community can recognise and acknowledge their achievements.
7. Cover in-classroom activities and projects
Where possible, share classroom updates and examples of good work to celebrate your students’ success. This will also give parents and carers greater visibility of school life. To ensure every year group has the chance to have their work featured, consider focusing on a different cohort for each issue.
What makes a good school newsletter?
A good newsletter comes down to a few simple factors: frequency, design, content, and distribution. To help you master these 4 key elements, we’ve compiled a list of our top tips below:
1. Choose a template
To maintain consistency and save on time, consider using a template for your newsletter. This not only makes life easier for your school, but a familiar layout will also help parents find the information that most interests them.
2. Use an eye-catching design
When it comes to design, remember to keep it visual to maximise readability. Long, text-based newsletters can discourage parents from engaging with your content.
Instead, considering using emboldened headlines, short paragraphs, icons, and images to make the information easily scannable. Where possible, aim to link to your website, enabling parents to find out more information - without cluttering your newsletter.
3. Carefully consider the time, day, and frequency of delivery
When it comes to distributing your newsletter, keep it consistent for maximum effect. This way, parents know when to expect your newsletter and can keep a look out for its delivery.
You may want to experiment with the time and day you distribute your newsletter. Determining the best day and time is often trial and error. It’s good to test AM & PM sends and see which works best for your audience.
Remember to analyse the results, tweaking your send dates and times accordingly.
4. Use a compelling subject line
The subject line is your chance to catch the reader’s attention and tell them what your email is about. Ultimately, it can determine whether or not the parents open the email.
Consider leading with an interesting story or headline to pique your readers’ interest. Try running your idea through a subject line tester to see how well it could perform.
Remember to keep it simple – some inboxes will cut off the last few words of a longer subject line, so be sure to keep it short and concise.
5. Make sure it’s mobile-friendly
With many parents accessing your communications from their mobiles, don’t forget to design for mobile-first. Emails designed for desktop monitors or laptops will not always translate well to mobile, and can inhibit parents from reading your newsletter.
Not sure where to start? For more information, read up on how to master mobile-first design.
6. Write for your audience
Writing content that resonates with your audience helps to maximise retention and drive engagement rates. But how can you achieve this?
To ensure you’re providing relevant and interesting content, why not conduct a parental engagement questionnaire to discover the topics parents are most interested in. This can help you tailor your content to their wants and needs.
7. Promote your newsletter
Be sure to share your newsletter across multiple channels to drive engagement and expand your audience reach. There are many channels you may want to consider, these include:
Where possible, encourage social sharing. Try including social sharing buttons at the bottom of your newsletter template to encourage parents to share your content on social media.
Consider creating a web-based version of your newsletter along with your email version. This gives people who aren’t on your mailing list the chance to view your content. It also enables you to link to newsletter-related articles via your posts, encouraging parents to engage with your content.
Consider hosting your newsletter on your school website. Placing links to your newsletter on your school’s website enables the wider school community to view and access your newsletter.
Use your school website to host current as well as previous versions of your newsletters, giving existing and prospective parents insight into past headlines, events, and school achievements.
Using school apps to distribute your newsletter is an effective way to improve engagement rates.
With apps like Schoolcomms’ school app for parents, you can send push notifications, reminding parents to view your latest newsletter in real-time, which saves them the need to check their inboxes.
With a school app, parents can view your school newsletter directly from their devices – anytime, anywhere.
8. Measure performance
You may wish to invest in paid email software such as Mailchimp, which gives you in-depth engagement statistics. This kind of software can show you which pieces of content your readers are most frequently interacting with, enabling you to identify the content that is resonating with your audience. You can then produce similar content to maximise engagement in your upcoming issues.
You can also keep an eye on open rates, monitoring which subject lines have the biggest impact and replicating accordingly.
Interested in finding out more about using email as a channel for communicating with parents? Download our free best practice guide today.