UK suggests parents be able to text teachers directly

Not all teachers are thrilled with the idea. Fears of late-night, abusive text messages give them pause.
Written by ZDNET Editors, Contributor

In what could be a more direct link for parental involvement with schools, UK schools are proposing that parents be given direct email and text message contact with their children's teachers, reports Times Online.

British parents who want to keep close track of their children's school progress have a new tool at their disposal—direct e-mail to teachers and text messaging. Parents will be able to log on to a secure website and get the latest progress reports on their kids. Parents may also be given email access to teachers, so they can put questions directly, and be kept up to date with lessons by newsletters.

"It's revolutionising the way that teachers can communicate with parents," Alan Johnson, the Education Secretary told The Times. "In the old days, parents would only know what was going on when they got the end-of-term report or went to the open day."

Johnson said that parental involvement is the the single most important factor in a student's success. "It is more important than ethnicity, more important than social background," he said.

"When you talk about the most difficult to reach, it's the parents who don't feel particularly empowered, are not as pushy as they might be because they are inhibited or lack confidence. This can help to break down those barriers," said Johnson.

A number of pilot programs have been instituted across the UK, but the program has its critics. Teachers are concerned that they wouldn't have enough time to answer all the text messages, and texting raised the issue of teachers' right to privacy, as they should not be contactable by parents 24 hours a day.

"So it is not a case of teachers trying to get on with teaching being bombarded by text messages," Mr Johnson said. "We can't put extra burdens on teachers. It is not about teachers having abusive messages, the whole thing has to be filtered properly."
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