A school has launched a home visit parents’ evening scheme after dismal attendance records at their previous events.
Rottingdean’s Longhill School started the venture for families from the Whitehawk area of Brighton in November – and is already seeing results.
Fiona Barton, assistant head, said it got to the stage where on one parents’ evening, not one parent from that area attended.
She said: “We had to reach out to the community and so far it has been very positive.”
The Falmer Road school takes in children from the Woodingdean, Ovingdean, Rottingdean and Saltdean areas, but the new scheme applies just to pupils from the Whitehawk area.
Miss Barton, denied the previous poor attendance was due to lack of interest, but rather down to location and transport issues.
She said: “One of the main problems I think is the geography. But it is also significant that there is no direct public transport. Parents had to get two buses to get here.
“Whitehawk is one of the more deprived areas and parents are perhaps not as likely to have their own transport. All these things make it more difficult.
“It was clear parents were struggling to get to our events so we decided to take events to the community.”
As well as the parents’ evening scheme, two teachers are stationed each Wednesday morning in White- hawk Library as a point of contact.
They are on hand for drop-in appointments and also take bookings and carry out home visits.
For parents’ evenings the school hires the Big Lemon Bus to shuttle parents from the neighbourhood up to Falmer Road and back.
Senior staff make a note of those who cannot make it and offer to meet them in the library in the following days.
If they still cannot attend, then staff carry out door-to-door visits.
Despite only starting late last year, the school is already seeing results with 27% more parents from the area now being seen.
Miss Barton said: “It is vital to have that link between the teacher, pupil and parent. That relationship is paramount.
“But we have to be careful, this is a sensitive topic.
“Some people are really struggling but they are understandably very proud. We don’t want it to look like a charity visit.
“We have some fantastic pupils from the area and we want to ensure they get the most out of their time at the school.”