An interview with Robert Hutton, Junior School Assistant Principal, Kristin School, Auckland, New Zealand.
Before Storypark, what were your previous methods of keeping parents up-to-date with their children’s daily activities and progress?
We used written portfolios, (brief) end-of-day conversations with parents, showing parents work samples, newsletters and parent-teacher interviews.
What were the challenges and barriers you faced using these methods?
- If we’re able to ‘catch’ parents at the start or end of each day they are often in a rush, and we’re unable to fully share their child’s progress or go through their written portfolio
- Parents hardly ever add comments to written learning stories
- The cost and waste of paper resources
- The amount of time it took
- The difficulty of keeping written portfolios current.
What made you feel there was a need for Storypark?
We have many international families, so the ability to share with those far away was important. It gives a sense of an instant community and the opportunity to show a pathway of learning.
How easy or difficult was it to implement Storypark at your school?
Storypark is very user-friendly. It saves a lot of time previously spent creating beautiful backgrounds and headings for learning stories and enables us to celebrate events in realtime, leading to families having a real part in it.
What has been the effect of Storypark for parents?
Our parents have been delighted with Storypark. They like that they receive a notification the minute we upload a new story – they can be anywhere and read a story. They enjoy adding comments, and will often do so within seconds. Everyone involved receives a lot more feedback. They can see exactly what their child is doing on a daily basis. They can now also share more with families overseas.
What has been the effect of Storypark for children?
It gives children a visual reference to talk to their parents about each evening and on weekends. Some children prefer a printed paper version they can pick up any time – we are looking at how to make it more visually available to those children.
What has been the effect of Storypark for your school and practice?
Our teachers are more time-effective and it has cut down on the printing budget.
What has staff feedback been like?
- We personally like creating new stories, knowing that parents will be able to read them immediately – I find it exciting and motivating to send off a new story
- We thoroughly enjoy reading the comments from parents
- Teachers have all been very positive.
What is the future of Storypark at your school?
It is now being rolled out into Years 0, 1 and 2.
What advice do you have for other schools who might be thinking about using Storypark?
- Hold good professional learning sessions beforehand
- Start slow – don’t open it to all parents until you’re 100% sure that each teacher feels comfortable with what they are doing.