The Official Parents' Forum

Area for current parents, past parents and future parents of Blues or Old Blues.

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ailurophile
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The Official Parents' Forum

Post by ailurophile » Wed Jun 08, 2011 12:32 pm

While checking something on the CH website this morning, I took a quick look at the Parents' Forum. This has now been available to parents for almost exactly a year, and although in format it is almost identical to the Unofficial Forum, it doesn't generate anything like the same level of activity from current parents. The statistics indicate that there are 111 members, who in the past 12 months have between them generated 43 topics with a total of 318 posts. The most recent post, on 19 May, actually advised a parent with a specific query to 'check out the unofficial forum' !!

I appreciate that it is not possible to make direct statistical comparisons between the two sites, as the Unofficial Forum is public whereas the Parents' Forum is password-protected and open only to current parents. Even so, it strikes me that a lot of us do use this site regularly to raise questions, chat with and support other parents - so why hasn't the school's own Forum, which was launched for that purpose, taken off to the same extent?

I'd be interested to hear what you all think. Have all the current parents who use this site also signed up to the 'official' Forum? Do you post there, or even look at it regularly? If not, why?

Perhaps I might post the same topic on the Parents' Forum as a control experiment, and see which gets the most response! :)

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Re: The Official Parents' Forum

Post by pinkhebe » Wed Jun 08, 2011 1:34 pm

I know nothing about the other forum, it's not been mentioned to me as a parent.
I don't know how happy I'd feel about being honest about the school, on 'the schools forum'

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Fairy
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Re: The Official Parents' Forum

Post by Fairy » Wed Jun 08, 2011 2:11 pm

I have seen the official forum on the website but have not yet been given any login or password, perhaps this is sent later (dd not joining till September this year). When / how do you receive these or do you have to request a log on etc?

Antinous1
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Re: The Official Parents' Forum

Post by Antinous1 » Wed Jun 08, 2011 3:51 pm

I've always thought that the school is remarkably poor in its handling of its own forum and this one. We live in an age where the internet is seen as a natural first place to turn for information and most businesses (and a fee-paying school, however special, is a business) understand the need to 'control' their web presence. CH's own forum is hidden behind a password, so that only current parents can see any of the discussions, and when you get through that it feels unwelcoming and neglected; I don't think staff use it all and only a handful of parents do for, mostly anodyne, brief discussions (those of you without passwords are missing nothing!). It gives the impression that the school are paying lip-service to the idea that parents want a forum, but can't be bothered to actually make it work. I don't understand why they don't split it into two levels: an open one where prospective and about-to-be parents can ask about and discuss the admissions process and what to expect when preparing to start at the school, and a password protected one where current parents could discuss more private matters. Both of these areas would need regular and reliable contributions from staff representing different areas of school life (academic, admissions, financial, welfare) - I'm not suggesting they'd do it for free, mind you. I think they should be paid to do it properly, so that questions get answered promptly and with authority.


Pinkhebe has touched a nerve when she says that she would not be comfortable being honest about the school on its own forum, and that's exactly how I feel too at the moment. I'm not stupid enough to think that I am really anonymous on this forum, and I know that I have to be accountable for anything I say, but I am fairly sure that if I am careful no one from the school reading it will know who I am. I am not at all sure that that is the same on the school forum. However it can only be in the school's own interests to make the official forum lively and informative enough that it becomes the first port of call for information for all prospective and new parents and a place where everyone feel comfortable and free enough to bring up problematic issues as they arise, so that the school can limit the damage to their public profile by being seen to swiftly address these issues and act if necessary.

As it is the majority of prospective parents 'googling' for info about CH will undoubtedly end up here where, apart from the very fact that questions about uniform, music lesson costs, phones etc need to be asked here suggest that the school itself is poor at communication, negative issues raised can give a very bad impression. If I were considering applying at the moment I would be extremely put-off by Dr Mummy's experience over the fees, not to mention the horrific account of the treatment of children invited to reapply for entry in 2012. A handful of staff are often extremely helpful on this forum when it comes to answering run of the mill questions, but negative issues are often ignored or dealt with in a very ad hoc fashion and the school would be well advised to take control of these issues itself rather than let
hearsay and opinion become what outsiders see of the school when they google!

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J.R.
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Re: The Official Parents' Forum

Post by J.R. » Wed Jun 08, 2011 4:52 pm

Antinous1 wrote:I've always thought that the school is remarkably poor in its handling of its own forum and this one. We live in an age where the internet is seen as a natural first place to turn for information and most businesses (and a fee-paying school, however special, is a business) understand the need to 'control' their web presence. CH's own forum is hidden behind a password, so that only current parents can see any of the discussions, and when you get through that it feels unwelcoming and neglected; I don't think staff use it all and only a handful of parents do for, mostly anodyne, brief discussions (those of you without passwords are missing nothing!). It gives the impression that the school are paying lip-service to the idea that parents want a forum, but can't be bothered to actually make it work. I don't understand why they don't split it into two levels: an open one where prospective and about-to-be parents can ask about and discuss the admissions process and what to expect when preparing to start at the school, and a password protected one where current parents could discuss more private matters. Both of these areas would need regular and reliable contributions from staff representing different areas of school life (academic, admissions, financial, welfare) - I'm not suggesting they'd do it for free, mind you. I think they should be paid to do it properly, so that questions get answered promptly and with authority.


Pinkhebe has touched a nerve when she says that she would not be comfortable being honest about the school on its own forum, and that's exactly how I feel too at the moment. I'm not stupid enough to think that I am really anonymous on this forum, and I know that I have to be accountable for anything I say, but I am fairly sure that if I am careful no one from the school reading it will know who I am. I am not at all sure that that is the same on the school forum. However it can only be in the school's own interests to make the official forum lively and informative enough that it becomes the first port of call for information for all prospective and new parents and a place where everyone feel comfortable and free enough to bring up problematic issues as they arise, so that the school can limit the damage to their public profile by being seen to swiftly address these issues and act if necessary.

As it is the majority of prospective parents 'googling' for info about CH will undoubtedly end up here where, apart from the very fact that questions about uniform, music lesson costs, phones etc need to be asked here suggest that the school itself is poor at communication, negative issues raised can give a very bad impression. If I were considering applying at the moment I would be extremely put-off by Dr Mummy's experience over the fees, not to mention the horrific account of the treatment of children invited to reapply for entry in 2012. A handful of staff are often extremely helpful on this forum when it comes to answering run of the mill questions, but negative issues are often ignored or dealt with in a very ad hoc fashion and the school would be well advised to take control of these issues itself rather than let
hearsay and opinion become what outsiders see of the school when they google!

I must point out that this forum is a completely UNOFFICIAL forum. It is regulated by several moderators each day, and we moderators DO allow as much leeway as possible.

Personally, I do have several serious issues with the way the school is currently being run, but generally speaking, I keep those issues to myself.

Any issues you may have with the way THIS forum is run would be welcome. As far as the Official school forum is concerned, that is a matter you should take up with the school authorities.
John Rutley. Prep B & Coleridge B. 1958-1963.

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Re: The Official Parents' Forum

Post by dinahcat » Wed Jun 08, 2011 5:47 pm

Antinous1 makes several points which are a little misleading, if I may be so bold.
The school communicates very well with parents about music lessons , name tapes and the like. The information is not always read properly or does not come as instantly as the parents want it to arrive. New parents are always full of questions and impatient to know how such a thing or another might be done becuase they are excited and want to get involved. I have lost count of the same questions about phones and labels and sports' kit that appear on here but I can reassure everyone that you get all the information you need. There are of course short cuts and things that turn out to seem unnecesssary and on here you can get that kind of information.The school has to produce a definitive list or items required but you can also use your common sense. This is like virtual school gate. You rarely meet other parents at the school particularly if you are not local so it is really helpful to make contact and discuss the detail of what goes in in practical terms.

I think it particularly supercillious to describe the Official Forum parents' comments as 'anodyne'.That is really quite rude and unnecessary.If they do not interest ypu then don't read them. it has been said before that the Official Forum is underused somewhat as staff with children have access to it so it isn't as closed as it appears.It is more liely however that parents don't use it as when they have a problem they phone the school amazingly enough. Maybe also as time goes on they meet other parents and develop frfeindships and talk to each other -so old fashioned I know!

Lastly ,I get very anxious about the fee conversations except the funny ones (lonelymom -I'll see you one eyeball and throw in my soul) because all the facts aren't on the table. The school can clearly no longer function as once did and that is sad in a way but it had its faults as any school does before the major reforms.It is really as simple as the reforms go ahead or the school closes which is unthinkable.Middle income families have always found it hard to afford independent education the school makes it clear that having more than one child at the school is nigh on impossible unless you are very rich or very poor whcih is terrrible if you have more that one child and want the same for both or all of them. This is where a few parents' complaints come from-having more than one child at the school. If the school takes all of you disposable income for the first child it stands to reason that you will have no more money to afford another one. The vast majority of parents seem to be paying the fees and they of course are not on here saying how happy they are with what they are getting.

Antinous1
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Re: The Official Parents' Forum

Post by Antinous1 » Wed Jun 08, 2011 7:04 pm

I agree entirely, dinahcat- the school does communicate perfectly well on the whole, and on the few occasions that I've had a query a quick phone call to the school or a chat with another parent has easily solved it. I wasn't commenting on what the school actually does though - I was commenting on what impression people may get of the school and I do think that the impression of the school you'd get, as a prospective parent, from looking over this forum is that, since as you say the same areas of questions tend to come up regularly, the school is not providing this information and that people need to ask.

I didn't mean to offend anyone over the official forum either - I guess my choice of words was wrong as I didn't realise anodyne was a particularly offensive description (someone used it of me the other day, so I assumed it wasn't too bad!). All I meant was that I found it a little lack-lustre and I wonder if that is partly because people are afraid to be too controversial on there: you get some really sparky chat on here, as you say there's plenty of humour and lots of different points of view. Also I think that the mix of prospective parents, current parents, staff and Old Blues helps to make for interesting and useful conversations, which is why I was suggesting that it might be good if part of the official forum were public.

I certainly never meant to imply either that the school has anything to do with this forum, and I worded my first sentence badly. I for one have no problem with how this one is run at all and I think discussions about the school are handled very fairly and honestly. My point was merely that there are clearly people out there wanting to ask questions about the school and occasionally to discuss problems they have with the school (mostly just to see if other people are having the same problem and if anything can be done about it, rather than to stir up trouble) and if I were the school I would want this activity to be centred around the official forum because then I could make sure that queries were accurately and 'officially' answered. It would serve a double purpose too of demonstrating to prospective parents that despite it being a boarding school there can be a 'school gate' where parents can meet and swap news and ideas. Furthermore the headmaster's latest news letter spoke of the need to involve parents in fund-raising and I think building more of an on-line community feel into the official forum would surely help with that.

JR is quite right too that discussions about the role of the official forum are probably better held there, but then it seems to have such a limited reach.

Antinous

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Re: The Official Parents' Forum

Post by pinkhebe » Wed Jun 08, 2011 8:42 pm

Without this forum, I probably wouldn't have even mentioned the school to my son, let alone applied. Reading the posts on the parents topic as well as the CH related topic showed me that the school is for 'people like us' and the OB's seem a lovely lot, who, on the whole, have had a positive experience :D

and it is, just like 'the school gate' :lol: lots of humour, shared experiences, and a good old moan :lol:

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Fairy
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Re: The Official Parents' Forum

Post by Fairy » Wed Jun 08, 2011 8:47 pm

:clap: This forum is great and have made more friends on here than I ever did at the gate :D

CHDad
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Re: The Official Parents' Forum

Post by CHDad » Wed Jun 08, 2011 9:20 pm

You will get log in details for the school forum soon, I should imagine. I have posted on the school forum in the past and received very helpful replies (as on this forum). However the school forum is only open to current parents therefore the number of people posting is obviously limited. The unofficial forum is open to anyone and therefore the wider readership ensures more posts from a more diverse group of people (current, past, future parents and OBs). I think this eclectic mix of views makes the unofficial forum interesting.

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Re: The Official Parents' Forum

Post by Fairy » Wed Jun 08, 2011 9:27 pm

Thanks Chris, helpful as ever! :D

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Re: The Official Parents' Forum

Post by lonelymom » Wed Jun 08, 2011 10:11 pm

ailurophile wrote:While checking something on the CH website this morning, I took a quick look at the Parents' Forum. This has now been available to parents for almost exactly a year, and although in format it is almost identical to the Unofficial Forum, it doesn't generate anything like the same level of activity from current parents. The statistics indicate that there are 111 members, who in the past 12 months have between them generated 43 topics with a total of 318 posts.
I think it's actually been going for nearly two years now, didn't it start in September 2009 or thereabouts? I've only ever looked at it a few times during those two years, and not at all so far this year. 318 posts in two years seems incredibly low, but I guess if any of those posts have helped a parent in some way then it has done it's job.
lonelymom :rolleyes:

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The Official Parents' Forum

Post by cupcakemom » Thu Jun 09, 2011 8:27 am

I am aware of the parents' section on the CH website. My daughters' school have a website

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The Official Parents' Forum

Post by cupcakemom » Thu Jun 09, 2011 8:39 am

Now that's what happens when I try and post from my phone ...!

What I was going to say was my daughters' school have a website but no forum ... I think that's because there are "school gates" as well as appointed parents who field information.

Having not had this forum - yes, I would have phoned the school about labels, sports kit, etc but I have welcomed the opportunity to not come across as a jumpy needy parent to the school!! There's loads if time for that!

No one is perfect and no school is either. I certainly read some posts on thus site with "child birth" in mind - ie - you only ever hear the horror stories - rarely do you hear someone say "Child birth? Oh, it was fine, rather a moving experience actually." You're more likely to hear something like "oh, my friend went in to hospital to have a baby and they took her left leg off instead." Unfortunate events, miss communication, poor policy making, etc happen in every school and every organisation. It doesn't make them less sad or avoidable though.

The fact that we invest time (rather a lot in my case) reading about memories, events, pupils, etc on this site says a lot about CH.

Please remember - this was posted from my phone - so any spelling and grammatical mistakes and punctuation crimes can't surely warrant detention, can they? Also - I did not have the benefit of a CH education!!

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Re: The Official Parents' Forum

Post by sejintenej » Thu Jun 09, 2011 8:16 pm

cupcakemom wrote:
Having not had this forum - yes, I would have phoned the school about labels, sports kit, etc but I have welcomed the opportunity to not come across as a jumpy needy parent to the school!! There's loads if time for that!
..... ie - you only ever hear the horror stories - rarely do you hear someone say "Child birth? Oh, it was fine, rather a moving experience actually." You're more likely to hear something like "oh, my friend went in to hospital to have a baby and they took her left leg off instead." Unfortunate events, miss communication, poor policy making, etc happen in every school and every organisation. It doesn't make them less sad or avoidable though.
The "Official" forum was simply mentioned here when it was started but at that time I think there were very very few current or even prospective patents posting here. Thus the "official" forum took its own course and since most of us were not eligible to join it was not mentioned. You and others have joined (and you are more than welcome) but you are mixing with a wide range of other people. Yes, there have been horror stories and some have come from me but usually there is enough information available to see that the writer is writing about antepluvian CH (i.e. before Moses built the Ark) - things do change and change radically.
cupcakemom wrote:No one is perfect and no school is either. I certainly read some posts on thus site with "child birth" in mind -
One thing I'll say about Dr Scott - he was thorough. He had me qualified (when I was about 16) to deliver a baby before I even knew how they were produced!
cupcakemom wrote:Please remember - this was posted from my phone - so any spelling and grammatical mistakes and punctuation crimes can't surely warrant detention, can they? Also - I did not have the benefit of a CH education!!
Not bad at all - a credit to wherever you went. More amazing is that you can even post from a phone - I have problems finding the keys and, as for texting, I think it must have been easier to carve the ten commandments on lumps of stone. This machine is telling me off for speeeeeling "organisation" wrong: Bill Gates has a lot to answer for.
One important question: did Yahweh have second thoughts and arrange for the first set of commandments to be destroyed so He could get it right second time around? (Answers in 72 point on the back of a used postage stamp)

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