The value of a school communication plan extends well beyond day-to-day operations and announcements. To help you simplify the process, we’ve compiled expert advice and helpful resources on the tools, processes, and strategic approach that will help you get the most from a school communication plan. In this article, we’ll review exactly what a communication plan is, why they’re a critical administrative priority, and how to produce the right plan for your school.
What is a School Communication Plan?
A school communication plan is an authoritative guiding document that outlines the mission, goals, strategy, and tactics of internal and external communication channels for all relevant school departments. The purpose of a school communication plan is to support the overall mission of the educational organization. Supporting this mission might include reinforcing aspects of the school’s vision and growth efforts to relevant stakeholders.
A comprehensive school communication plan will outline a regular cadence of outward-facing and internal communication channels and approaches designed to keep students, staff and parents connected and informed. Additionally, communication plans should define who is responsible for implementation throughout the school, and investments that will likely be made as part of the plan’s execution.
When is the Best Time to Create a Communication Plan?
The start of a new school year is undoubtedly the best time to have a great school communication plan in place. However, we recommend that the best time to start thinking about your 2023 plan is actually during the Fall semester. Why? Two reasons:
First, this plan is perhaps the most representative of your school's brand, which means it requires an above-average level of commitment (read "time-consuming!") to get all the details just right.
Secondly, just like the adoption of new technology, the adoption of new policies and procedures only works when you give yourself the time and space to get staff buy-in.
The Benefits of Developing a School Communication Plan
There are numerous advantages to creating or improving a school communication plan and increasing the channels through which parents, students, and community members can be reached. The top advantages include:
- Effective community-building by telling the school’s story, vision, mission, and successes.
- Increase staff cohesion through shared communication channels.
- Enhance parent relationships with the school by sharing important announcements on multiple channels and making information easy to access.
- Promote student involvement and awareness.
- Preserve student and staff health and safety with incident response initiatives.
- Raise awareness of pertinent or important external events.
How to Determine if Your School Should Develop a Communication Plan
Unsure if your school should prioritize developing a communication plan as you look ahead to 2023? Here are a few questions to help evaluate if your school or district is in need of a new or overhauled approach:
- Do you have formal procedures for disseminating important information?
- Do you have a protocol for managing internal and external communication during a crisis or unplanned event?
- Can students, staff, parents, and community members be reached through multiple communication channels?
- Do you have goals and supporting tactics specifically for increasing employee and student engagement?
- Do people generally know where to go to find the information they need?
Answering questions like those listed above will help you understand the state of both internal and external communication practices at your school.
The answer will likely be clear: it’s time to create an effective and comprehensive new school communication.
Read our next article on how to build a school communication plan for specific steps that you and your team can take to pull together the required technology, processes, and strategic plan for a successful communication plan.