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In one city in southwest Hungary, a school for both primary and secondary school children located in a segregated area of the city teaches around 100 students. The school, which has a long history in the area, was at threat of being closed for many years. Eventually, it was taken over by the Catholic Church since which time the school has improved greatly. Central to these changes has been the school’s new leadership and specifically the headteacher. Embodying the principles of compassion, empathy and a listening ear, the school understands in the importance of engaging and communicating with parents through open channels and is actively working to improve its parent-teacher relations.  

By embodying these values, the school’s headteacher is a key source of inspiration, not only for teaching staff, but the school’s network of partners. Unfortunately, many of the better off parents of local families tend to send their children to other schools, which they perceive to be better. As such, the school’s students are among those from the most disadvantaged backgrounds. Despite this, the teaching staff, led by the exemplary leadership from its headteacher, reflect a positive and upbeat approach to educating the students. Reflecting these values, the school’s teachers appreciate the importance in communicating with parents to understand the unique challenges their students may be facing. They believe that they can be empowered in their jobs with such knowledge, so that they can tailor their methods to the student concerned.  

This ethos is underlined by a commitment to working to build relations and trust with local parents. The school does this in many ways. One of the most critical is the fact that parents can reach the headteacher, anytime of night or day. Connected via messenger and mobile phone, no issue too big or small appears to phase the school’s leadership. Other important tactics the school employs are being visible at the start and end of the school day when parents come to collect their children. Other still are donation drives, parent forums, conducting family visits and hosting cultural celebrations, where students engage in song and dance and other such activities and parents are invited to attend. Moreover, the school goes above and beyond in supporting the local families of its students, and is willing to provide its support wherever possible, even if it is not strictly education related.  

In line with working to build relations and trust with local parents, since the school’s new leadership took over the school, it has taken a more proactive role in mediating between parents when problems emerge between students and their families. In the past, social workers were engaged in such issues to a further extent. Today, thanks to the school’s leadership and approach, such problems are largely dealt with within the school, without the need for external engagement. This is because the school’s leadership believes in dealing with issues as they emerge. This has also helped in building relations with supporting institutions, such as social workers, whose workload is reduced since the school is able to resolve such issues more successfully.