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the Lewisham community which has become a wonderful advert for the school. Although I mentioned our main followers are parents, our objective

is to get more parents on board. Taking advantage of Twitter as a tool to communicate with parents in terms of school closures and parents’ evenings would be ideal but only works if we have the majority connected and reading the messages. Currently it is an excellent way to communicate and consolidate information sent out but you can never guarantee that all parents will see our messages through Twitter. Managing student access to the social media pages is something that

all schools must consider carefully. Do you want your students tweeting on the school’s social media pages? We made the decision that our students can go onto our site and re-tweet but they do not have access to send tweets from the St Matthew account. I am the “voice” behind the St Matthew Twitter account and am somewhat of an enigma to

Top tips for Twitter

n When setting up your profile, make it personal to your school. Include a picture and description, and a link to a blog if you have one as people are more likely to follow you when you can put a logo to a name.

n Use TweetDeck to see all comments that are made about your school. Whether negative or positive it is invaluable to know what your community’s views are and it gives you the opportunity to respond.

n Give it time. It can take a while to track down the people or information most relevant to you.

n Encourage your parents to join the conversation by ensuring your Twitter and Facebook details are on the bottom of your headed paper, website and any other communication material that goes out to parents.

n Use hashtags (#) to help focus your tweet streams, follow thoughts or events.

n Find someone who you think tweets particularly good ideas. Then see who they follow for inspiration.

n Do not be scared to be conversational – twitter does not have to be about work all the time.

n Images go down well – give it a go.

n Remember to bear in mind that unless your settings are changed to private, anyone can see what you tweet.

Top tips for Facebook

n Images and videos are very effective tools on Facebook – this is important when you consider that a great deal of primary level education is visually focused. Therefore do not be afraid to use as many images and upload as many pictures as possible.

n Friend or group lists can be easily created to enable work and personal lives to be separated.

n Facebook ‘questions’ can be used to garner opinion on topical issues. The more these are voted on, the more they are accessible by wider networks of friends.

n If you receive a comment or reply to a post, make sure you are quick to respond, or at least just say thank you for their comment.

n Social media may seem like hard work at the beginning (setting up profiles, finding the right people and developing contacts) but it becomes very efficient and effective very quickly. Recruiting a company that has experience in this area is a good idea, or reading up on social media websites like can be helpful.

n For many, it opens the door to a wider world and a local community, providing support and inspiration that benefits your school and students.

everyone – I think the students know it is me who tweets but that is not important – it is, for us, a professional site, not a personal one.

Facebook For us, the objective of Facebook is to keep a permanent record of our achievements in the form of pictures, while Twitter is used as an immediate communication tool – like a rolling blog. We set up our Facebook page in January 2011 and we post pictures, talk about any unusual visitors we have had to the school, and mention sports days or great things pupils have done in and around the school.

“Managing student access to the social

media pages is something that all schools must consider carefully.”

For example: “As part of the Cabrini Children’s Society Good

Shepherd Appeal 2011, children were asked to write a story about Sam the Sheep (the appeal mascot) for a competition. Hannah Hague from year 1 was chosen as the runner up in the reception, year 1 and year 2 age group. Many congratulations to Hannah who was presented with a certificate and Sam the Sheep pin badge.” We currently have 50 fans, but lots more people visit the page who are

not classed as fans, because they have not clicked on the “like” button to subscribe. Constantly promoting this like button is a top tip, as once someone likes your page, they receive all of your updates straight to their personal news feed. Facebook is more flexible than Twitter and pages are customisable;

there is a larger character limit for posts while videos and images are more accessible and effective. It can be used as a great space to share information between the school and your audiences, and for your audiences to share with each other. As much as Facebook is well suited to sharing, we do have to make

sure we are aware of all the possible implications. For example, Facebook photos can be tagged, and so we have to make sure it is constantly monitored for this. Children under 13 may come across the page but we stress that they cannot get involved because by law they should not have a Facebook page. An important thing for teachers to consider at all times, with regard

to Facebook, is what their Facebook page looks like to someone else. Facebook has a facility to allow you to see the page as a visitor and check what can be seen. Teachers need to consider if they are to allow parents and students to be friends, and correctly set the privacy settings on their own personal accounts. It is my view that teachers should never use their personal accounts to become friends with parents or students.

• David Cregan is vice principal of St Matthew Academy in Lewisham. They had help from PR agency Mango Marketing to advise them on social networking.


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