A New Start

Challenge

How can service design contribute to better communication and collaboration between parents and teachers at an elementary school?

Mortensrud elementary school in Oslo had been facing challenges regarding communication between the school and the children’s parents. A common challenge for schools, this often results in confusion and sometimes varying degrees of parental involvement - which in turn affects the children’s learning situation.

As most children at Mortensrud are of minority background, the shool has also suffered from a reputation that doesn’t do justice to the high level of satisfaction reported by the parents and high quality of teaching.

The project ambition was to contribute to a stronger involvement of the parents, even better learning conditions for the children, and ultimately an improvement of the school’s reputation.

Process

Being a co-creative project, the team consisted of designers, two teachers and the headmaster at Mortensrud Skole.

The team gathered new insight through observation, workshops and interviews with teachers, parents and children. Throughout the process, all insights and ideas have been discussed and validated by both the project team and external stakeholders such as the school staff and FAU (parent involvement committee).

Insight was concentrated around four focus areas:
• Communicating the role of the parents’,
• ‘Improving the parent/parent relations’,
• ‘Creating more efficient means of communication’ and
• ‘Storytelling about the people at Mortensrud elementary school’

Based on the insights, a number of ideas and tools were developed and tested.

Solution

The final delivery of the project was a set of concepts, concrete tools and relevant communication material, supported by a project report with the key insights and recommendations. This tool kit enables both teachers and parents to communicate in a more user-friendly, simple and fun way.

We ‘packaged’ some of the concepts into recommended projects, to make implementation easier for the school. One of the projects named ‘Foreldrelaget’ (‘The Parent Team’) aims to improve the relationship between parents. By facilitating engaging activities for parents at the first day of school and creating ‘Buddy Families’, we create less intimidating arenas for them to get to know each other, strengthen their ‘community’ and thereby improve the learning experience for the pupils.

For more insight, check out the project blog here.

This project was done in collaboration with AHO and was partly funded by The Norwegian Design Council’s Design Pilot programme. Read more about the Design Pilot initiative at Norwegian Design Council webpages here.