Page last updated at 10:50 GMT, Tuesday, 22 September 2009 11:50 UK

Parents get 'virtual school gate'

Woman using a computer
Technology is increasingly used inside and outside schools

Parents are to get access to a social networking site linked to their children's school, under a new government-backed scheme.

Acting as a virtual school gate, parents will be able to discuss their children's education and issues like bullying in the online community.

And those considering sending their child to a school could get information from parents already doing so.

Children's Secretary Ed Balls said it could boost parents' involvement.

'School hubs'

Mr Balls said: "We need to find innovative ways of involving parents in schools, particularly secondary schools.

"I like to think of it as a 'virtual school gate' - where parents can chat to each other online, find out what is happening in the schools and pass on useful information to each other."

Sally Russell, co-founder of Netmums, which is launching the site with the government said: "The Parents' Schools Network has the potential to provide a virtual means of communication for parents and secondary schools.

"Our hope is that it will become a hub for every secondary school in the UK to create a dialogue between the school and parents, and also to ensure that parents themselves are engaged in providing support for each other about schooling in the same way that thousands are already doing on a more general level in the Netmums Coffeehouse forums."

Many schools already use information technology to communicate with their parents. Some get reports and updates on their children's progress by e-mail or text.

And children are increasingly using social networking sites and messenger programmes to keep in touch with their friends.

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