Ian Shires

Liberal Democrat Councillor for Willenhall North Ward, Liberal Democrat Group Leader, Walsall MBC Learn more

Two-thirds of email newsletters sent to teachers and schools by the Department for Education are not read

by Ian Shires on 20 February, 2013

Published on Liberal Democrat Voice By  | Tue 19th February 2013 – 10:55 am

Email inbox

Only a third of emailed newsletters and circulars sent out by the Department for Education to schools and teachers are read by the recipients according to new figures I have secured following a Freedom of Information request to the Department.

In 2012 the Department sent out 148,182 such emails, with their systems recording 49,504 of them as having  been read at least once (33%).

If this was simply a cold-calling type email marketing list, then a 33% open rate would actually be quite good. However, this is very different from that – it’s official information from the relevant department to people directly affected by its activities.

Messages about how to improve outcomes for pupils eligible for free school meals, despite the obvious importance of the subject matter, only had a readership rate of 44%, whilst emails about the funding allocations for summer schools for disadvantaged pupils were read by only 37% of those who were sent these messages. That is despite in all the cases the emails not simply having gone to ‘everyone’ but being more targeted.

Who is to blame for this? If nothing else I suspect these figures are a good test of your political instincts: are you already thinking the blame lies with Michael Gove and the Department for Education for not making their messages more compelling or with the teachers who aren’t reading them in greater numbers?

Michael Gove has recently complained that,

Recently when we launched an initiative – open to every state school in the country – to enable their students to visit a top university, see for themselves how welcoming and exciting such places could be – and tempt them to apply. Only 766 schools responded. Less than a quarter of the total number of secondary schools.

He placed the blame on a “lack of ambition” from schools and teachers. Yet when so many messages his department sends out go unread, he should also take on his own share of the responsibility for that. Communications are only meaningful if they are read. On those grounds alone, could do better Mr. Gove.

Note: original post corrected as I included the wrong total for the number of emails opened. The open rate percentage was however correct (and still is).

* Mark Pack has written 101 Ways To Win An Election and produces a monthly newsletter about the Liberal Democrats.

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