About half a year ago the very first version of MaxClass (social network / communication platform for education) went live. MaxClass was the result of a team working for nearly a year to build a tool that will help teachers, parents and pupils communicate with each other.
It's free (though recently some additional licenses have been added) and online so pretty easy to use. I would love to hear what you think about the idea or the platform itself. You can easily make a test account by adding a test class to the test school or go ahead and add your school to the long list fo schools already in MaxClass. www.maxclass.com
Hi Katie, Once you've made an account you can add a class to a school. You can try it out by searching for test school and then adding a class. Or you can add a real or virtual school and start adding classes to that.
Once you've got a class you can invite people. There's a video on that in the Help section (either adding them, passing out paper invitations, or importing them from a CSV).
The group can be students and a teacher or parents and a teacher or all of them together. Once thery are in they can use a wall, messaging (mail parents all at the same time for one or several classes), forums, photo-sharing etc etc. The whole idea is that you have the roles you need in school and it's a private social network but apart from that it's just as good as the major social networks.
Good luck with it and let me know. (there's a tour here: http://www.maxclass.com/demo)