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How to enhance parental engagement?

What do parents actually know about their child’s school?

If we look at this more closely, we can see see that for a significant proportion of parents, their experience of the school largely consists of:

  • The front entrance/car park where they drop off or pick up their child
  • Facts and figures on their child’s performance in various subjects
  • Possibly the sports field or school hall for matches or performances

… and that’s about it. Yet, the importance of parental engagement in their child’s education is recognised as a crucial factor in the child being successful at school, so how can we go about facilitating this process?

To start with, the traditional reporting cycle of two, maybe three times a year is not one that helps parents get involved positively. These reports are often sent out just before a holiday so there is no opportunity to discuss the report with the teachers concerned. Furthermore, the summative nature of these reports can create a degree of concern with some parents, which is not conducive to a constructive dialogue moving forward. If parents can get regular feedback on their child’s progress in school it is much easier to involve the parents at an early stage and so foster a collaborative ethos with the school.

However school is about far more than just lessons, homework and tests; how do we communicate all the other aspects of school life to parents. If we want parents to engage fully with our school, it is important to show them the rounded education that their children receive allowing families to talk about more than just academic results. Videos, blogs and newsletters, combined with relevant curriculum information can be presented in a format that is easy to use and will help to provide a more engaging view of the school.

Most parents lead busy lives and as such we need to make it easy for them to get hold of information from the school. Once parents are asked to trawl through documents and letters they can quickly lose interest so it’s important that information is both relevant and engaging for them. It’s also essential to ensure that this information can be viewed easily on a wide range of different platforms; if we tie parents to one location and one type of device we are putting unnecessary hurdles in the way of the parents and they are less likely to engage with the school.

Some parents are ‘hungry’ for information, particularly regarding the nature of their child’s studies. A ‘two-pronged’ approach of this is what your child is studying and this is how they are doing is a good way of helping these parents work with their child in such a way as to support what the school is doing and not confuse the child with different strategies. The ability to access the same teaching resources that a teacher is using is one way of facilitating this process; some parents will be more proactive than others, but at least in this way they are working with the school rather than alongside it.

Technology can play a crucial role in helping with parental engagement in a school, by providing a platform that can address a number of these issues. There are a variety of different approaches schools can take, but whichever they choose, they will need to consider how best to address some of the issues outlined above. The Firefly Parent Portal has been developed to enhance Parental Engagement at many different levels. If you would like to discuss it’s use further then a member of the Client Experience team will be happy to talk to you.

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