There is an old saying - it takes a village to raise a child, and in much the same way, it takes a community to make a school.
Successful schools understand that learning is a team effort. They recognise that they need to engage their whole community if they want every child to have the best learning experience. The role of parents within this community has changed over the years, and the importance of parent engagement is well documented.
However, it is not always clear how to bring about successful parent engagement. Much of this is due to the fact that every school is different, whether that is the community they serve, the age range of the pupils, or the sector they are part of. Nevertheless, schools can still learn from each other and this is particularly important in the digital world that we find ourselves in. With this in mind, we commissioned a piece of research to dig deeper into the challenges that schools face in engaging with parents, and to highlight and share some of the most effective practices. Some of the key findings are outlined below:
- The importance of personalised communication
Schools are generally good at communicating with parents at a whole-school level, but it was clear from the report that what parents really valued was information specific to their child, particularly when it came to their learning. With less than half of parents reporting having access to their child’s homework, or how their child was progressing on a regular basis, there is still work to be done in this area.
- Parents and teachers have different views on how well the school is helping parents
Parents were overwhelmingly positive about their child’s school with 83% stating that the school either met or exceeded their expectations. However, this contrasted sharply with only 67% of teachers agreeing. This may reflect a greater awareness on the part of teachers on what they could be doing to support parents, if they had the right tools.
- The use of technology to support parent engagement continues to grow
This is perhaps unsurprising in light of the last 18 months, but it does show that schools and parents are embracing the possibilities that technology has to offer. As a result of this, it was clear that technology needed to be easy to use, but also that schools had to be mindful of the access children have to technology at home.
- Frequency of communication between schools and parents presents a mixed picture
Regular communications is an important change parents want schools to make to help improve schools communications about their child’s learning. Worryingly, over a third of parents reported only receiving information on a termly, or half termly basis, giving them little opportunity to address ongoing issues and support their children in a timely manner.
- Parents want to support their child at home
Whilst the majority of parents felt able to support their child’s learning at home, there was still a significant number, (20%) who felt that they needed more help. This group is likely to be those families from less affluent backgrounds and as such the need to support them effectively is even more urgent.
- Parent voice helps to inform school strategy in many but not all schools
Parent groups form a vital connection between school strategy, parental engagement and children’s learning. However, 40% of teachers were unsure as to how much of an impact parent voice has in helping to develop school strategy. If parents are to be engaged in the learning process there is a clear need for them to feel valued and able to make a contribution to the way a school operates.
Whilst the report highlights that there are things that we can all do to improve the way schools and families work together, there were also many examples of good practice, and most encouragingly a real determination amongst all parties to get it right. Find out:
- The data and statistics behind our research
- Detailed insights into the experiences of parents and teachers
- What parents need from schools to help them support their child’s learning
- How schools are finding ways to engage their parents more effectively
We have been able to pull together many ideas and strategies from schools that we have spoken to so that we all have an opportunity to reflect on how we support parents effectively, engage them in the learning process and ultimately ensure that our students have the best opportunities made available to them.
Download this essential report today and see what your school could be doing to better meet the needs of parents, and help them support their children more effectively.