Although educators understandably focus on the impact that they have within the classroom, it is essential to also think about what happens at home too. After all, according to research, 80% of a child’s learning happens outside of school, in the child’s home and broader community. As a result, it’s clear that parental engagement plays a significant part in a child’s educational development. So, how can schools engage and support parents to work collaboratively towards the common goal of children achieving their social and academic potential?
- Create a clear plan for engaging with parents
A recent survey by the University of Exeter revealed that only 36% of parents felt that they were provided with sufficient guidance to help with their child’s education. Head teachers may benefit from asking themselves if they have a clear and detailed approach for working alongside parents, which involves understanding both the families and the wider communities. Ensuring effective communication is key here – and technology may provide solutions to unanswered phone calls and emails. For example, if parents’ evenings are held in the evenings and finish late, they are likely to be impractical for parents who work shifts or rely on public transport to get home. It is there worth asking yourself if your data system tells you information such as parental working schedules and travel arrangements. The use of online meetings may support some parents to attend parents’ evenings virtually and improve engagement.
- Record interactions and interventions
With workloads for educators already heavy, schools need simple solutions to engage and support parents. Once again, technology such as school apps can help, to improve communication between school and home, in addition to streamlining educators’ workloads. Such apps can create a clear and detailed audit trail of when messages were sent, delivered and received, so they are easy to record and reference. Cross-referencing communication data with other gathered information such as attendance statistics and academic results is also simpler as a result, which may help educators gain insight in the child’s holistic background, which in turn provides them with the opportunity to create a more individual and tailored learning journey for the child. Schools should pay particular attention to those parents who are not successfully engaging with app messaging. Is this due to a lack of technical expertise or a language barrier for example.
- Evidence safeguarding measures to gain parental trust
Ensuring effective and vigorous safeguarding strategies is essential for any school, but it also has the additional benefit of demonstrating to parents that school is a place they can trust in and collaborate with. According to schools, one of the fundamental hurdles to parental engagement is the negative experiences felt by parents in their own education. One key step in breaking down this barrier is highlighting how children are in safe hands and that their wellbeing is of paramount importance – a factor which is especially important when alleviating parents’ anxiety regarding Covid. Therefore, by recording all safeguarding related information and ensuring risk assessments and policies are available for parents to access, you can help parents see that their child’s happiness and health is at the forefront of the school’s operations.
It is critical to remember that schools and parent’s want the same thing – the best for the child or young person in their care. Demonstrating that the school understands and values the child as an individual, and is willing to take the time to listen and appreciate the viewpoint of the parents, is essential in creating a strong relationship between families and school staff, which in turn supports teaching, learning and behaviour in school.