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“Parents want to be more involved in their children’s learning”

January 27, 2023, 12:16 GMT+1
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“Parents want to be more involved in their children’s learning”
  • ...and finding ways to engage with them can deliver significant improvements to your pupils' outcomes, as IRIS explains...
“Parents want to be more involved in their children’s learning”

A well-established body strongly suggests that improving parent engagement can have a major positive impact on a child’s education and outcomes, equating to, on average, four months of additional progress – clearly a great starting point.

However, our recent research of 71,129 primary and secondary school parents found that 60% want to be more engaged in their children’s education.

Despite schools’ efforts to close the attainment gap, a need remains to keep parents more involved in their children’s learning.

Understanding the current education landscape

The disruption caused by the pandemic brought many parents closer to their children’s learning as adults and children worked alongside each other at home.

Since then, KS1/KS2 SAT results and phonics screening tests have shown basic numeracy and literacy skills have not returned to pre-Covid levels.

In fact, 41% of children left primary school this year without having met the expected standard in reading, writing and maths.

Additionally, as the cost-of-living crisis puts education at risk due to school funding struggles – disproportionately affecting disadvantaged pupils – the quality of schoolwork and learning is undoubtedly suffering.

Taking parents along the journey

We cannot easily reverse the impact of Covid; however, a wealth of evidence highlights the benefits of parental engagement and its effects on children – there’s always room for improvement.

Absenteeism, student confidence, grades, social skills, behaviours, and community links are all shown to improve when parents are involved in their children’s academic journey from primary to secondary school.

Indeed, our research uncovered that 65% of parents feel they are either ‘not well informed’ or ‘only informed at key points’ about their children’s academic progress.

Parents want to be more involved somehow.

This is particularly the case in secondary schools, where parents are 80% more likely to be dissatisfied with the school’s effort to engage with them.

The disparity between primary and secondary is perhaps due to parental engagement strategies usually being more effective with parents and guardians of very young children, who are often more involved in their schooling by its very nature.

Overcoming fragmented communications to improve parental engagement

Research suggests technology as a potential solution, finding parents of primary and secondary school children 2.5 times more likely to be satisfied with engagement if an app is used to communicate.

Furthermore, our research uncovered that out of those satisfied parents, 88% have a great relationship with their child’s teacher and think the school makes the best use of technology.

However, while technology may seem like the silver bullet, the big challenge for schools and trusts is the fragmented nature of applications that don’t interact with each other.

Teachers and parents both benefit massively from one centralised platform to manage all communications.

Practical tips for utilising parental engagement technology

1 | Offer a one-stop shop

The first step is to find a platform which either integrates with other providers or offers multiple modules, enabling schools to create a one-stop shop for all parents wanting to interact – covering everything from communications, newsletters and accessing reports, to paying for school uniforms and lunches.

2 | Put information at parents’ fingertips

Self-service data also goes a long way in supporting parental engagement.

With full integration between a school’s MIS and engagement app, parents can access their child’s grade sheets along with the mean average of the class, for instance. Equip parents with the information needed to make a difference.

3 | Don’t make it mobile-only

Another technology consideration is how communications are delivered – is access available through a web browser? By solely relying on mobile phones to communicate with parents, you will automatically exclude some parents who don’t have access to one.

Providing accessibility via a web browser means that even parents without a home computer can still log in and check their child’s progress.

4 | Ensure it’s accessible

Non-native English speakers and those with sight impairments also need consideration; offering alternative language and audio options is a must, helping greatly with accessibility and ensuring every parent can engage with their children’s education.

Despite ongoing economic and societal factors, there’s a real opportunity to support students by improving school-parent engagement.

With technology and communication tools, schools and trusts can help close the attainment gap for good.

Want to see all the results from our survey of 71,129 primary and secondary school parents? Download the full report here to see a clear picture of current attitudes towards parental engagement.