One area which has been a challenge for our school, and indeed many, is how do we effectively engage parents and carers in their child’s education?
Past experiences often form our opinions in life. For many adults, school wasn’t a pleasant experience, meaning that they are less likely to engage in their child’s education.
Also, with the current climate of social distancing, parental engagement has never been more challenging. Our school ethos at Heronswood is to give children a genuine, emotional connection with their learning because then they will achieve the highest standards.
Fundamental to this is useful and meaningful engagement with the parents and carers of our 410 pupils, helping them work together with our teachers to ensure that every child, in every class, reaches their full potential.
Transforming how we communicate
Nowadays, parent communication is more than comments and marks in a school report and a once a year report evening. A key area of focus at our school this year was improving parental engagement. We wanted every child’s parent or carer to be aware of what was happening in the classroom; to understand what the pupils were learning, why it was necessary and to share in their achievements.
But, with a high percentage of parents with English as an additional language, communications have proved tricky as they had little understanding of what was happening in the classroom and what learning their child was taking part in.
Parental communication and student success
For Heronswood, EdTech has undoubtedly helped. We’ve gone from communicating to 70 per cent of our families to 100 per cent of parents and carers. We’ve also received thousands of positive virtual ‘high-fives’, showing that they are engaged in their child’s learning in school.
Parental engagement can have such a positive impact on a child’s education, and Heronswood is on a mission to ensure that every child goes home each day to parents or carers who are aware of what they had been working on in class and their achievements.
Parents need messages of reassurance to home if a child is finding something tricky or, perhaps, they would like homework reminders. We knew the best way to close the engagement gap is to improve parental communications, and here are my top tips to help:
- Break down barriers by using a familiar format such as mobile comms.
- Pick a format which is easily accessible for parents.
- Share positive news, not just the dreaded ‘phone call home.’
- Put the onus on teachers to communicate with parents. about daily events and rewards.
- Involve parents in the decision process of how you communicate, what do they think of it?
- Ask parents for feedback regularly, know what’s working and what isn’t.
Reducing teacher workload
As any teacher knows, school life is hectic with minimal hours in the day. Throw in the pandemic and teachers are stretched to their limits. With the EdTech platform, our teachers are benefitting from no more writing ‘please remember to read for 20 minutes’ in 30 home school diaries. Now, teachers can say, today we read Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, please ask your child about the characters, or your child should read for ten minutes today.
They can easily and quickly send through the reward badges to parents and carers, it saves so much time. Looking ahead, I can’t see that we’ll ever go back to traditional methods if we want to ensure effective communications with parents and carers, reduce the number of hours that teachers spend on admin and, in turn, ensure that every child reaches their full learning potential.
Rhoda Pierpoint is head teacher of Heronswood Primary School and pre-School, part of Rivers C of E Academy Trust in Worcestershire. The school uses http://www.marvellousme.com/ to improve parental engagement