Making parental engagement work

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The Guardian Teacher Network online discussion about parental engagement identified a range of themes and concerns.

It was clear that parental engagement was regarded as a significant contributor to pupil progress but concerns were raised about how to achieve that connection. The value of a seamless relationship with the school’s pastoral staff and the use of digital technology were both explored as strategies of develop effective parental engagement.

Simon Feasey identified lessons that can be acquired from international comparison.'Rather than schools reaching out... an area of interest to explore might be how school and community come together. A different context to most of our UK schools but research carried out in the US by Anthony Bryk and Barbarar Schneider is illuminating. Post decentralisation, the Chicago School Reform Act instigated a situation where Local School Councils were formed - each consisting of 6 parents, 2 community members, 2 teachers, the principle + in high schools, one student. Within that arena Bryk and Schneider carried out a longitudinal study focusing on the social ties between school and community, culminating in their conceptualising of relational trust, its enhancement and its importance in improving schools’

The importance of enquiry in order to achieve the most flexible and sustainable fit for parental engagement was reinforced by Ben Culverhouse, ‘Lots of parents out there already do that, although admittedly we could always do with more. Those that support work in the classrooms and come along on school trips are invaluable, as long as they're reliable. I'm keen to get parents in to talk about their careers as I think it's important stuff for kids to hear first hand - not just hear about what their own parents do for a living.’

 Jane Goodall’s comment acted as a timely reminder that not seeing a parent in school does not equate to them being disengaged. ‘One thing I don't want us to lose sight of is the importance of parental engagement in *children's learning* - which can be built on engagement with the school, but can also happen even if the parent never comes to school. Too often, I think, we assume that if schools don't see parents, they aren't engaged - and that's just not always the case.’

You can read the full discussion at The Guardian Teacher Network.

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