Increasing Parental Engagement Within Schools [Parental Engagement #1]
Published on 20/02/19
Over the next eight weeks we will be posting the results from our Parental Engagement White Paper in bite size posts, to share our research on parental engagement and communication methods within schools.
We hope that the information we share will help your school increase your parental engagement and ensure you are using the most beneficial tools and methods to connect with your school community.
In 2011, a review of parental engagement best practice by the Department for Education found that ‘Parental Engagement has a large and positive impact on children’s learning.’ (Goodall and Vorhaus, 2011)
This study highlighted the importance of building positive parent-school communications in relation to developing the school community and how the increase in engagement had a positive bearing on pupil’s education.
We know from many conversations with our customers that implementing and encouraging successful communication with parents is vital. As the times change and we move further into the digital era, ensuring parents have full access to information about their child’s school has never been more important.
To help schools find ways to improve parental engagement, especially through home-school communication, we decided to investigate the relevance and effectiveness of parental engagement tools within schools and to research the communication methods that are currently being utilised.
Our aim was to see how schools currently communicate and if there are any ways in which methods of communication can be improved based on feedback from teachers and support staff.
As part of our research, we sent out an email to a large audience of teachers from a range of educational sectors asking them to complete our survey (e4education, 2018) on parental engagement methods.
Our Approach & Methods
Our survey was broken down in the following sections:
- Sector specific information (school type and role)
- How the school currently communicates with parents
- How the school would look to increase parental engagement in future
The breakdown of questions was set in order to target specific areas of communication and also to determine if there were any sector-specific responses.
We had an equal number of responses from Primary and Secondary schools (46% each) with a very small number of responses from Independent schools (8%). We had no responses to the survey from Special Schools or Sixth Form provisions.
Overall, the majority of responses were from Senior Leadership Roles; either from a Head or Deputy Head, or from another member of the SLT. This balance was equal across both the primary and secondary sectors. In the Independent sector, we found that all participants were either a Head or Deputy Head.
As members of SLT are traditionally in decision maker roles within school, this is helpful for our survey data. This is because school leaders are likely to have all of the information on the methods they’re currently implementing within school as well as being directly responsible for directing change.
It is also important to note that the third largest percentage of responses came from participants in IT Support / Network Manager roles. This is also an important data set as the IT team are quite often the members of staff implementing new tools and software. Their opinions can be very valuable in terms of objectively evaluating the ease of use in current methods and the future requirements that a school may need. We noticed that these roles were predominantly cross-referenced with the secondary sector, however this is not unexpected, as there is often a dedicated IT department in larger schools as opposed to one individual person within smaller schools.
Current Engagement – Is it Enough?
One of the first things we wanted to discover, as part of our research, was whether the schools we surveyed felt like they currently engage and communicate enough with their parental community.
The results of this question were quite varied across the different school sectors. 91% of primary schools surveyed felt that they currently engage and communicate enough with their parents, as opposed to 54% of secondary schools and 50% of independents. In contrast, 37% of secondary schools felt that they didn’t engage and communicate enough, as opposed to 50% of independents and only 9% of primary schools. 9% of secondary schools advised that they were unsure whether they were doing enough to engage and communicate with parents.
It is important to note that these results are based off a school-specific survey reflecting on parental engagement and communication from the school perspective and that no participants were interviewed in a parental capacity within this research.
To ensure that these views are accurately reflected by parents, we would strongly recommend that individual schools reach out to their parent base directly (either face to face during an event, added as a request for information within an existing communication or by sending out a specific survey) to ensure that this view is reflected by the parent community. This will also give individual schools the opportunity to make any required changes, and to increase or improve communications, if there are any areas of concern highlighted by their specific parent base.
In next week’s post…
Next week we will be looking at ‘Current Communication Methods Used in Schools’
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