Improving Parental Engagement and School Communications – Our Conclusions [Parental Engagement #8]
Published on 10/04/19
Thank you for reading through our blog series – we hope you’ve found it useful and that we have provided your school with both food for thought and some practical solutions to increase your parental engagement and communication with your community.
The purpose of our research was to investigate the ways in which schools currently communicate with parents, the relevance and effectiveness of the parental engagement tools they currently use and if there are any ways in which communication can be improved to increase parental engagement.
Whilst we were unable to obtain a response from every school in the country, we are confident that the samples obtained reflect an accurate cross-section of the views of staff across the primary, secondary and independent sectors.
Every school that we surveyed uses at least one communication tool on a regular basis to increase parental engagement however there was a strong consensus amongst all sectors that additional methods or an increase in frequency or relevance of communication was required to successfully reach out to all of their parents.
As we move further into a digitally-led environment, we have seen an increasingly large push for schools to utilise digital correspondence over paper copies. The majority of schools surveyed are already using, or are looking to use, electronic methods of communication such as email, text and apps for sending messages home and relaying information. The use of social media is also on the rise, especially as a way to communicate with existing parents and market to potential parents.
The frequency of these communications has also increased, with most schools now aiming to send home information at least once a week with other information sent on a daily, monthly or ad hoc basis as appropriate.
In conclusion, our research has shown that regardless of sector, positive parental engagement within schools is vital and that improving home-school communications through the use of parental engagement tools has never been more important.
Whilst on the whole, schools are confident that their current methods and tools are engaging parents successfully, our research has shown that they are open to looking into alternative options and interested in expanding the variety of methods used to increase parental engagement.
School staff across all sectors are looking for communication systems that are easy to use and that do not overcomplicate the process, ensuring that any member of staff regardless of whether they are from a technical or non-technical background, can be in charge of the process. They are keen for all systems that they use to integrate and interact to avoid duplication of content and resource, and they are eager for any new tools to be flexible enough to tailor information to a variety of different audiences.
With school budgets ever-tightening, it is also crucial that any new investments provide high value for money and provide a long-term solution to an existing problem.
Recommendations for Further Research
Whilst our research shows a high-level overall analysis on communication tools and parental engagement, it is important to highlight that these results are based on school staff responses from a school perspective and no parental responses were collected.
To ensure that these responses can be tailored to individual schools, we would recommend schools reaching out directly to their own parent base to see which methods would work best for their particular community.
This could be done either face-to-face during an event, added as a request into an existing communication, or by sending out a specific survey. Undertaking school specific research, will give individual schools the opportunity and information to tailor their own communication processes and improve engagement in response to the comments and concerns raised by their own parent community.
If you have any questions or would like any further information on our own suite of communication tools for schools, then please don’t hesitate to check out our Connect page or contact our team today on firstname.lastname@example.org or 03453 191 039.
e4education, 2018, “Parental Engagement and Communication Survey” Survey, e4education, accessible via www.e4education.co.uk from Friday 21st September to Friday 28th September 2018 - https://www. e4education.co.uk/parental-engagement-and-communication-survey
Goodall, J and Vorhaus J, 2011, Review of best practice in parental engagement, Department for Education – gov.uk website – accessed Monday 1st October 2018 - https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/ uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/182508/DFE-RR156.pdf