Enhancing Student Success Through Parent-Teacher Collaboration

20 Mar 2024

Effective collaboration between parents and teachers is good news for both parties and benefits children, as it has been linked to improved academic, social, and personal outcomes. Comparatively, the risks of neglecting to form strong relationships between home and school are significant, as children will experience a disconnect between the two biggest aspects of their lives which will have an impact on a student’s success. Here’s why parents and teachers working together is so important, particularly in early years and SEND education, and how schools can foster collaborative, productive relationships with parents and carers.

The importance of parents and teachers working together

Parents and teachers working collaboratively have been shown to result in better attendance and behaviour, improved confidence and self-esteem, and more enthusiasm for learning among students. The National Child Development Study (NCDS) found that high levels of parental interest in their child’s education are linked to enhanced student success. The study observed better exam results, and children with very interested parents progress, on average, 15-17% more in maths and reading between the ages of 11 and 16.

And it’s not just the students who benefit. Education Scotland highlights that from the parents’ perspective, being more involved means they gain a better understanding of their children’s education, feel reassured that they are receiving quality teaching, and can access peer support from other parents to boost their confidence in supporting their child.

Nurturing a strong parent-teacher relationship

To build and maintain strong relationships between school and home, you need to understand who your parent community is. Thorough knowledge of what they do, what barriers they face, and what their needs are enables schools to communicate with parents in a way they will respond to. Parental engagement questionnaires are a great way to find out more about your parent community and what they want to see from your school.

Regularly collecting views and opinions from parents through questionnaires or parent-teacher association (PTA) meetings is central to strong collaboration between school and home. Enabling plenty of opportunities for effective two-way communication and using the right communication channels to engage all of your school’s parents is another cornerstone of enhancing student success through parent-teacher collaboration.

Parent-teacher partnership in early childhood education

Encouraging and helping children to be curious, learn, and develop in their early childhood helps them hit the ground running in school. Research by the OECD emphasises the importance of the home learning environment (HLE) in infanthood: children with parents who were the least involved in the HLE when the child was aged 10 to 36 months scored less on cognitive tests later in life than children whose parents were positively involved in the HLE.

Reading at home is a fun and effective way for parents to support their child’s early education. The OECD cites a US study wherein three- and four-year-olds who were frequently read to and told stories at home were more likely to show early signs of literacy like recognising all the letters of the alphabet, writing their own names, and reading.

Early childhood education isn’t just about student’s success in school, though. In fact, the most important way in which parents can prepare their children to start school is to build their confidence and independence. Children are ready for school when they have good social skills and emotional regulation to cope with being away from home, independence in personal care like washing their hands and changing their clothes, and plenty of curiosity to explore new environments and meet new people.

Early years settings can foster a strong parent-teacher partnership simply by involving their parent community as much as possible. This can be by making time to chat with parents one-on-one or sending them videos every day to let them know how their child is getting on. Or, early years providers can go a step further and invite parents to come on trips with the group, or host workshops about different areas of learning to demonstrate how parents can support their child’s learning at home. Whichever strategy works best for your early years setting, the most important way to develop relationships between school and home is sharing information and using it as a way to spark up a two-way dialogue to enable parents and carers to be involved.

Parent-teacher collaboration in special education

Parental involvement is critical in special needs education. Parents and carers have a unique and valuable understanding of their children which is especially important in SEND education, as their insights help school staff to learn what the individual child responds to and the best ways to interact with them. The National Council for Special Education also identified that parental engagement is enhanced when parents and carers are regularly consulted in relation to their child’s needs and support mechanisms, and given frequent updates on how they are progressing, demonstrating that close collaboration between home and school benefits both parties and enhances student success as well.

Regular consultations between special education settings and parents or carers allow for the collaborative development of goals for each child over a period of time. These meetings should ideally be termly, or even half-termly, to ensure they are regularly reviewed and can be amended if needed, with opportunities for discussion between meetings to evaluate progress. Setting goals in this way helps every child to receive individualised support, both at school and at home, to overcome the aspects of daily life that they find most challenging.

Schools should also ensure parents are at least consulted, but involved as much as possible, in the development and reviewing of policies regarding SEND education, to ensure the policies meet the needs of the community the school serves.

Interested to know more about engaging your parent community and developing productive, collaborative relationships with them? Our Ultimate Guide to Parental Engagement is your step-by-step guide to improving and maximising parental engagement at your school, including how you can use premium parental engagement software like Schoolcomms to take your communication to the next level.

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