Schoolcomms

Parental Engagement: Strategies for Success

Time to read: 7min 31 Aug 2022
[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]According to a ParentKind survey, only 57% of parents are satisfied with the opportunities to get involved in their child’s school. That’s a lot of parents. This raises the question: could schools be doing more to bridge the gap? With parental engagement proven to have a positive effect on academic achievement, it’s clear that investing in long-term strategies is crucial. The benefits of parental engagement are huge. They're not only reflected in the classroom but also Ofsted inspections, with Ofsted continuing to show an interest in how schools involve parents in their children's learning. Ofsted is encouraging schools to capitalise on the vast swaths of technology available. Technology that can ease admin headaches, save money, and improve parental engagement through increased involvement. But with ever-shrinking budgets and heavy workloads to contend with, how can schools improve parental engagement? Well, here's the deal - connecting with parents needn't break the bank nor add to teachers' workloads. With this in mind, we've compiled a list of simple and affordable parental engagement strategies for improving parental involvement in their child's learning.

An 8-step plan for improving parental engagement in schools

1. Conduct surveys to encourage parental involvement

Only 3 in 10 parents feel their voices are listened to at MAT, Local Authority, and Government level. Evidently, parents need a greater platform to express their opinions, and surveys can help give them a voice. Surveys are an invaluable tool. They not only help you determine the success of recent initiatives but can also drive improvements. Additionally, they can be key to bridging the gap between parents and the governing board. This creates a win-win situation which sees parents both add value and feel valued. Better still, surveys needn’t be a drain on resources. With free online survey tools like SurveyMonkey, you can set up a survey in minutes. And no need to collate responses – get quick insights with automatic charts and summaries. Aim to promote your survey as far and wide as possible to ensure a high response rate. This could be through the school website, newsletters, blog posts, or social media.

2. Invest in a parental engagement app

Good communication is the key to improving parental engagement in schools. But parent-school communications can be costly. It also comes in many forms, often requiring many methods and systems. This can confuse staff and parents. A simpler way to keep parents engaged in learning is through a parental engagement app. With an app, you can connect with parents in real-time via a single login. The result? Parents gain instant access to their child's life at school - anytime, anywhere, in a matter of seconds. Tools such as Schoolcomms’ Parent App are designed to simplify parent communication to improve engagement. And it needn't cost a thing. With free two-way app messaging and Online Reporting on offer, your school can enjoy massive cost-savings, simply by going paperless. With apps like School Gateway, you can share free school resources, reports, homework, news, timetables, online consent forms, and surveys with parents directly to their smartphones. This can transform the way you communicate with parents and carers. This small effort can make a huge difference to levels of parental engagement, especially with hard-to-reach parents. In short: a specialist parental engagement app can not only save you time but money too. And with parents receiving updates on their child's progress in real-time, everyone is a winner!

3. Optimise your school website

Websites, while often overlooked, provide a simple but effective means of encouraging parent involvement, leading to improved parental engagement in schools. The school website can offer a wealth of information on how parents can get involved with your school. You could use your site to host parent surveys, guides on how best to improve pupil achievement, or even blog posts detailing new initiatives. What's more, many parents are unclear on who their governors are and what they do. To help combat this, your website can provide a wealth of information on the governing board. This way, parents can feel more connected with those who are responsible for acting in their best interests.

4. Use social media to improve parent communication

Social media enables your school to engage with parents via digestible updates posted in real time. Using social media alongside more traditional methods of parent communication can strengthen your parental engagement strategies. And some parents might even prefer to receive updates via social media. This means your school could be missing a trick if you aren't using social media to communicate important information. Popular channels like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram provide excellent ways to connect parents to your school’s website. You also have the option to schedule posts in advance, freeing up valuable admin time. Free social media management tools like Hootsuite and TweetDeck can help with this. Your school can also use social media to enhance its reputation. To do this, start sharing the positive outcomes of any recent initiatives, strategies, or reports. This will enable parents and the wider public to share in your school’s success, staying up to speed with any new developments. Additionally, social media can help boost your school’s fundraising efforts. Let parents know which charities you’re supporting and where and how they can donate. Don't forget, not all parents will be active on social media, so be sure to adopt additional methods of communication. This can include but is not limited to newsletters, parents’ evenings, and meetings. And this leads us nicely onto our next point...

5. Make meetings accessible

Usually held twice a year, parents’ evenings provide a perfect opportunity for parents to discuss their child’s progress. But with parents usually required to attend in person, inevitably not everyone can make it. Whether balancing work commitments, childcare, or family life, parents can struggle to find a time to suit their busy schedules. In an ideal world, no parent should have to miss out. Wouldn’t it be great if parents could attend from home or on the go? Well, thanks to the wonders of modern-day technology, they can. To prevent families from opting out, why not host your parents’ evenings and review meetings online. With tools such as SchoolCloud Parents evening, parents and teachers can meet virtually via securely encrypted video calls. And with parents able to book online, the process is quick, simple and convenient. There’s no doubt your parents will appreciate having that extra flexibility, and this will help improve turnout on the evening.

6. Send newsletters

One of the biggest barriers to parental engagement is that parents are so busy they don’t have a chance to see what’s on. One of the simplest ways to combat this is to communicate important updates in one go. A quick and easy solution? Newsletters. School newsletters can shine a light on all the great things that are happening at your school, helping to bridge the parent-school communication gap. At first, this can seem like a lot of effort. But it needn’t be a drain on resources. Create a newsletter template to save on time and recycle as often as you need. Canva has lots of great templates to help with this. And why not share the work with students? You could include pieces of their work, dates for the diary, or even useful materials and resources to support their child’s learning at home.

7. Provide volunteering opportunities

Providing varied volunteering opportunities can break down barriers, helping to bridge the communication gap between your school and home and increased promoting parental involvement. Volunteering - through Parent Teacher Associations (PTA) or participating in projects at school - can build up valuable networks, drawing in otherwise hard-to-reach parents. Providing a variety of school activities is key. This allows all parents to play a part - no matter their background, availability, or own academic abilities. There are many ways you can get parents involved. This can include painting classrooms, improving the school garden, assisting in after-school clubs, or joining the parent council. PTAs play a vital role in supporting parental involvement. They provide a perfect opportunity for teachers and parents to exchange views, share ideas, and develop mutual trust. Getting people to join a PTA can be daunting - everyone's time is precious after all. But teachers and parents can get involved, even if they only have a limited amount of time available.

8. Nominate a parent engagement champion

Assign a member of staff as a parent engagement champion, or even recruit for the position. The person fulfilling this role will work with parents and students to help remove barriers to learning. It will be their job to implement new ideas, developing an engagement plan to help your school track progress. They can also play a lead role in reviewing existing strategies, identifying ways to help create a positive home learning environment. In summary, parents are the most important partner a teacher can have. And your school can reap large dividends by getting parents involved in their children’s education. Success doesn’t happen overnight. But there are simple steps you can take to improve your parental engagement. And these don’t need to be time-consuming or costly. Download our free 8-step checklist to get started today. Download your free 8 step checklist[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]
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