Parent-teacher collaboration is both the ultimate goal and a significant challenge for many teachers and school leaders. Working together towards a child’s educational success brings huge rewards, but how can schools get parents to go beyond involvement, and generate active parental engagement?
Too often, barriers to communication such as lack of time and conflicting demands make it difficult for parents to be as involved as they would like to be. Here’s how tools like Schoolcomms can help your school to enhance parent-teacher collaboration and improve outcomes across your school.
Why is collaboration between parents and teachers important?
Research by ParentKind found that parents being actively involved in their child’s education resulted in better attendance, better behaviour at school, greater confidence and self-esteem, and more enthusiasm for learning among students. Furthermore, research from the National Child Development Study (NCDS) found that high levels of parental interest in their child’s education is linked to 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.
Clearly, fostering strong relationships between parents and teachers brings educational and emotional benefits for children, as they feel more supported in their endeavours and get more opportunities to learn. ParentKind’s research found that the three most significant barriers to parental involvement in school life are time, not being asked, and feeling unsure about what they have to offer – so how can your school overcome these barriers to reap the benefits of a fully engaged parent community?
Strategies for better parental engagement
There’s no immediate fix to improve parental involvement, but implementing long-term strategies will help to create meaningful conversations with parents about their child’s education.
Parents’ evenings are a cornerstone of parent-teacher collaboration. Making them as accessible as possible, such as by offering virtual parents’ evenings as well as in-person ones, will vastly improve your relationships with your parent community by demonstrating that you know and value their needs. This makes life easier for teachers, too, since parents can more easily fit parents’ evenings around commitments like work, and will be more willing to work collaboratively to have a productive and helpful discussion.
Encourage PTA activities
Establishing a parent-teacher association (PTA) and encouraging parents to join it goes a long way to creating a strong link between school and home, and getting more parents actively involved. The PTA is the perfect forum to hear parents’ views, ask for their opinions in decision-making, and demonstrate the action you’ve taken following discussions to build trust and a strong foundation for greater collaboration going forward.
Facilitate home learning
Most parents know that they have a huge role to play in their child’s learning, but many would appreciate being given guidance on what exactly they could be doing to have the biggest impact.
Apps like Reading Cloud help schools to make reading fun and engaging, with staff able to set reading and view pupils’ progress, and children able to write reviews of what they read and see which books their classmates have recommended.
Choose the right channels
Your communication channels must be inclusive to your whole parent community so you don’t get a skewed view of parental opinion. They need to be accessible for those who have limited use of technology (or you can help them to access it), collect feedback from parents who aren’t fluent in English, and consider the needs of parents who struggle to come to the school for any reason, which could include working patterns or disabilities.
Your channels should also enable two-way communication. Schools should ensure to make it as easy for parents to contact the school as it is the other way around. This will help foster parent-teacher collaboration and understanding, and further enable parents to be involved with their children’s education. Finally, your communications should enable messages to reach parents in a time-sensitive way, so they get plenty of notice to take action if they need to.
Using email as your primary communication channel ticks these boxes. Parents can instantly be notified when a message is received or can use a shared or public computer intermittently to check for new emails. You can also configure the email address to enable parents to reply and get answers to their queries. Be careful with your frequency of emails, though: too few, and parents won’t feel they are being kept informed, but too many will result in reduced engagement. Consider bi-weekly updates supplemented with ad-hoc communications about events, trips, and other more urgent matters – but avoid using email for real emergencies, as messages can inadvertently end up in spam or buried in busy inboxes.
You can also use text messages to communicate with parents, although this is usually best saved for emergencies as texts could lose impact and stop getting parents’ attention if you send too many. A school phone can be operated for two-way communication since messages are usually more ‘instant’ than emails, but keep in mind the financial and administrative costs of maintaining a school phone and using it to reply to messages.
A parent communication app can help you engage your whole parent community and get them working collaboratively with teachers. Here’s how.
How communication software enhances parent collaboration
Parent communication apps like Schoolcomms bring all communication between parents and teachers together into a user-friendly central platform, streamlining communication and making parental engagement easier than ever.
Through Schoolcomms messaging, you can access a digital trail of all your communications with parents. Send e-mails and text messages to individuals, groups you’ve set up, or everyone in the system at once from within the platform, to massively cut admin time, get messages out efficiently, and make big savings compared to paper-based communication.
There’s also our free in-app messaging feature, which enables instant two-way communication with parents as well as document sharing and event scheduling. You can also send notifications to parents with the smartphone app for convenient and efficient communication of urgent messages.
Ready to see how your school can activate its parent community for better parent-teacher collaboration? Read our ultimate guide to parental engagement to discover insights and strategies that you can implement right now.