Parents are often a school’s greatest untapped resource. They may only physically enter the classroom a handful of times, but their role in shaping a child’s education beyond the school gates is crucial. Young people spend about 85% of their waking hours outside of school and formal education, so parents who actively support learning can help to join the dots between home and school and put their child on a fast track to educational success.
The positive link between parental engagement and academic attainment has been proven. Joint research by the Universities of Plymouth and Exeter and the Education Endowment Foundation (EEF) finds that parental engagement and strong home-school partnerships are key predictors of achievement – and the scale of the impact is found across all ages and social classes.
When parents and schools work well together, pupil outcomes are transformed. But as schools strive to increase parental engagement, some are overlooking a crucial first step. How can every parent connect with and be engaged with their child’s schooling if the systems used by the school fail to reach the parent?
Rules of engagement
Parents need to be reached to be engaged. Simple in theory – often a challenge in practice. Life is busy and stressful, and barriers like time, work commitments, and caring responsibilities for other family members can widen the gap between home and school. Throw the complexity and noise of today’s multichannel age into the mix, and the challenges multiply. How can you be sure that important email home has even been opened, let alone read and understood?
Schools are also stretched for time and resources. The headache of chasing forms and keeping up with a range of disparate communication channels can detract from developing meaningful relationships with parents. Parent-school bonds should be built on a strong foundation of two-way communication and mutual trust – not crossed wires and missed connections.
Then there are the parents traditionally deemed ‘hard to reach’. Perhaps they don’t know the best way to communicate with the school due to cultural or language barriers, or they may have negative associations from their own time in formal education. It’s important to remember that a lot of parental involvement in their child’s education goes unseen in the home, as it doesn’t tick the boxes of conventional parental engagement. To close the gap and strengthen existing home efforts, schools need to take steps to reach and engage the parent at their point of need, taking into account the many challenges and preferences that make families unique.
Most parents want more involvement in their child’s school life. We also know how important parental engagement is for children’s attainment and wellbeing. Now, schools need to connect the dots and help parents feel valued and connected to the school at every stage. This can only be done by reaching every parent where they are.
Weduc empowers schools to reach more parents than any other system. The Reach More Parents platform brings all engagement systems into one easy-to-use school communications app, reaching every parent with multiple communications options at the touch of a button. This allows parents to access everything in one place, from key school information and unlimited two-way messaging to home learning resources.
‘Smart messaging’ automatically directs school communications to where parents will get them – at any time and any place. Schools can track parental responses and retarget the hardest-to-reach parents, engaging families in school life through personalised messaging and an intuitive, social media-style newsfeed. In this trusted, safe, and simplified environment, parents can connect and engage with the school in a way that fits around their preferences and individual circumstances – and there are also a range of language translations available to cater for schools’ diverse intakes.
When parents are reached, children are reached. To discover more about how Weduc reaches and engages more parents than any other system, click here.