Ofsted's tips for better parental engagement

Friday, 16 February 2024 by Weduc

Ofsted know that improving parental engagement will raise students' achievement - so they shared some best practice they have seen in schools.

We've taken another look at what they discovered and summarised it for you...

Why does parental engagement matter to Ofsted?

The new Ofsted framework specifically mentions engagement under the key judgement of 'Leadership and Management':

"Inspectors will make a judgement on the effectiveness of leadership and management by evaluating the extent to which leaders engage effectively with learners and others in their community, including – where relevant – parents, carers, employers and local services...engagement opportunities are focused and have purpose."

Previous publications from Ofsted highlighted that:

"Parental engagement can be a powerful lever for raising achievement in schools and there is much research to show the value of schools and parents working together to support pupils’ learning. Schools have been encouraged to shift from simply involving parents with the school to enabling them to engage themselves more directly with their children’s learning."

So it's no surprise that they brought together the best practice that they witnessed.

How did Ofsted investigate this?

Ofsted inspectors visited 47 schools to evaluate how effectively the partnership between parents and schools had developed. The schools varied in size, geographical location and socio-economic circumstances. Inspectors also drew on other sources, which included organisations working with parents and parents’ groups, and evidence that Ofsted already held, such as data from its parents’ panel and school inspections.

What were their key findings?

Ofsted stated that in terms of good parental engagement:
  • All the schools visited valued the key role of parents in their children’s education but put this into effect in different ways, with very varied quality and outcomes.

  • In the best cases seen, joint working between the home and the school led to much better outcomes for pupils; in particular, this helped pupils with special educational needs and/or disabilities, those with low attendance or who were potentially vulnerable in other ways.

  • All the schools visited were using, or experimenting with, new technology in their communications with parents. Such work complemented more traditional methods such as face-to-face meetings and paper-based communication.

  • Seven of the 47 schools visited had parent councils or forums. These provided helpful routes for parents to raise issues or contribute to policy development on the initiative of the school but such councils did not represent all parents fully.

  • In the best practice, complaints were used as an opportunity to improve services and understand better the wishes and views of parents. These schools had clear, straightforward complaint procedures that were well-known to staff and parents.

  • In the few cases seen where the schools said that parents had contributed or initiated ideas for strategic improvement, and these ideas had been taken forward, they had been successful.

  • Although parents often worked helpfully alongside staff (especially in the primary schools visited), the various skills, qualifications, experience and insights of parents were underused to enhance the schools’ provision and curriculum.

  • The school’s evaluation of the impact of their work with parents was poor.

  • Home–school agreements had a low profile and their impact on the day-to-day work between parents and the schools was very limited.

What were their recommendations?

Ofsted recommended that schools should:

  • Consider auditing, and then using more widely, parents’ skills and specific expertise as a resource to improve the school.

  • Tailor their communications with parents to suit individual circumstances.

  • Use parental complaints as a stimulus for improvement and record them to identify trends.

  • Evaluate better the impact of parental involvement and engagement on outcomes for pupils and use this information to focus further improvements.

  • In the secondary sector particularly, enable parents to engage themselves more directly with their children’s learning.

Need help with parental engagement?

At Weduc we have a team of education and engagement tech specialists. We know schools and we know what works in terms of building effective relationships with parents. 

You can download our free guide on how to audit your parental communications - so you can start planning now.

Or if you want to find out more about how our communications platform and parent app could help your school, book in for a chat with one of our colleagues here. Or call us on 01509 221 349.

Or follow the links if you just want to find out more about what we do for:

Start reaching more parents today