The importance of family engagement in education

Thursday, 28 March 2024 by Weduc

Bridging the gap: The importance of family engagement in schools

According to Huw Lewis, Welsh Minister for Education and Skills, “Families exert a powerful influence on how children get on at school. Schools that are both ambitious and successful recognise that to raise standards and improve learner well-being they need to engage effectively with parents, carers and the wider community.”

Indeed, the benefits of family engagement in a child’s education are significant and have been well proven by considerable research. So, keep reading to find out all about family engagement, its links to academic success, barriers to family engagement, and how schools can encourage family engagement.


What is family engagement? 

Family engagement is characterised by the ongoing relationship between school and a child’s home. This means that schools and families share a responsibility to work together to support a child’s learning, development, and health.

As a result, family engagement relies on the assumption that learning doesn’t just take place in the classroom. This means that engaged families get involved in their child’s school life and create a continuous learning environment at home. Of course, this doesn’t mean that a child spends day and night at a desk reciting their times tables. Rather, it means that a child’s school and their family recognise and encourage opportunities for learning whenever, wherever.

On a practical level, this can look like facilitating discussions around the dinner table, encouraging a child with their reading, working with a child on their homework, and getting involved in school activities like field trips and sports days.


The link between family engagement and academic success 

Parental engagement in a child's education has consistently been found to be positively associated with academic performance. However, recent research looked to delve into this association to find out why. Importantly, this research found that increased family involvement was not only significantly related to increased academic performance but to academic performance above and beyond the impact of the child's intelligence (IQ).

Additional research by the Education Endowment Foundation has found that parental engagement has a positive impact of 4 months’ additional progress on average. As a result, it is crucial for schools to consider how they can better engage parents and families to avoid widening attainment gaps.


The additional benefits of family engagement in education

However, increased academic achievement isn’t the only benefit of engaging a child’s family in their education.

Indeed, research has indicated that strong engagement between school and home is a key predictor of better student behaviour and enhanced social skills. This is supported by research from the Department for Education, which has stated that family engagement can lead to higher pupil attainment, higher homework completion, and better self-esteem. 

It’s also been found that parental engagement makes it more likely that children and adolescents will avoid unhealthy behaviours, such as substance use. And as abstinence from substance use has been found to predict academic achievement, it’s crucial that schools develop strategies to better engage pupils’ families in their education.


Family engagement strategies

  1. Make communication between school and home easy

Parents and carers are busy people with potentially more than one child and more than one job. This means, to get them involved, you’ve got to make engagement easy. For example, with a communications platform like ReachMoreParents that makes it easy to send SMS messages, push notifications, calendar reminders and social media updates straight into the palms of their hands.

Best of all, by using a communications app like ReachMoreParents, you can house all of your school communications in one place. This means parents and carers can spend more time engaging in their child’s education and less time trying to remember whether it was an email, a letter, or a text that told them a certain piece of crucial information.

  1. Enable two-way communication

Family engagement isn’t a one-way street. Schools know this and so do families. But often there’s no clear cut way for parents and carers to reach out. Often, the most contact they have with a school is when they phone up and wait in a queue to be able to sign their child out as sick for the day. But with a school communications app like ReachMoreParents, you can enable quick and easy two-way communication between parents and school staff.

But don’t worry, your teachers aren’t going to be reading through messages in their time off; with ReachMoreParents they can set quiet hours so that they can keep their evenings and weekends for themselves.

  1. Use your communications to encourage home learning

There is some evidence to show that messages between school and home that are linked to learning can encourage positive dialogues about learning in the home. Take advantage of this by creating a communications strategy that includes regular messages to pupils’ families with tips and suggestions for incorporating learning into family life. Even just keeping parents informed on what their child is learning each day can enable them to incorporate topics into conversations at home.

  1. Share updates from throughout the school day

The best way to keep parents informed on what their child is learning is to share updates throughout the school day through a communications app like ReachMoreParents. Using our app, teachers can take pictures of school projects or send messages about the topics they’re covering, so parents and carers can see for themselves what their child’s school day looks like.

The ReachMoreParents app also protects any images of students, so you can be sure they aren't shared with the wrong audience.

  1. Personalise communications

While you can’t send individual messages all day every day to every single parent of a child in your school, using a communications app like ReachMoreParents you can split parents into groups. This means you can send messages specifically to the group they’re in and ensure your messages only go to the parents they’re aimed that. This makes it easier to speak to the parents of children in one specific form group or year group, for instance, meaning parents feel that they are being spoken to directly, rather than en masse.

  1. Make your communications inclusive

It’s also important to recognise any barriers pupils’ families may face when trying to engage with your school. For instance, more than a million children in the UK don’t speak English as their first language. This inherently means that their parents are unlikely to speak English fluently, which may be the cause of their lack of engagement. Similarly, there will be children in your school whose parents have access needs.

So, ensure your communications systems are inclusive by using a communications app that all families can access easily, with language translations and audible functions.

  1. Encourage volunteering

Make sure parents are aware of all the different ways they can get involved in school life. For example, while most parents will be aware that they can get involved in being a chaperone on school trips, they might not be aware of the things they can to day-to-day. Such as helping to run school events, like sports days and drama productions.

It’s also important to be aware of the barriers parents may face when trying to get involved on this level. They may work long hours, have unpredictable shifts, or have accessibility needs. So, it’s important to provide opportunities to get involved that are more inclusive.

For example, maybe a parent can’t get involved on a regular basis, but they can deliver a one-off talk on a subject they’re knowledgeable about. Or maybe a parent who doesn’t speak fluent English can set up a group for other parents who speak the same language as them, so they always have someone they can speak to at school events.


How can Reach More Parents help?

Overall, family engagement relies on good communication between school and home. The best way to enable regular communication is by using educational technology such as ReachMoreParents.

We offer a range of software all under the umbrella of our Reach More Parents platform, including our:

Parent App

With free in-app messages/push notifications, our Parent App enables direct two-way communication between parents and school staff.

Custom branded apps for schools

House all your parent teacher communications software in one place that’s custom branded for your school. So there’s just one place for parents to check for updates and stay up to date on their child’s education.

School Dinners App

Nutrition can be incredibly beneficial for a child’s education. With our school meals app, allow parents to book meals in advance, set minimum and maximum limits to menu control, manage Free School Meals, and pay from their phone.

Homework App

Make it easy for parents to participate in their child’s learning with our homework app. Give them oversight of their child’s homework requirements and deadlines and remove the burden of remembering for pupils.

Parents’ Evening System

Make it easy for busy parents and those with access needs to attend parents’ evenings by hosting your parents’ evenings online. Plus, allow them to structure the evening around their needs by enabling them to choose their own appointment times, and provide helpful reminders in advance.


Let’s talk

At ReachMoreParents, we’re committed to make it easy for schools like yours to promote family engagement and reach more parents. That’s why we’ve developed a range of software to do just that, all under the umbrella of our Reach More Parents platform.

To find out more about our range of software for schools, click here to book a discovery call at a time that suits you or drop us a line via our enquiry form.

Start reaching more parents today