stigma that they shouldn’t get involved unless there is a problem. That’s why we’ve put this short article together to help your school explore ways to overcome obstacles that may be affecting your engagement with parents.
1. Communication is KEY
Increasing parental engagement is a key OFSTED and ISI target for schools and one of the ways to do this is to ensure parents are constantly kept informed and up to date with information on their child’s education and development. This can be done through ensuring that parents have access to a calendar highlighting term dates and events as well as important documents such as school policies, OFSTED / ISI reports and exam results.
2. Encourage Conversation
Once you’ve increased the frequency at which you communicate with parents you should start to think about ways in which you can encourage parents to have their say. One of the best ways to start a discussion with parents is by utilising social media (a channel they are familiar with) to encourage them to respond, ask questions and voice their opinions on key topics. For example if you are thinking about trialling a new evening club for children you can gauge how many parents would be interested by simply posing the question to them.
3. Hold more fun-packed events
Hosting fun-packed events can be a great way for staff to break the ice and get to know parents so both parties find it easier to approach one another. Not all parents have fond memories of being in education which can inadvertently impact on their ability to engage in their child’s learning. This is why events are particularly beneficial as they help to break down these barriers by helping parents put a face to a teachers name so to speak.
4. Host a Parents Evening
Although you might think hosting a parents evening is a fairly obvious way to improve parental engagement many parents may struggle to attend if they work long hours or have far to commute back home. One of the ways to overcome this is to think about innovative ways you can cater to the needs of these parents so they aren’t missing out on important updates on their child’s development. Perhaps you could have a conference call with these parents or set up a free of charge Skype call for example. Additionally encouraging further engagement through a regularly updated website, app and social media channels can help keep parents actively involved in their child’s advancement.
5. Provide Communication in an Approachable Way
Once you’ve scheduled events and identified what type of messages and content you’d like to share with parents you need to think carefully about the channel you use to communicate this information to parents. Why? Because printed materials often get lost in the post and if parents have changed their contact details letters and text messages become useless. So how do I achieve this? Well social media channels such as Twitter or Facebook can be a quick and inexpensive way for your school to distribute messages but not all parents use this medium. Another solution is a school app, which can be downloaded by parents directly to their smartphone or tablet device.
Best of all apps can have in-built calendars highlighting key dates, a live social media or blogging stream and it can enable your school to send unlimited notifications as well as PDF documents to parents instantly.