The words ‘parental engagement’ can be a hot potato for those working in schools. Yes, we want our pupils’ parents to engage with school and we can easily think of a list of our hard to reach parents who we may only see at parents evening (if that). However on the flip side, we also know those parents who are always at the classroom door, they are engaging but maybe not in an overly manageable way for ourselves and our colleagues. However, engaging and supporting parents doesn’t have to be a chore.
At the end of the day, parents just want to know that their child is happy, making friends, behaving themselves and learning! And some parents want to know how they can continue their child’s learning outside of the classroom and help them at home. If you’re creating crib sheets on how to add fractions, or spending hours replying to emails from parents about what’s coming up in writing next term then surely there has to be a better way?
Since the removal of levels many simple solutions designed to engage parents have appeared. Some simply share curriculum statements, others allow you to text a parent to remind them about sports day but what these don’t always offer is the ability for parents to know exactly what their child is learning alongside the progress they are making. If your parental engagement tool also gives you the opportunity to share a portfolio of work along with supporting articles so parents know how to help at home then you are beginning to provide a rich resource to help parents engage with your curriculum. Fronted adverbials and relative clauses are enough to scare anyone, let alone parents who have been out of the education system for at least 10 years!
From our work with parents and teachers we’ve found that sharing this information (especially if it can be translated into other languages!) begins to facilitate a conversation during parents evening about other areas of school life rather than simply becoming a checklist of what their child can or can’t do. Parents can already see this from the comfort of their own home, they know how to support their child and can access this information at a time that suits them. As a teacher you know your pupils are getting support at home, without any additional workload for you, and the conversations at parents evening can focus on what truly matters, such as whether they are making friends and are happy at school!
"I think this is an amazing tool. It provides accessible information all year round, rather than waiting for updates at Parent Consultations."
Leanne Wyatt, Parent