When parents are involved in their education, children do better on a wide range of measures.These positive effects include:
- Better behaviour
- More confidence and greater self-esteem
- Higher attendance rates
- A lower risk of exclusion
- More enthusiasm about learning
- Better results.
In fact, John Hattie's seminal 2008 study, Visible Learning: A Synthesis of Over 800 Meta-Analyses Relating to Achievement found that "the effect of parental engagement over a student's school career is equivalent to adding two or three years to that student's education".
This is why it is so important that schools work in partnership with their parents, from a child's first days at school right through to when they leave. When schools and parents listen to each other and work together, they have a really positive impact on attainment and student well-being.
"Parental engagement is a powerful lever for raising achievement in schools. When parents and teachers work together to improve learning, the gains in achievement are significant."Do Parents Know they Matter (Harris & Goodall/University of Warwick 2007).
How can parents engage in schools?
The term "parental engagement" is a broad one and covers many ways parents can get involved in their child's school life. It includes:
- What parents do at home to help their child succeed at school
- Supporting children to attend and learn at school every day
- Making sure children understand the importance their parents place on education
- Parents being involved in their child's school - attending consultations evenings, responding to surveys, volunteering their time and talents (including on the PTA or parent council), helping in the classroom or becoming a governor or trustee. Being visible in school persuasively communicates the value that parents place on education to their children.
Giving parents a voice - a say on school matters and involvement in decision-making on issues that affect them - enables schools to meet the needs of the communities they serve more effectively. Most school policies have a direct impact on families and so those families' views should be taken into account to ensure maximum effectiveness.
For this to happen, it is vital that governors and school leaders create an open and welcoming culture, providing multiple opportunities for mums, dads and carers to participate. It's particularly important to reach out to parents who are disengaged for one reason or another, often related to their own experiences at school.
Reaching out to all parents, making sure they know how important they are and how they can best support their child is one of the most important tasks for a school.