Blueprint pilot project in the Doncaster Opportunity Area
In 2019, Parentkind was awarded a contract by the Doncaster Opportunity Area to deliver a pilot project helping schools get more parents involved in their child’s learning. We focussed our work on the wider parental engagement agenda, using our 'Blueprint for Parent Friendly Schools’, working with schools selected from a group with the highest levels of persistent absence as research shows that there is a reduction in absenteeism where parental participation is strengthened. The project was scheduled to run throughout the academic year from September 2019 to July 2020.
The Blueprint for Parent-Friendly Schools was introduced to 14 primary and seven secondary schools so that they could capture the impact of increased parental participation on pupil attendance rates in schools with previously high levels of absenteeism. As the pilot progressed, we assessed the needs of each school and developed practical strategies that they could put in place to help overcome barriers to engagement and offer their parent communities different routes to getting involved in their child's education. Using this approach, schools embedded actions and formalised an action plan that can easily be continued once the pilot was finished.
Head Teachers, Senior Leaders, Parent Support Workers and School Governors attended our training on a Whole School Approach to parental engagement. Using our Parental Participation Audit Tool and results from parent and staff surveys, a more formalised Action Plan was drawn up with the help of a dedicated Programme Coordinator. This was in line with the Blueprint for Parent-Friendly Schools' five key drivers: Leadership, Ethos and Resources, Effective Two-way Communication, Parents Supporting Learning, Parents Involvement in School Life and Community Engagement.
The original plan for closure of the pilot was after the May Spring Bank Holiday, when schools would re-do the Parental Participation Audit and parents and staff would complete a closing survey so that Parentkind could analyse any changes in opinions or engagement. Unfortunately, due to the coronavirus pandemic this was not possible, as schools had not been open and any school improvement/development plans were placed on hold so that schools could concentrate on delivering education remotely. However, we have gathered some success stories from the schools which can be found below.
Kerry-Jane Packman, Development and Memberships Director at Parentkind said: “Our aim was to create parental engagement strategies that teachers and school leaders can easily make part of their school day to improve attendance and reduce exclusions. There is plenty of research to show that parents are a real force for good when it comes to their child’s education and learning. When they have regular and meaningful conversations with their children, set high aspirations for their futures and demonstrate their own interest and support of learning at home and school, the impact can be significant.”
Charlotte Bown, Head of Delivery at the Doncaster Opportunity Area added: “The Doncaster Opportunity Area is pleased that Parentkind have delivered this work to support schools to improve their parental engagement strategies. Our programme focusses on improving social mobility and we know that engaging with families will be key to this.”
For more details about the Blueprint for Parent-Friendly Schools click here.