Pilot Schools: Blueprint for Parent-Friendly Schools

We piloted our Blueprint for Parent-Friendly Schools in 21 schools in the Doncaster Opportunity Area. Here’s what happened.

In 2019, we were 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 but unfortunately was cut short due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Our programme focusses on improving social mobility and we know that engaging with families will be key to this.

Charlotte Bown, Head of Delivery at the Doncaster Opportunity Area

What we did 

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.

Headteachers, 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.

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.

Kerry-Jane Packman, Executive Director of Programmes, Membership and Charitable Services

The results