The importance of successfully and consistently engaging parents in their children’s education is essential in helping pupils to reach their potential.
Research suggests as much as 80 per cent of a child’s learning happens outside school, beginning with the wider family environment but spreading beyond home and into the broader community.
Yet, tracking and evidencing school-to-home engagement can be difficult, as many of the activities involved take place beyond the school gates and away from the areas of influence of teachers and other school staff. However, there are significant benefits of being able to do so when it comes to developing your school’s approach to parental engagement.
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Indeed, in its recent guidance report on parental engagement, the Education Endowment Foundation emphasised the importance of reviewing current approaches to evaluate their effectiveness and adjust accordingly. This helps to demonstrate both to parents and inspection bodies that communication is an ongoing project with a clear purpose and measurable outcomes – rather than something that’s implemented and left to its own devices.
So, how can schools effectively monitor, track and report on their engagement strategies in order to refine them and ensure best practice?
Record interactions and interventions
Providing evidence that engagement strategies are extensive and fully completed means schools can demonstrate that a comprehensive plan for reaching out to parents and involving them in ways that benefit pupils is not only in place but also being actively adhered to.
Using technologies such as communication platforms or smartphone apps makes this process much easier, creating an audit trail of when messages were sent, delivered and received, so you can quickly and easily record and reference them.
By cross-referencing this with assessment or exam results, schools could also identify situations where increased involvement resulted in improved outcomes, showing the power of parental engagement – something that can be immensely valuable if a school is ever required to demonstrate its action in this area.
Make sense of the data
However, accessing and presenting data to demonstrate such trends in a clear and articulate manner can be a challenge. Using an interface such as SIMS Discover, though, provides schools with all the tools needed to drill down into their data and present it clearly and coherently.
Whether you’re looking to focus on a specific group of pupils or investigate wider trends and patterns, creating visual representations of numerical values can make this process much easier, saving huge chunks of valuable time.
By then applying the insight gained from this kind of statistical review to pupil assessments, schools can create more individual and tailored learning journeys for children within their specific programmes of study.
And when using two fully integrated systems for these two functions, schools have the ability to update records, manage assessments and recalculate curriculum plans accordingly, in a responsive, time-sensitive manner.
Track behaviour and attendance to identify patterns
Schools accrue a lot of data simply because of the sheer number of interactions that take place from the moment pupils arrive through to the end of the day (and often beyond if you have after-school clubs or extracurricular activities taking place).
Using a central collection point for the data gathered on a daily basis provides schools with a wealth of opportunities to investigate and explore that information in search of patterns or trends, which can often be indicators of situations in need of attention before they become issues.
For instance, attendance data provides a large bank of information that can be cross-referenced with other areas such as behaviour to help spot trends. Are there any patterns that show particular pupils behaving in a certain way after a certain lesson or on the same day each week? Are there any underlying reasons for this that can be investigated to gain a better understanding?
Having recognised the pattern and pinpointed the cause, schools can then put into place plans to address these scenarios and encourage more positive behaviours – which can, in turn, be recorded and demonstrated.
Evidence safeguarding measures to gain parents' trust
Putting effective and robust strategies in place for ensuring the safety and security of pupils is of course, of paramount importance. And evidencing those strategies and their effects over a long period of time can be a key part of a successful inspection. It also demonstrates to parents that schools are a place they can trust in and collaborate with.
One of the main barriers to parental engagement cited by schools is the legacy of negative experiences felt by parents from their own education. Feeling that school is somewhere they wish to avoid can make some parents unwilling to collaborate with their child’s school, making it even more difficult to gain buy-in.
One major step towards breaking this barrier can be demonstrating to parents that their children are in safe hands and that their wellbeing is of the highest priority. By recording all elements of safeguarding and maintaining accurate, up-to-date records on pupils and their daily activities, you can help parents to see that their child’s happiness and development is truly at the heart of the school’s operations.
Streamline your data evidence processes
By maintaining consistent and accurate data for pupils over a long period of time, schools can present inspection bodies with key data to demonstrate success whenever required.
This process of recording, presenting and amplifying the procedures that ensure safety and encourage parents to be more involved in supporting children’s learning is significantly smoother with a data ecosystem that lets schools enter and update records in a single and straightforward way.
Ensuring that data can flow without friction from one touchpoint to the next while also facilitating the creation of real-time updates and reports for parents can help to build confidence and further encourage engagement throughout a child’s entire learning journey.
Get this right and there are huge benefits, from improved learning outcomes for pupils to effectively and clearly demonstrating the positive action a school is taking on parental engagement.
Abdul Ghafoor is head of engagement and finance products, researching effective parental engagement and developing solutions for Capita SIMS