Almost all teachers see the benefits of parental participation in schools, yet few have any idea of what their own schools are doing to support and promote it, warns new research released today.
There is almost universal acceptance by teachers of the positive impact that parents can have, with only 2 per cent claiming it has no impact, states a PTA UK survey.
More than two thirds of teachers state that building trust and improving relationships between parents and teachers is the single biggest benefit, according to the survey of more than 1,300 teachers from 1,170 primary and secondary schools in England, conducted as part of NFER’s Teachers’ Omnibus survey in May this year.
Other positive impacts cited by teachers include things such as improving academic achievement and pupil behaviour, as well as reducing absenteeism.
One in three teachers believe that parental input also helps better school decision-making.
However, less than one in five teachers say their school has any formal parental engagement plan in place.
Almost half (48 per cent) of respondents do not know who is responsible for parental engagement at their school.
This is particularly the case among classroom teachers (61 per cent) compared to senior leaders (17 per cent) and more so in secondary schools (57 per cent) than primary schools (41 per cent).
There needs to be a “whole school approach” to involving parents that is part of the school improvement plan and has clearly defined roles for staff, states the research.
This will “enable schools to provide opportunities for a variety of parents to get involved in their child’s education, maximising the proven benefits for both their children and the school”, it adds.
Michelle Doyle Wildman, acting chief executive of PTA UK, said the research highlights the support among teachers for involving parents in schools.
She added: “Schools are, by under-investing in this area, missing a trick to achieve more and build trust with the communities they serve”.
Teachers need to be supported in making the most out of parental involvement, she said. “By training staff to embrace a culture of engagement, and ensuring commitment from senior leadership teams, governors and trustees, our schools can make strides towards better home-school partnerships and truly establish themselves as parent-friendly”.
Responding to the findings, Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, comments: “I’d be surprised if schools and colleges don’t have a range of different ways in which they are engaging with parents and carers”.
He adds: “It might be that what this survey illuminates is that we don’t always communicate those to teachers, but probably that’s because teachers need to know the bits that are directly pertinent to them, such as how do we run parents evenings, how do we write reports, how do we conduct ourselves with parents”.
Parent involvement is "fundamental to children’s learning" according to Kevin Courtney, joint general secretary, National Education Union, but he remarks that workload demands and funding cuts mean: "there is not the time or the money to develop more formal parental practices".