For a while now, parental engagement has been a hot topic in schools. It has generally been accepted that involving parents in the education and achievements of their children brings about greater success, but how to actually achieve this remains something of a mystery to many individuals and organisations in the education sector.
From our interactions with teachers and parents, there is often a view that more needs to be done in the field of engaging parents in their children’s studies, but actually pinpointing what works and what doesn’t can seem like a never-ending challenge in itself.
According to TES and a survey from PTA UK, schools need to do more to get parents involved in their children’s education and that the potential benefits would make that extra investment a worthwhile pursuit. More than two thirds of teachers state that building trust and improving relationships between parents and teachers is the single biggest benefit, while other positive impacts cited include areas such as improving academic achievement and pupil behaviour, as well as reducing absenteeism.
Schools which can create sustainable, long-lasting programmes where parents take an active involvement in supporting the education of their children can expect to enjoy increased pupil performance and behaviour as children move through their learning journeys.
Best practice for parental engagement
One of the best ways to foster an environment of parental engagement in schools is to make a dedicated plan and build a strategy aimed at outlining what your school is looking to achieve. With a specific plan of action, led by senior leaders with support and actions involving all corners of the school community, there is a far greater chance of making a strategy succeed.
A whole school approach to parental engagement will be more likely to produce positive results – encouraging parents to be more involved in their child’s education shouldn’t be just one person’s responsibility as parents and students have many different touchpoints with their schools.
With this in mind, schools may need to invest in training or coaching for staff to build confidence and reinforce positive behaviours – this could form part of formal teacher training or continued professional development programmes.
In a recent report on primary schools in Wales, the research found that while few schools have a consistent approach that results in high levels of parental involvement, schools that showed the best practice had made a point of taking a proactive stance, listened closely to the requirements of parents and acted upon that feedback to shape their strategies and plan activities accordingly. In this sense, providing parents with channels to offer their thoughts and provide feedback should be seen as a great opportunity for schools.
In this respect, and given the ways in which people now expect to receive communications and interact with their social groups, it would be best practice for schools to follow a process of planning that puts the needs of parents and families first. This then provides guidance to identify the strategies to meet those needs before ultimately selecting the tools and resources required to bring that plan to life.
Parental Engagement Solutions
At SIMS we offer a range of services and solutions designed to support schools in their parental engagement activities and make interactions as smooth and straightforward as possible for all parties involved.
The growth of highly advanced, easy-to-use technology in recent years has provided us all with more access than ever before to resources and tools that make life easier – mobile apps, cloud-based storage and high-speed internet access to name a few. With that in mind, we’ve looked to develop our parental engagement solutions in a way that allows schools to meet the requirements of their parents and reach out to them via the best channels available for their individual needs.
We’ve focused the development of our parental engagement tools on being convenient, customisable and easy to use, offering schools the functionality to deliver instant messages and alerts, collect data safely and securely and maintain control over what parents are able to see and when.
SIMS Parent app
Perhaps our central solution for engaging parents is the SIMS Parent app, which allows schools to share information on attendance, behaviour, homework, achievement and school reports via a convenient app format that can be accessed via smartphone, tablet or PC. With clear dashboards, the ability to capture data and deliver instant messages and alerts as required – or on a pre-determined schedule – the SIMS Parent app offers schools flexibility and versatility in their approach to creating stronger bonds with parents.
If schools are looking to extend their communications channels to SMS and email, they need look no further than SIMS InTouch. Making use of both SMS and email, schools can send detailed messages relating to a pupil’s behaviour, unexplained absences, special educational needs and more. The additional benefit of SIMS InTouch is that it facilitates two-way communication, encouraging parents to become actively involved in their child’s school life.
To help create a smooth experience for parents in respect of school payments, SIMS Pay takes the whole process online, saving parents the need to send cash in with children and allowing them to action payments whenever and wherever suits their needs. In addition, thanks to integration with SIMS Dinner Money and other cashless providers, parents have the ability to view and top up their child’s school meal balance and receive automatic payment reminders when it gets low.
As has been shown in recent research, there is no one size fits all strategy to engaging parents with school contexts shaping different needs, focuses and challenges. At SIMS our approach is to ensure our solutions are convenient, customisable and easy to use and when used in combination, ensure schools are equipped to bring their engagement strategies to life.