Parental Engagement: an investment worth making?
by Rob Caudwell
There wasn’t a question I heard more at parents' evenings than the slightly accusatory: “why hasn’t my child been getting any homework?”. I was (I promise) reasonably consistent at setting my pupils homework. But I struggled to find ways to communicate this home to parents.
These repeated conversations frequently then turned to discussions about how the parent could better support their child at home.
They would like to know that I was setting homework but they also wanted to engage with the work their child had been given.
The Department for Education is clear, parental engagement can have “a large and positive effect on children’s learning”, and so schools should prioritise the identification of effective methods for involving parents in their child’s education. The DfE report goes on to assert that parental engagement strategies are at their best when they are carefully planned, consistently implemented and sustained. However, this is all much easier said than done. It is hard enough sharing information with parents about what is going on in school let alone finding ways to help parents participate in their child’s learning.
Michelle Doyle Wildman, acting chief executive of PTA UK, was recently quoted by TES saying that by under-investing in parental engagement, schools are “missing a trick” and that schools should look at “whole school approaches”. The potential impact that well-informed and supported parents can have, will mean that schools are likely to see large returns on investments in this area.
“When parents are involved in their children’s education, children do better on a range of measures: their behaviour is better, they have greater self-esteem, their attendance is higher, the risk of exclusion is lower, they are more keen to learn, they achieve better results, and the achievement gap between children and young people from different socio-economic backgrounds is reduced."
- PTA summary of research into the benefits of parental engagement. Full article can be found here.
To take advantage of all of these possible benefits, schools need to build reliable systems which make homework resources, assignments and results more visible to parents. But schools also need to develop ways to support parents in knowing how to help their children.
Schools I work with have been able to make the homework process transparent for parents using Doddle, showing them all the homework that their child has been set, whether it has been completed and how well they have done. But Doddle does more than this. It also empowers parents by allowing them to open and explore the resources themselves. Parents can challenge their child to see who can get the higher score on self-marking quizzes. Parents can use the revision resources to test their child on the key skills, concepts and facts needed to succeed on the new GCSEs. And parents can build up their own confidence in the content that is being assigned ahead of time, before offering to help their child with their homework or revision.
Doddle gives parents the information and insight they need to not only know about, but also to best engage with their children’s school work at home.
To see these features in action, we can offer you a free in-school visit, at a time to suit you.
As a Maths teacher in Manchester, I was an advocate for creative learning strategies and the effective use of ed-tech. In my role as an Education Adviser at Doddle I help schools implement tools that engage pupils, save teachers time, help middle leaders use data strategically and allow senior leaders to “join up” their thinking on all things progress, assessment, homework, teaching and learning.
– Rob Caudwell
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