Last month, I met with Minister Coutinho and a range of brilliant charities supporting parents to talk about how schools and local government can better support parents to engage with children’s education. This is a topic very close to my heart, as both a parent and a former teacher.
Parents are so fundamentally important to children’s success in education. While children spend six hours each day in school, the rest of the time they spend at home. This means that parents are vital partners in a child’s education.
There is strong evidence to back this up. The Education Endowment Foundation has found that successful parental engagement can lead to four months academic progress for pupils.
So, the question is, how can schools successfully engage with parents and carers? My Family Review conducted a deep dive into how services, like schools, can best support families. We found that whenever any service engages with parents and carers, they should be open, non-judgemental, and loving. Schools and teachers should establish positive relationships with families, highlighting the successes alongside the areas for improvement.
Ultimately, at some point, all families may need to ask for support. Sometimes helping children with homework or creating a productive home learning environment can be difficult. Parents need to be able to ask for help, without feeling like they are receiving blame.
Children and young people have told me that when they need help, they want to be able to access it at school. Schools may not have all the answers, but they are often the first port of call for families in need of help. Schools should take on a supportive relationship with their parents and, where it is helpful to do so, they should refer children and families on to other services so they can get the help they need to thrive.
Some areas have decided to co-locate Family Hubs in their schools, to ensure greater access to the services that families need. I would like to see Family Hubs rolled out in every town and greater co-location of Family Hubs in schools so all families can access the services they need to thrive.
Parents and carers are often unseen heroes in education. They are a crucial link between home and school. I would like to see all schools working with parents to support their pupils. Later this year, I will be publishing work looking at what makes a strong pastoral support offer. I will be looking at how schools can effectively engage parents. I believe that if we improve the way parents and teachers work together, we can improve the educational outcomes for thousands of children.