The Engaging Parents Toolkit aims to help you to raise achievement in school through better communication with parents, by focusing on the type of parental involvement that has been proven to have the most impact on pupil achievement; talking at home.
The Engaging Parents Toolkit will:
help you to review the way your school currently involves parents and carers
provide you with the materials you need to complete Section 2 of the SEF
help staff to understand the benefits of involving parents
provide tools to engage all parents, including those who are more difficult to reach
make parental involvement core to your school’s development
maximise the quality of statutory provision (ie, parents’ evenings and reporting)
provide tools to improve pupil achievement through parental involvement
facilitate agreement on mutual priorities between parents and school.
Summary of contents
Getting you started on building relationships with parents
The Engaging Parents Toolkit is designed to help you start conversations with the parents of your students and your staff and make a difference to pupil attainment. The toolkit comes in five sections specifically designed to help you engage with parents in a way that will have a positive impact on students. The sections cover areas such as:
what is known about parental involvement
templates for promoting talk about learning
national policy and school priorities.
Easy to use
In this toolkit you will find a range of tools designed to help you engage with parents in a way that will have a positive impact on students. There is no need to read this document in the order presented here. The navigation tool provided in the toolkit will help you to use it however you see fit for your school. It will help you to tackle the most urgent issues regarding parental involvement.
Section 1: What we know about parental involvement (Prof Charles Desforges)
This provides you with a summary of the latest evidence about parental involvement.
It can be copied and given to SLTs, governors, staff and parents to read, or you can use the tools provided elsewhere in the toolkit to share this evidence.
Section 2: Tools for starting conversations
This provides you with a range of tools for starting conversations with staff and parents.
They can be used as starter activities for events you already run or as a sequence of activities for new forms of engagement. Either way, they help you build a relationship around shared priorities which contribute to helping young people succeed.
Section 3: Templates for promoting talk about learning
This provides you with a range of exemplar templates designed to encourage parents, students and school to talk about learning. They can be used to help you review the contribution that processes (such as parents’ evenings, mentoring days and homework diaries) make to learning. This section also exemplifies how templates can be used to encourage ‘at home’ talk. You will also find a focus on fathers here.
Section 4: Enquiring parents
This provides you with a description and explanation of the potential benefits of engaging parents in enquiry. In addition, it provides tools to get you going and accounts from practice so you can learn from the experience of others. This can be used in two ways. Firstly, it can include parents in the process of gathering parental views (useful for your self-evaluation form). Secondly, it explores how enquiry might be used to support and challenge specific groups of parents. It also considers how you could use student enquiry to promote ‘at home’ talk and bridge the gap between home and school.
Section 5: National policy and school priorities (Dr David Leat)
This provides a summary of policy and practice with which you will be wrestling in school and explores where parental involvement could connect and add value. Use it to build shared understanding among staff and governors.
To help you use the toolkit to its full potential, we have included an audit tool. This will enable you to identify the key areas that you need to focus on in your school and prioritise those areas that need to be tackled first.
Introduction – Parental involvement
The sections in summary
Section 1 – What do we know about parental involvement?
The impact of parental involvement on pupil achievement
The research review
Implications for home-school policy
Section 2 – Tools for starting conversations
Background to the tools
Tool: parental Involvement for Raising Achievement Audit Tool
Staff professional development as a starting point
Case study: Ponteland High School
Staff professional development
Tool: reasons for not engaging – Post-it activity and diamond
Tool: how to engage – mysteries
Tool: most likely to… activity
Case study: Inspire – making connections with parents
Starting conversations between parents and teachers
Case study: Ponteland High School (cont)
Tool: a view of relationships
Tool: what factors affect pupil achievement? – diamond 9
Prioritising at-home conversation
Tool: at-home talk – diamond 9
Tool: at-home talk – cartoon activity
Tool: solution-focused therapy
Working together – working that out together
Tool: better together – diamond 9
Tool: who takes responsibility? – mysteries
Evaluating the likely impact of activities
Case study: Ponteland High School (cont)
Tool: will your activity make a difference?
Tool: what makes parental involvement effective?
Section 3 – Templates for promoting talk about learning
What are templates for promoting talk about learning?
Templates for promoting talk about learning (Dr Kate Wall)
Tool: templates to review parent/school communications designed to impact upon learning
Template 1: mentoring day/parents’ evening (child present) talk template
Template 2: homework diary talk template (classroom)
Template 3: parents’ evening talk template (no child present)
Template 4: report talk template (home)
Tool: templates to enhance the quality of conversation communication designed to impact on learning
Using templates with specific groups of parents
Tips for successfully involving fathers
Tool: talk template for fathers
Template 5: early years talk template (fathers 1)
Template 6: early years talk template (fathers 2)
Template 7: early years talk template (fathers 3)
Template 8: early years talk template (fathers 4)
Section 4 – Enquiring parents
Building learning relationships with and between parents that make a difference to children
Creating reflective learning partnerships: the role of research and enquiry
Action research or collaborative enquiry?
The idea in practice
Some thoughts about hard-to-reach parents
Student researchers: encouraging talk at home and in school through student action research – ‘Baggy Trousers! School stories then and now’
Tool: ‘Baggy Trousers! School stories then and now’: Example 1
Tool: ‘Baggy Trousers! School stories then and now’: Example 2
The known benefits of collaborative CPD on teachers and their students
Case study: parent researchers at Howden’s Children’s Centre
At-home involvement: who else is at home to involve?
The contribution of grandparents: an example from Howden
Case study: Sunfield School
Section 5 – National policy and school priorities
Parents and their contribution to the personalised learning agenda