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On this page you can find information about:

  • how to engage with parents and carers in a meaningful way
  • engaging harder-to-reach parents and carers

Context

If parents and carers are actively involved in their children’s learning and activities at school, the more likely the child or young person is to thrive – both in academic performance and in general wellbeing. Evidence from the Education Endowment Foundation’s Teaching and Learning Toolkit suggests that effective parental engagement can lead to learning gains of +3 months over the course of a year.

School and college leaders and teachers are experts at working with parents and carers, and have valuable opportunities to engage with them every day. When families, teachers and support staff work together, children can be better supported to reach their full potential and to get back on track when problems arise.

How to engage with parents and carers

When thinking about how to meaningfully engage with the parents and carers in your school or college community it is important to consider

  • Meetings and communication

It can help to have an open-door policy. This tells parents and carers that they can speak to school staff about any concerns they have. It also encourages frequent and regular contact if it is needed or wanted.

  • Leadership and management style

Are parents and carers considered in decision-making? See ‘Including pupils, staff and parents and carers in decision-making’.

  • School curriculum

Are parents and carers aware of how they can best support their child’s learning, both in school and at home?

  • Continuing professional development

Are staff and parents and carers given the opportunity to learn about mental health and wellbeing?

  • Stakeholders

Are there any other stakeholders or resources that you could identify to support parents and carers more effectively? For example, the local education authority, faith groups, community organisations or national helplines and websites?

See our ‘Supporting mental health and wellbeing in schools: engaging with all parents and carers’ booklet for more detailed suggestions.

Engaging harder-to-reach parents and carers

It may be useful for schools to think in terms of a differentiated approach to parental engagement and to have a strategy for how they engage and work with families and children with more complex needs. This means creating a plan for how to engage specifically those parents and carers that are harder to reach and may involve therapeutic interventions, such as a school- or college-based therapist a specialist approach like the multi-family groups in schools model that’s used by the Pears Family School, the alternative provision school that we founded and support.

Engaging parents and carers whose children are at risk of exclusion is both important and challenging. Multi family groups can reduce problematic behaviours at school and home, improve emotional wellbeing, support families to rediscover and learn skills and strengths Children perform better emotionally, socially and academically.

Resources

Supporting mental health and wellbeing in schools: engaging with all parents and carers

This booklet has been developed by teachers, clinicians and parents and carers, including the Anna Freud Centre’s Parent Champions, to explore a range of innovative ways that schools can help children by successfully engaging with parents and carers

Parent/carer engagement

Our Mentally Healthy Schools team have put together information about what schools can do to strengthen parental engagement

 

Multi-Family Groups in Schools manual

This manual offers a theoretical background to the multi‑family groups approach and practical detail for schools who may wish to setting up and running the groups themselves. The booklet is available free but some specialist therapeutic support or training is recommended.

Working with parents to support children's learning

This Education Endowment Foundation guidance report reviews the best available research to offer schools and teachers four recommendations to support parental engagement in children’s learning.

Parental engagement: summary of recommendations (poster)

The Education Endowment Foundation summarise their four clear and actionable recommendations on a poster.

Brenda McHugh, co-founder of the Pears Family School and Consultant Psychotherapist at the Anna Freud Centre, offers advice on engaging with parents and carers

Case studies

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