All onboard! Tips on how to engage those hard-to-reach parents

The research is in and the results are clear – engaging parents in their child’s at-home learning delivers measurable, positive benefits. Attainment is raised, improvements are noted in behaviour across the board, both at school and in the community at large. So the challenge for schools and teachers is: how to engage all parents in the school community, including those who may at a first glance appear to not be open to engagement?

This is the image caption and/or credit

Do all parents even want to be engaged?
Most teachers will be familiar with those ‘hard-to-reach’ parents. This section of the school community is defined by the government as parents who:

— have very low levels of engagement with school
— do not attend school meetings nor respond to communications
— show high levels of inertia in overcoming perceived barriers to participation

While it is easy to think of these parents as indifferent, in fact two out of three parents want to be engaged with their child’s education, but for a variety of reasons, they may be reluctant to become involved. Perhaps their own experience of school was a negative one, they feel intimidated by the education system or inadequate, not up to the task of helping their child with homework. Language barriers could also mean that while parents desperately want to be involved, their understanding of English prevents them from being able to participate.

‘You are as important as your child’
One of the most important messages to communicate to this group of parents and carers is that they are as important to the school as their child. Their help and participation make a vital difference, especially in the early years. Simply reading together at home, for example, has been proven to have dramatic effects on early-years literacy. So it’s vital that parents are aware of the important role they play in their child’s educational attainment.

Schoop provides the means of communication to reach this section of the school community. Many hard-to-reach parents may feel daunted talking to teachers at parent-teacher evenings, or intimidated in a crowd with other parents. Schoop gives control back to the parent by putting communication in the palm of their hand. A simple app downloaded on to their smartphone can make the difference between no communication and an enthusiastic, engaged parent.

Hints, tips and encouragement
While no school wants to bombard parents with a never-ending stream of information, a consistent approach is recommended. Poor school-to-home communication is one of the most frequent laments made by parents, which is why Push Notifications is our most popular feature. With up to 500 characters per message, teachers are able to pass on study tips, hints around current topic discussions or, most appreciated of all, congratulations on good test results, class participation, or simply a message of appreciation for a positive class attitude. The real-time connection offers endless options. As one happy user told us, ‘I finally realise that in fact, my child is not doing ‘nothing’ all day, and I love the fact that we are having conversations about the topics they are studying while they’re studying them.’

What do parents want?
Most parents would reply that they want to feel involved in their child’s education. Schoop’s popular Forms and Surveys feature is an easy, efficient method of canvassing their opinions and emphasising parental importance in decision making. While asking parents questions about their child’s study programme may be helpful, the crucial element comes in analysing survey responses and demonstrating that they are being acted on. Schoop’s sophisticated analytics are invaluable in collating responses and presenting them in a clear, straightforward manner. This feature also identifies parents who are not engaging, emphasising groups to target for personalised communication and outreach. Asking for help and feedback will almost always lead to improved engagement. Don’t just take our word for it. The current Ofsted framework also recognises the importance of parental engagement, requiring inspectors to request evidence that parent’s views are being sought after.

Talk their language!
No, we’re not suggesting that teachers learn half a dozen languages in their spare time! Language barriers can be frustrating for all sides, and unless there are sufficient translation resources, some parents may feel left behind. Schoop overcomes this barrier, with the ability to automatically translate into more than forty languages and dialects. Parents simply select their chosen language on set-up and Schoop does the rest.

Schoop – the possibilities are endless
While we touch on a selection of Schoop’s features in this blog, in reality, their practical applications are endless. From an interactive calendar to the News and Engagement section, schools are able to utilise the app to enhance any current parental engagement strategy. Make sure everyone’s in the loop! Click below for a free demo.