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Empowering Parents in Education

Harris and Gooddall 2007 stated that ‘parents have the greater influence on the achievement of pupils through supporting their learning in the home environment rather than through more formal involvement in school activities’.

Harris and Gooddall’s research resulted in me refining my focus for the research on ‘how do we effectively engage parents? My research began with seeking to increase numbers of parents attending school events and trying strategies to make parents engage more with the school. These desired outcomes for the research highlighted that as a school we assumed that parents were not engaging effectively with their child at home or possibly were not interested / or held no aspirations in their child’s education. There are numerous research reports regarding the impact of parental aspirations on a child’s attainment, however, none show a clear link between students who succeed in education and their parents aspirations. This is mainly due to the high number of factors affecting a child’s attainment at different stages throughout their education journey. One thing is clear and that is all parents had some aspirations for their child regardless of their socio-economic background and what differed mostly was the level of aspirations for their child. Hilary Grayson’s research on ‘Rapid Review of Parental Engagement and Narrowing the Gap in Attainment for Disadvantaged Children’ states that ‘Poorer children and families often have high aspirations, but lack social capital. They therefore need access to better information about the options open to them, and appropriate support and advice.’

I believe that this is where schools come into play, rather than continue with the deficit model in assuming parents are not engaging we should shift to a more positive, albeit still an assumption, that parents want to engage and they all have aspirations for their child. To try and confirm this assumption the next step in my research was to survey our parents and find out how well we were doing as a school in enabling and empowering them to engage with their child at home.

Parents were asked to rate the extent to which our communication and feedback through reports, parents’ evening etc. allowed them to effectively engage with their child regarding their education as well as the barriers they face when trying to engage. The results were quite positive with a higher number of parents reporting there were no barriers in engaging with the school or their child.

Q6: What barriers, if any, do you face in supporting your child at home?

As well as finding out about the barriers parents faced in engaging with the school.

Q8: What barriers, if any, do you face when trying to engage with the school? Eg attending parents' evening, meetings, making calls/emails etc. Please tick all that apply.

To address the time/work schedules barrier we surveyed parents regarding the times of our events and the evening times we have set for parents’ evenings etc. and these were still the most suitable times for parents.

Q4: To what extent do the following parental communications allow you to engage in your child's education?