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Parental engagement – a call to action

rs6-blog-bannerBill-LucasThis is the final piece in a series of articles adapted from the SSAT publication Redesigning Schooling – 6 – Engaging parents: why and how, authored by Professor Bill Lucas. SSAT members can download the full publication for free from the members’ area of the website.

We began this series by identifying six types of parental engagement and how they can be employed most effectively. We then considered what kind of parental engagement we need for what kind of learning.

Next we discussed three promising resources that have had success in enhancing family-school relationships. Following that we explored an adapted version of Joyce Epstein’s framework of Six Types of Involvement.

Penultimately we considered Connecticut Department for Education’s 10 steps to success with parental engagement.

We finish with a description of what a call for action might look like if it were driven, in SSAT style, from the bottom up by passionate, well-informed leaders and teachers in schools.

Clearly we are talking about considerable changes in practices, one in which old habits will need to be replaced by new ones. To overcome the inevitable resistance to changing practices with respect to parental engagement, we will need to state clearly and non-judgementally our dissatisfaction with the current situation in schools.

After many years of research, Joyce Epstein is convinced that most schools want to engage parents and families once they realise its potential impacts. But, she argues, they often do not know how. Consequently there is a large gap between the rhetoric of their intentions and the reality of their actions. rs6-5-steps-400She has distilled her suggestion for first practical steps into five clear steps (see diagram to right).

The evidence of the benefits to learners from engaging parents and families is strong. Yet still, a decade after the Every Child Matters legislation, practices on the ground are patchy.

Bearing this in mind, there are four key questions you should consider:

Are you satisfied with what your school is doing now?

What might it take for your school to decide to become fully committed to systematically engaging parents?

Do you have a vision of the kinds of activities which your school could be offering to parents?

What might a first step in pursuit of your vision look like?

If in doubt or still needing to be convinced, why not try the survey included in the full version of Redesigning Schooling – 6 – Engaging parents: why and how? You could use it first with staff and then, in adapted forms, with students and their parents. SSAT members can access the PDF copy here.


Professor Bill Lucas, along with Professor Guy Claxton, created the Expansive Education Network – one of the biggest teacher researcher groups in the world. Find out more here.

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