Promising practices in parental engagement – 3 resources

rs6-blog-bannerBill-LucasThis is the third 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.

There are many exciting practices in parental engagement described in books and on websites. In this article we’ll look at three resources, two from the USA and one from England, which are both practically useful and grounded in research: a guide to family-school partnerships; creating a culture to engage all families; and techniques to maximise parental impact.

Resource 1: Beyond the bake sale: the essential guide to family-school partnerships

Beyond the bake sale starts with a section on the rationale, describes many ways in which a relationship with parents can be built and concludes with practical tools and resources.

Particularly useful are:

  • the idea of four kinds of school – Partnership, Open-door, Come-if-we-call and Fortress. (You can decide which yours really is!)
  • the Parents and Teachers Talking Together Programme (PT3) from Kentucky which brings these two key groups together to talk while sharing a meal together at the start of a phase of education, to build mutual understanding. They share aspirations for their children/students, prioritise ways in which student achievement can be improved, and then make concrete plans for action
  • significant emphasis on welcoming all families which involves rethinking most of a school’s traditional ways of meeting and working with families
  • clear guidance on how to establish a family centre, with a worked example from Massachusetts.

Resource 2: Engaging all families: creating a positive school culture

Written by a former school principal, this book combines research and practical suggestions. It explicitly explores the leadership dimension of parental engagement as well as the potential to use technology. It concludes with various useful templates, especially ‘100 ways to make your school family friendly’.

Particularly useful are:

  • the chapter on leadership and its emphasis on the creation of a welcoming culture
  • the chapter on evaluation which turns the old adage ‘what measures gets done’ on its head and offers a comprehensive framework for evaluating a school’s parental engagement work.

Resource 3: Engaging Parents Toolkit: techniques to maximise parental impact

This toolkit is excellent – full of thoughtful, well-researched ideas which a school could use immediately.

Particularly useful are:

  • the section ‘Tools for starting conversations’, which anatomises the different levels of conversation needed, from senior leadership team to students and their parents via governors and staff. It then provides a range of activities which could be used as part of a school’s professional development or directly with parents to ensure, by careful choice of topic and method, that good conversations about learning and learners are likely to occur. Diagrams and cartoons ensure that the activities are accessible and clear
  • the accompanying section, which offers templates for promoting talk about learning. The template that encourages review of existing parent/school communications should flush out the many ways in which schools can distract parents from what really matters and instead enable them to focus on what does – progress in learning.

Find out more about Beyond the bake sale: the essential guide to family-school partnerships

Find out more about Engaging all families: creating a positive school culture

Find out more about Engaging Parents Toolkit: techniques to maximise parental impact

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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