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How Shahana was able to boost parental engagement at her school

8 Nov 2019

By Lizzie Green, Communications Assistant

Shahana Rahman is a teacher at Bangabandhu Primary School in Tower Hamlets, London.

Why did your school originally want to get involved in the Parental Engagement project?

We thought there was a need to reach out to the parents that were not really engaged with their children's learning. We have got a lot of children with special educational needs and learning difficulties. We felt that our parents were finding it difficult to support their children at home with their learning, engage with their children due to busy family life and other circumstances.  

We thought this was a perfect opportunity for us to open up our doors to this parental engagement project, and from this we’ve noticed the parents that didn’t actually engage are actually engaging and children – more children – are being enthusiastic about the learning, about maths.

The main reason we wanted to get involved was for the children and their parents to engage with the learning – to do maths at home, and open up to maths, to see more outside the box other than to see it as traditional sums. 

How would you say parental engagement was at your school before?

To begin with I would say we did have lots of involvement, but we didn’t have enough engagement, so we didn’t have parents coming in actually taking part with their children in the learning. Once we opened up to parental engagement we realised that we were actually reeling in more parents. We were getting more parents through the door than we did before, and they were engaged, they were taking part, they were taking activities home, keen to ask questions and find out more.

We strongly feel and can actually see how successful this project has been. Parents coming in, children really willing to share their learning with everyone – the whole community involved in maths! The children that used to sit back and were reluctant to take part, are actually taking part and there’s a real difference in their self-esteem and motivation. You can really tell – it seems like we’ve got different children now due to this project.   

Did you face any problems before or during this project?

We found out that parents were shying away from the workshops, thinking that it might be something to do with their maths skills, because parents (our parents) some of them find it difficult to communicate with maths/mathematical language. So, for these workshops we had additional resources out on the tables, concrete resources for the parents to see, so they could use it if they needed it. We’re constantly praising the parents at the door, and in fact loads of children used to struggle with completing the home learning but now with this, they are actually motivated to show their workbooks, what they have done they’re feeling good about maths and they love it. They love maths, the children just cannot get enough of the family maths home learning, and that’s what we want.  

What impact would you say the project has had on parental engagement at your school?

We’re getting more parents involved and it’s a different family member every time, so most of the time if Mum isn’t sitting down it would be a brother or a sister or a dad. Their engagement, their motivation, has actually risen very high.

What would you say to schools who say ‘why bother?’ or ‘We are just too busy’?

Take part in it and never give up – if you aim high, take part, have fun - you will definitely succeed.

Find out more about this parental engagement project

In a recent parental engagement project, run by National Numeracy in partnership with UBS, 10 schools in London were provided with scrapbooks and activities. This project aimed to increase confidence with maths amongst children, as well as improve the confidence of parents in supporting their children’s learning.

Visit the Family Maths Toolkit

The Family Maths Toolkit is full of ideas to help parents, families and children aged 13 and under enjoy everyday maths activities together. The site also offers resources to help teachers support family engagement with children's maths learning.