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How we work with schools to support parents

14 Sep 2022

By Anna Purcell, Project Manager

This year National Numeracy greatly scaled up our parental engagement programme.

In 2020-21 we had three schools completing the programme, but in 2021-22 this grew to 17 schools, with over 100 classes and more than 2200 pupils taking part!

We also reached over 200 parents and carers in total with our workshops.

Boy and woman high-fiving

Why is parental engagement important?

Parents, carers and families give children their first experiences of maths – and research shows that, in primary schools, family influences have a bigger impact than school on children’s attainment. There’s also evidence that children are more motivated to learn about maths when parents talk with them about numeracy in everyday life.

It’s vital to support parents to engage with their children around maths – and this is what the Family Maths parental engagement programme aims to do. We strive to improve parents’ confidence in supporting their children, thereby improving children’s own confidence, and to promote a maths-positive environment both at home and at school.

How did we do it?

This year our programme included six schools in London, six schools in the West Midlands, and five schools in East Ayrshire. At National Numeracy we especially focus on helping people with low confidence or competence with numbers in disadvantaged communities, where the need is greatest, so all participating schools were in identified “areas of need”.

As part of the programme this year, each school received:

  • In-person training for project lead teachers and senior leadership team members, on parental engagement strategies and how best to use National Numeracy’s Family Maths resources
  • ‘Becoming a Numeracy Champion’ training for project leads
  • A template action plan
  • Family Maths activities and scrapbooks for all children taking part
  • Two cluster meetings for each group of schools, giving project lead teachers the chance to share ideas and learnings and to access further support from National Numeracy
  • Ongoing remote support
  • A parent workshop about supporting children to develop positive attitudes towards maths
  • Access to the National Numeracy Challenge for parents and carers
  • Template communication materials about the project, the workshop, and the National Numeracy Challenge for schools to share with parents and carers

What were the results?

We delivered a mixture of in-person and online parent workshops, reaching over 200 parents/carers in total: 88% of those who attended told us that they felt more able to support their child with maths as a result of the session.

From class teacher surveys we know 71% of parents/carers in classes on the project engaged with their child on the Family Maths activities – and in London this rose to 91%!

Positive changes were seen in children’s confidence, attainment, and participation, in the extent to which children are confident about maths and participate confidently in class maths activities and discussions. Teachers told us that children are “more willing to talk to their families about maths”, “more likely to not give up on a challenge”, and “see the relevance of maths learning more”.

And we also got great feedback from the children themselves, talking about the activities:

  • "They are fun to do with Mummy and Daddy”
  • “I did it with my mum she always did them with me and it was a wee bit hard but we just had to figure out how to do them.”
  • “I like doing these because I like working as a team with my family when everyone is involved”

And parents, with such comments as:

  • “My child has enjoyed our time together working on the challenges and has developed more self-confidence”
  • “I feel like I know what he’s learning about and can ask him questions relating to what he’s learning at other times and in other situations to help him put what he’s learning into a wider context.”
  • “I’ve never been that confident with maths but by sitting down together and working out problems/sums it’s helped revisit areas that I lack confidence in.”

Of parents who completed the end-of-year survey and told us they had used the activities, 76% said it helped them feel better able to support their child. And feeding back on the workshops, 88% of participants felt more able to support their child as a result of the session.

We’re thrilled with the results of the scaled-up programme this year, with them showing once again how successful the programme is in promoting parental engagement in children’s maths learning. And we’re excited to continue building on this success, by delivering the programme in even more schools and supporting even more families in the 2022-23 school year!