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Research piece

Engaging parents in raising achievement – do parents know they matter? (2007)

19 Jul 2018

It is parental support of learning within the home environment that makes the maximum difference to achievement. 

Parental engagement is a powerful lever for raising achievement in schools. Where parents and teachers work together to improve learning, the gains in achievement are significant.

Parents have the greatest influence on the achievement of young people through supporting their learning in the home rather than supporting activities in the school. Parents of certain ethnic and social groups are less likely to engage with the school. However, schools that offer bespoke forms of support to these parents (i.e. literacy classes, parenting skill support) are more likely to engage them in their children’s learning.

This is a report of a research project funded by the Department for Education and Skills that focused on parental engagement and pupil achievement. The research consisted of a review of the literature and in depth case studies with 30 schools over a twelve month period. 

All the schools in the research project were involved in the Engaging Parents in Raising Achievement (EPRA) programme. EPRA supported schools in developing a wide range of projects directly aimed at engaging parents in learning. The main aim of the EPRA project was to encourage schools to trial new ways of engaging parents in schools, particularly those parents seen as ‘hard to reach’. The research project explored the impact of different forms of parental engagement upon pupil achievement and behaviour. 

Successful strategies included:

Supporting parents to help their children learn by equipping parents with necessary knowledge and skills. This includes focused activities to help parents understand elements of the curriculum, advice about revision techniques at KS 3 and 4 as well as more diverse activities designed to stimulate parental engagement with schools and raise parents’ aspirations for their children. 

Personalising provision for parents as learners, building on evidence that parents own level of achievement and experience of the education system is a key determinant of their expectations for their children’s experience of learning. 

iReporting - exploring the most effective means of using new technologies to keep parents up to date with what their children are studying, how their children are progressing and what parents can do to help. 

Enhancing pastoral care, focusing on developing support for parents in their interactions with the school and with their child. 

Download the full report