We have reached the point in the Autumn term where the first parents evening of the year have been taking place. The advent of online parent meetings and virtual lesson delivery during the pandemic created a new opportunity to increase parent engagement. It seems that there is still much to learn here. An Edurio Parent Experience survey of 38000 parents and staff from 968 schools was published last week. While the majority (58%) of the parents and carers who responded stated they were completely or quite satisfied with the school’s efforts to engage them as parents in the 2022/2023 academic year, one in five parents (21%) felt only slightly satisfied or not satisfied at all with the school’s efforts to engage them. This of course only includes parents who would consider completing a survey, but of these 13% of respondents felt only slightly respected or not respected at all by their school.
There will often be a tension between the operations of a school as educators, and parents as primary caregivers, particularly if parents feel ignored. Some parents will have had poor experiences of education themselves, and building a good level of trust can be a complex and at times a very difficult business. Teachers, particularly those new to the profession, can get quickly out of their depth. Interestingly in the survey, only 43% of staff across all stages reported that was easy or very easy to get support with parental engagement at their school with 14% of respondents feeling it was difficult. Headteachers who can end up navigating issues on the back foot, know only too well ensuring this support and guidance is provided early is critical in preventing things from escalating. Several Camden schools now have family support leads with a network meeting being held on Monday 20th November, and there are many other examples across Camden of schools successfully creating opportunities for parents to get involved.
The benefits for young people knowing that their parents are engaged and interested in their schooling are evident. However, schools must work to gain trust and interest. Knowing parent needs including who will need the most support and who is not being reached is as important as knowing pupils. This all takes some thought and organisation, but the meaningful engagement and trust of parents is essential to creating a truly inclusive school culture. Whilst this can sometimes feel like a thankless task, it is very much worthwhile.
Thank you as always, and enjoy the weekend when it comes for you.
Chief Executive Officer, Camden Learning