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Three steps to better engage hard to reach parents

Most schools will tell you that parents generally fall into three camps - those they struggle to engage, those who engage fully with their child’s learning and those parents we sometimes call “over-engaged”.

No parent would describe themselves as “hard to reach” but this is often the group that schools are most concerned about. With parental engagement now widely understood to have such a positive impact on student outcomes it is little wonder that it is a topic of some concern for schools.


So what can they do to help these parents become a more active part of the learning conversation?

In our latest eBook - Unlocking Hard to Reach Parents we look at the strategies that schools are using to work with this group. Whilst every school is different, there are three steps to consider which will help schools look at the way they engage all of their parents and get more out of the home-school partnership.


  1. What does parent engagement mean?
    Firstly, it is important to consider what parent engagement means. Context here is everything with engagement in a primary school likely to look significantly different to that in a large secondary school for example. Before school leaders can decide on a parent engagement strategy they will need to decide what success will look like in their school, and what this will look like for teachers, students and parents.

  2. How can you identify engagement?
    It is also important to be able to identify when engagement is taking place. It's not just the ‘noisiest’ parents who are engaging, but if schools are to know which families they particularly need to work with, then being able to identify the different ways they are working with the school will be important.

  3. Which channels of communication should be used?
    Good engagement is all about communication, but with the plethora of options available to schools, it is not always easy to know which channels to use. Research recently commissioned by Firefly indicated that email was still the preferred option amongst parents, followed by face-to-face and an online parent portal. In practice, most schools will sue a combination of approaches, but knowing what to use and when will make a real difference to how well they can engage families.

With the role of parents having undergone such a transformation in recent years, and the impact of parent engagement on learner outcomes well documented, it is more important than ever that schools find a way to work with those parents who are struggling to engage with their child’s school and learning. Now is the time to look at engagement in a different way and make sure that the technology schools are using continues to meet both their requirements and the needs of parents.

Download our eBook today and find out what successful schools are doing. It's full of strategies and ideas to help schools use technology to support an effective engagement strategy, with the information you need to kick-start your parent engagement strategy for 2023.

You can also watch our webinar on engaging with this harder-to-reach group of parents. We spoke to Daniel Locke-Wheaton, School Principal, and Sukhvinder Ubhi, Leading Practitioner in Teaching and Learning, at Aston University Engineering Academy to discuss how they are using data to inform their strategy.

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