Parents are a child’s first and most important teachers. When parents are engaged in their child’s education, children are more likely to succeed. However, many parents feel disenfranchised from their children’s school, especially those who come from marginalised communities.
It’s important to regularly communicate with parents and their children to find the best solution possible. This is so parents can feel secure regarding their child’s safety and personal development. Parents might have many pressures in their lives and keep their children off school, which could lead to many implications. The government outlines how:
“You’ll get a School Attendance Order if the local council thinks your child is not getting an education. You have 15 days to provide evidence that you’ve registered your child with the school listed in the order or that you’re giving them home education. If you do not, you could be prosecuted or given a fine.”
Parents must be supported to understand what services are on offer and what risks are involved when not engaging with their child’s education. Finding the best solution that fits all can help obtain better experiences.
Try different methods to achieve better outcomes
- Make parents feel welcome and respected – This means creating a school environment where parents feel comfortable coming and going, and where their voices are heard and valued. Schools can do this by holding regular parent-teacher conferences, hosting parent events, and providing translation services for non-English-speaking parents.
It’s also important to make it as easy as possible for parents to get involved with their child’s education and encourage them to do so. This could be achieved by offering a variety of ways for parents to participate, such as volunteering in the classroom, attending school events, and serving on parent committees. Schools could also be flexible in terms of meeting times and locations.
- Provide a collaborative approach for parents regarding services – There are many services and alternatives on offer that parents can take advantage of. It’s important to be flexible and understand the specific needs of both parents and their children and identify what type of support they need.
Highlighting why a child may be exhibiting persistent or severe absence can help address their specific needs and you can implement the best solutions possible. For example, those with mental health challenges or who have experienced bullying could benefit from online learning due to the less intrusive environment it can present allowing for expansive academic development.
- Build rapport – Creating an element of trust and authenticity in relationships between a school and parents is essential to overcome any barriers that might appear. Become immersed in their likes, interests and anything they might be doing, just as you would with a child when getting to know them. Parents will feel more valued and be more inclined to become more involved with the solutions a school might be offering.
Reconnect, re-engage and reintegrate
Students may experience low-level disruptive behaviour, mental health challenges or other instances why they not be attending school. It’s important to find a way to reconnect with parents and their children; admittedly this can be difficult. A good way to reconnect could be offering one-to-one support for their child, but it’s important to be wary of favouritism and ensure all students are receiving a high level of education and support.
Re-engaging students can happen in many forms. However, getting parents to re-engage can prove to be difficult. It has to be noted that parents can have challenging periods within their lives and therefore shouldn’t feel pressured into engaging; this should be done gradually.
Directing parents to appropriate childcare support, job training or support classes for their child could be an initial approach to support their child. As highlighted in the SEND and AP improvement plan, it’s important to:
“build parents’ trust: parents and carers experience a fairer, easily navigable system (across education, health and care) that restores their confidence that their children will get the right support, in the right place, at the right time.”
Ultimately parents need to have confidence that their child is receiving the best possible standard of education.
Additionally, positively reintegrating students back into a mainstream setting should be strived towards. Children need to have some sort of peer-on-peer interaction so they can be well-equipped to encounter difficulties in adult life. This can be done gradually, in small increments, such as for an hour or so in a separate room away from the main class and then slowly built up.
Use online learning to its advantage
Online learning has demonstrated its capacity to enhance engagement and support students’ education. Parents could engage more if they saw exactly what their child was learning with interactive features and continuous assessment implemented.
In addition to this, online learning can allow students to learn in a comfortable setting and allow parents to feel confident that their child is safe away from any external pressures they may experience in lessons.
An online alternative provision, such as EDClass, can support students with education and have one-to-one support from UK-qualified teachers. Parents can feel confident that their child is learning from high-quality educational resources and that they are receiving an outstanding education. EDClass staff can even arrange meetings with parents to show them the platform and organise a plan for their child.