General News

Raising Parental Engagement to Support Improved Attendance

Many cases of poor attendance referred to us as Education Welfare Officers are a direct result of a lack of effective engagement between parents and the school. This may be through parents not contacting the school – either to report and talk about the reason for their child’s absence and to seek support, or not being aware of the school’s expectations.

Although school communications have improved over the last few decades the level of engagement between schools and parents has not. Research shows that effective engagement often leads to increased attendance and it can also be linked to higher academic achievement and to a positive effect on pupil’s attitude to learning and on their behaviour.

Whilst it is the parent’s responsibility to contact the school to report an absence and provide a reason, communication has to be a two-way process. Schools which have good parental communication are often those that use a variety of methods and embrace the use of technology - through email, text messaging, social media, and a user-friendly school website have.  Research has shown that using a range of tools has made communication between parents and schools more timely, efficient, and productive.

Even when a school has established an effective engagement strategy there are likely to be some parents who remain hard to reach and it is this group of parents who are often those that a school needs to have more contact with. Their reluctance to engage may be due to their own experience of school or because they have difficulty with communicating, for example their own low literacy skills, their understanding of the English language or cultural differences.

The school’s Education Welfare Officer can support in reaching out to parents to get to the root of the lack of parental engagement and to encourage improved communication with the school to improve attendance. For those parents who are either reluctant or unable to attend meetings at the school, (or indeed who avoid such meetings), visiting them in their home can help to establish improved communication and provide the EWO with the opportunity to educate them on the impact of poor attendance and work with them to improve the outcomes of their children.

For information about how WPA can support your school through communication with parents to improve attendance please call on 0208 462 2716 or email swright@school-attendance.org.uk

Written by Sue Mellish
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