5 Tips for Planning a CPD Session on Parental Engagement

Sep 23, 2021

As with all CPD sessions, it is important to discuss current practice, what works well and what requires improvement. Here are some tips on planning a CPD session around the theme of parental engagement.

1. Involve Everyone!

First and foremost, a CPD session on parental engagement must involve all staff. Any member of staff that communicates with parents should understand the school’s position on parental engagement and receive relevant training. Research shows that attempts by schools to engage parents in their children’s learning are unlikely to be successful if they represent a ‘bolt-on’ to mainstream activities[1]. So, schools must integrate a whole school approach to parental engagement and share their vision with all staff.

2. Define Parental Engagement.

A great way to begin parental engagement training is to talk about what parental engagement is and how it helps children’s learning and development. A good place to start with this is by looking at the Education Endowment Fund’s key findings in this area.

Parental Engagement is often mistaken for parental involvement, which can conjure thoughts of parent volunteers and PTAs. But it’s important to clarify that this is not what we mean by parental engagement!  Instead, parental engagement is about engaging families in their child's learning, positive relationships between home and school, and fostering a lifelong love of learning.

3. Reflect and Showcase. 

It’s important to reflect on good parental engagement strategies that are currently working well within your school. Ask staff to spend some time discussing and sharing parental engagement approaches which have worked well for their class.

With this reflection should come praise. Praising the team and acknowledging their efforts will always be appreciated and will give teachers confidence that they are already doing some great work to build positive relationships with parents.

Showcasing different strategies that teachers are using to engage parents can be inspirational for other teachers and remind staff of the importance of home-school relationships.

4. Keep an Open Discussion. 

As mentioned above, it’s important to involve all staff in training on parental engagement. Non-teaching staff such as receptionists, school nurses and lunchtime supervisors have first-hand experience of communicating with the parents in the school. There may already be ideas and strategies that are in place which work for the parents of your school. Opening the discussion to all staff encourages these ideas to be shared with the wider school.

Activity ideas:

  • Give each person or small group a parent engagement scenario asking them to discuss how they would deal with the scenario, sharing ideas or previous experiences on what has worked well for them
  • Place parental engagement scenarios around the room. Give each person a few sticky notes to write ideas of how they would, or how they have, dealt with each scenario.

5. Tailor Parental Engagement to your School Community.

It is important to recognise that not all parental engagement strategies will work for your school. Strategies must be implemented with a ‘trial and error’ approach and tailored to meet parental needs. Strategies must be monitored and reviewed regularly, removing the ones that do not work and growing those that do. Using a CPD session to review strategies is useful for all staff and their input will be valuable to the meeting.

Trialling parental engagement sessions with groups of parents and observing what works well and what requires revision is an excellent method to help you get to know your community better. In addition, planning a course of sessions to test strategies and resources is a great way to record and monitor what works well for your parents and children.

 

 

[1] Review of Best Practice in Parental Engagement. Goodhall and Vorhaus 2011

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