Joyce Epstein, of Johns Hopkins University is generally accepted as the world leader in the field of Parental Engagement. In 1991, based on her research she made the following observation:
"Although most schools embrace the concepts of partnership and parent involvement, few have translated their beliefs into plans or their plans into action" Joyce Epstein, Johns Hopkins University
What was true in 1991 is true today. In 2011, Ofsted published "Schools and Parents," an evaluation of the relationship between school and home, based on evidence gathered from a range of sources.
Two of the nine Key Findings were:
"All the schools visited valued the key role of parents in their children's education but put this into effect in different ways, with very varied quality and outcomes."
"The schools' evaluation of the impact of their work with parents was poor."
No one is saying that schools go out of their way to put barriers in the way of parents, but few of us have done enough to investigate and dismantle the barriers that are already in place.
At the start of 2012, Ofsted changed the situation in England and Wales by placing a requirement on all schools to actively seek to engage all parents in the support of their children’s learning, as part of their judgment on Leadership and Management.
Our advice is to start with Joyce Epstein’s quote. Just because you think you’re doing parental engagement well, and some parents might tell you that you are, doesn’t mean that you actually are.
You need a vision and an unbiased audit.