James Whitaker
At Parent Hub we believe that research is a vital part of understanding how we can improve Parental Engagement and support teachers and schools to deliver better engagement with learning. We’ve updated our research and resource summary with some great new links. Have a look and please get in touch if you know about any great articles we should be reading!

Parental engagement toolkit

University of Bath

Parental engagement in children’s learning is one of the best ways to narrow any gaps in academic achievement. At the moment, many schools don’t support a level of engagement that actually benefits children.

The purpose of this project was to test a new parental engagement toolkit within the community.


What is ‘Parental Involvement’ and ‘Parental Engagement’?

Education Scotland, National Improvement Hub

‘Parental engagement’ most often refers to parents’ engagement in their child’s learning at home, at school, and in the wider community. Parental engagement is supported by discussion between parents/practitioners and focuses on how families can build on what they already do to help their children’s learning and provide a supportive home learning environment.

Parents as partners: How to get families reading together in the early years

National Literacy Trust

The Early Reading Connects toolkit contains tips, research and best practice examples to help early years practitioners and settings involve families with young children in reading.


‘The Impact of Parental Involvement, Parental Support and Family Education on Pupil Achievements and Adjustment: A Literature Review’ 

Charles Desforges with Alberto Abouchaar – Department for Education and Skills, 2003

“It is widely recognised that if pupils are to maximise their potential from schooling they will need the full support of their parents. Attempts to enhance parental involvement in education occupy governments, administrators, educators and parents’ organisations across North America, Australasia, continental Europe, Scandinavia and the UK. It is anticipated that parents should play a role not only in the promotion of their own children’s achievements but more broadly in school improvement and the democratisation of school governance.”


‘Review of best practice in parental engagement’

Janet Goodall and John Vorhaus with Jon Carpentieri, Greg Brooks, Rodie Akerman, and Alma Harris– Department For Education, 2011.

This report presents a review of studies of interventions aimed at supporting and improving parental engagement in the education of children aged 5-19, and which also offer evidence on educational outcomes.

“ICT can contribute to improved parental engagement by providing a convenient means for parents to access up-to-date information about their child’s learning. ICT enables parents to be more engaged with their child’s learning, and supports more flexible working arrangements for staff.”



Teacher Guide: Parental Engagement and Narrowing the Gap in Attainment for Disadvantaged Children

Helen Aston Hilary Grayson – National Foundation for Educational Research, September 2013

“Working with parents to form positive ways of managing children’s behaviour can in itself be important for improving children’s achievement”



Which type of parenting programme best improves child behaviour and reading? The Helping Children Achieve Trial

Celia Beckett, Jeni Beecham, Moira Doolan, Tamsin Ford, Angeliki Kallitsoglou, Stephen Scott & Kathy Sylva, with the HCA study teams



Parental involvement – Toolkit Strand

Education Endowment Foundation May 2016

Parental Involvement covers the active engagement of parents in supporting their children’s learning at school. This includes programmes focused on parents and their skills (such as improving literacy or IT skills), general approaches to encourage parents to support their children to read or do mathematics, and more intensive programmes for families in crisis.

“Developing effective parental involvement to improve their children’s attainment is challenging”



National Numeracy Parental Engagement Report ‘PARENTAL ENGAGEMENT AND FIRM FOUNDATIONS FOR ALL’

We have been funded by the Paul Hamlyn Foundation to carry out development work on parental engagement in maths and the firm foundations of early number understanding for adults. This has allowed us to take the first steps in these two very important areas.



National Numeracy Family Maths Toolkit

The Family Maths Toolkit is full of ideas to help parents, families and children aged 13 and under enjoy everyday maths activities together.

The site also offers resources to help teachers support family engagement with children’s maths learning.



Too Young to Fail. Save the Children

Hollie Warren, and Will Paxton. 2013.

Fewer than one in six children from low-income families who have fallen behind by the age of seven will go on to achieve five good GCSEs, including English and maths.

Disadvantaged children go on to face more limited chances in their adult lives. This is in large part because of an enduring ‘achievement gap’: the gap in outcomes between disadvantaged children (in this country measured by uptake of free school meals) and their better-off peers (those not entitled to free school meals).

This gap means that by the time they are seven, nearly 80% of the difference in GCSE results between rich and poor children has already been determined. Given how critical literacy and numeracy are to gaining employment and success in later life, this is of particular concern.



Family Learning Works: The inquiry into Family Learning in England and Wales

National Numeracy – 2013

‘Family learning’ refers to any learning activity that involves both children and adult family members, where learning outcomes are intended for both, and contributes to a culture of learning in the family.


Family learning matters because parental engagement in family learning has a large and positive impact on children’s learning, giving children greater confidence and self-belief, with measurable benefits to their literacy, language and numeracy skills. It matters because for parents – especially those parents who are considered ‘hardest to reach’ – the wish to better support their children is often the key motive in overcoming any practical, financial or dispositional barriers to learning. Just as importantly, family learning matters because it is a source of stimulation, joy and solidarity for adults and children alike. Disadvantaged adults can be brought back to learning, and encouraged to develop through their families. Parental involvement in school is more than four times as important as socio-economic class in influencing academic performance



How to Involve Hard-to-Reach Parents – Encouraging Meaningful Parental Involvement with Schools.

Clare Campbell – National College for School Leadership, 2011

Parental engagement plays a key factor in children’s success at school. But some parents have little interaction with school, failing to attend meetings or respond to communications.

So how do schools identify and engage with these hard-to-reach parents? Key areas for schools to focus on include harnessing technology as an outreach, working with fathers and families as a whole, and using the community to improve contact.



Engaging parents in raising achievement – do parents know they matter?

Professor Alma Harris and Dr Janet Goodall, University of Warwick, 2007

It is parental support of learning within the home environment that makes the maximum difference to achievement.

Parental engagement is a powerful lever for raising achievement in schools. Where parents and teachers work together to improve learning, the gains in achievement are significant.


Parents have the greatest influence on the achievement of young people through supporting their learning in the home rather than supporting activities in the school. Parents of certain ethnic and social groups are less likely to engage with the school. However, schools that offer bespoke forms of support to these parents (i.e. literacy classes, parenting skill support) are more likely to engage them in their children’s learning.



Reframing Family Involvement in Education: Supporting Families to Support Educational Equity

Heather B. Weiss,       Suzanne M. Bouffard, Beatrice L. Bridglall, Edmund W. Gordon, 2009

This research review, part of the Equity Matters research initiative at the Campaign for Educational Equity at Teachers College, Columbia University, argues that family involvement in education is a powerful but neglected tool to support children’s learning and development. Beginning with a brief historical overview of conceptions of family roles and responsibilities in children’s learning, this paper next offers a review of recent research on the ways in which expectations and support for family involvement have shifted, particularly with respect to economically disadvantaged and racial and ethnic minority families. Research suggests that low-income families have fewer opportunities for involvement in their children’s education and are less involved in many ways.http://www.hfrp.org/publications-resources/browse-our-publications/reframing-family-involvement-in-education-supporting-families-to-support-educational-equity

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