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Parents in the dark over kids' education, study finds

33% feel that overburdened teachers don't have enough time to keep parents updated

Posted by Hannah Vickers | March 01, 2017 | Teaching

Parents are feeling out of touch with their children’s studies, with two fifths (42%) admitting they don’t know what their child is doing at school.

This is according to new research from Canvas, the Virtual Learning Environment, which investigated parental engagement in primary and secondary school education. The study comes at a time when PTA UK is calling on the government to do more to engage parents in schools, arguing that closer collaboration leads to better outcomes. 

Two thirds (67%) of parents with children in primary or secondary education agree there needs to be a closer relationship between parents and teachers, while a third (33%) even go so far as to suggest that some teachers are ‘reluctant’ to involve parents in education.

The fact that the same proportion (33%) also feel that their child’s teachers don’t have enough time for them suggests that many overburdened education professionals simply lack the capacity to keep parents regularly in the loop with their child’s progress. This is supported by data from an earlier survey, which shows that more than two in three (61%) teachers feel that they are spending more time on marking now than they were five years ago. 

Interestingly, it is primary school parents who feel most detached from their children’s studies (42% vs 39% secondary), and who have a greater appetite for closer collaboration. Seven in ten (71%) want a closer relationship with teachers versus 62% of secondary school parents, and two thirds (66%) feel their child would benefit from them being more involved, compared to just half (52%) of those at secondary school.

When considering the best approach to improve engagement, studies show that participating in training, shared reading programmes and greater parent/teacher communication have all been shown to increase parental confidence and involvement. Furthermore, two in three (67%) parents feel that schools could make better use of technology to implement these practices, reducing the strain on teachers and keeping parents up to date. This belief that technology enables better communication rises to 75% among primary school parents.

Schools and colleges have a duty to involve parents in their children's study, recognising that a closer relationship with this group can only help to further engage, motivate and inspire students - Craig Ring, Rooks Heath College

Craig Ring of Rooks Heath College commented on the importance of involving parents in education: "While I frequently hear about a lingering disconnect between schools and families – with parents feeling that they aren’t as involved as they should be in their children's’ education, at Rooks Heath the crucial role of parents is supported and nurtured. 

“Schools and colleges have a duty to involve parents in their children's study, recognising that a closer relationship with this group can only help to further engage, motivate and inspire students. Technology plays a vital role in bringing parents and teachers together, enabling ongoing collaboration and enabling a more joined up approach to education."

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