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Top tips for effective home school partnerships

Focus on developing relationships by:

  • Making a sincere effort to make parents feel welcome and valued.
  • Staff being visible and available, e.g. a welcoming smile in the morning or being present on the school gate.
  • Respecting parents’ choices, and give their opinions, ideas and requests real consideration.
  • Developing empathy by trying to see the child or young person’s situation from the parents’ perspective.
  • Trusting families and encouraging them to trust you through open and honest communication.
  • Demonstrating reliability, confidentiality, sound judgement, openness and honesty.
  • Asking about the child or young person’s likes and dislikes, and their strengths and weaknesses.
  • Ask the family about ways to share their culture, for example, food, music, photos, and traditions with the class. This will his help strengthen the child’s self-esteem, enrich the learning experience for the entire class and foster an appreciation of diversity.
  • If there is a problem staff should make contact with a family as soon after it has been identified, so a timely solution can be found. Waiting too long can create new problems, possibly through the frustration of those involved. If staff or parents have said they will do something make sure they do what they say they will do.
  • Provide parents with frequent, ongoing feedback about how their child is performing academically and in their social development. This can be informally or formal feedback.

By developing these positive relationships between the teacher and the parent the parents will feel able to provide details about their child or young person’s home life including any recent changes. This will enable the teacher to have a complete understanding of each child in their class so they are better able to meet needs. Useful information could include parent relationship information, family or pet bereavement, illness, traditions or rituals, languages spoken at home, and other significant details unique to the child.

Be sensitive to barriers that prevent parents from participating as much as they would like.  For example, don’t perceive a lack of communication from parents as disinterest but seek to understand and work with the parents to build a relationship. For example, through phone calls, meeting in a neutral space or home visits to liaise with these parents.

Plan homework carefully so that it can enable greater parental involvement. Interactive homework where the child or young person and the parent work together helps can increase parental involvement at home. If shared family homework is set, it is important to provide a time to support those who may not have as much support at home .To support greater parental involvement, consider including the following when giving homework:

  • Specific guidelines for parents alongside those for the child or young person. 
  • Clarify expectations regarding the amount of time spent on homework, how much help to give, and how to deal with challenging questions.
  • Offer parents a range of strategies for helping their child.
  • Set interactive homework tasks that are hands-on and relevant.
  • Support parents of older children to encourage good homework habits and create a regular routine, space and materials for homework completion.

Further support

The West Sussex SEND Information, Advice and Support (SENDIAS) Service have developed a SENDIAS school information folder to support parent engagement. This opportunity enables good practice to be demonstrated and certification to be achieved. For more information view the ‘working with schools’ section of the SENDIAS website.

Last updated 2 October 2020

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