A new study published in the European Economic Review (volume 111) has revealed the real impact of parent-teacher meetings.
Asad Islam reported on a randomised experiment in rural Bangladeshi schools, communities which usually see little engagement between parents and educators. With the introduction of regular parent-teacher meetings, student attainment dramatically increased, suggesting the very real benefits of parental engagement. During the two-year intervention, children in years 4 and 5 learned roughly double across all subjects, including English, Maths and Science.
The experiment also changed teaching methods, with teachers utilising visual aids and real-world examples to teach concepts, rather than sticking to textbook learning. At home, parents and siblings became more involved in the homework process and students were more likely to receive private tutoring in areas requiring a little more attention. Students were motivated to spend increased time studying – confidence around exams grew and so, too, did their ambitions.
Breaking home/school barriers
While parent-teacher meetings are a long-term tradition in the UK, rising student populations and teacher-workload can make planning and preparing for evenings difficult. For this reason (and many others) monthly or very regular meetings are impractical for UK schools and parents. Both teachers and office staff are balancing their own heavy workloads, making it difficult to squeeze in time to plan appropriately, and today’s busy parents find it hard to fit appointments into their already booked-up calendars. In fact, even encouraging some mums and dads to commit to occasional appointments and respond to invitations can prove difficult! As in Islam’s investigation, a lack of confidence in approaching schools is often prevalent in ‘unengaged’ parents. Unfortunately, often this can be misinterpreted by schools as disinterest on the parents’ part. However, as proven in the study, once a parent is involved in their child’s education, their confidence around the school environment grows – so, too, does home/school engagement and students benefit as a result.
On the rare occasions in which parents and teachers do get the chance to discuss student progress, it’s important that both parties get the most out of the meeting and parents feel encouraged to come back next term. Parent-teacher conferences are a great opportunity to break down barriers and improve relationships with the parent community. For this reason, it is very important to make the experience a positive one. This means preparing staff and parents with all the information they need to ensure the evening is beneficial. For some parents, even finding their way to the right classroom can be a daunting experience. The devil is in the detail and utilising all the tools at your disposal can support your team in preparing a successful evening from start to finish.
Building parent/teacher partnerships
Parents’ Evening Manager makes booking appointments easy for parents, resulting in a great response for schools. Cutting out pupil post with the free ParentMail app and push notifications enables busy parents to respond to invitations on-the-go and at a time convenient for them. The flexible platform gives schools the option to allow parents to include notes when booking, enabling teachers to plan in advance. Schools can also provide parents with extra detail and information, such as instructions on where to go upon arrival and guidance on what to expect on the night. As such, parents feel prepared and confident to meet with teachers and appointments run smoothly.
In the office, staff are organised and able to report on timetables with ease. The platform syncs with SIMS and other MIS, enabling easy class and subject selection; appointments can be easily amended and deleted, and reminders can be re-sent to parents yet to respond.
Parents’ Evening Manager is supporting thousands of primary and secondary schools to plan smooth and seamless parents’ meetings. Get in touch to find out more and to book a free demo!