The Importance of Parent Engagement in Education

Chris Ivey / Insights, Community

19 February 2024

In recent weeks, I've had the pleasure of connecting with parents at our Primary Information Nights and Secondary Meet the Mentor evenings. These gatherings have provided a wonderful opportunity to begin the new year and strengthen connections among parents, teachers and staff. The response to these evenings has been fantastic and it has been wonderful to welcome parents to these events. Each time I have had the opportunity to speak, I have emphasised the importance of making connections with other parents, fostering a sense of community, and actively engaging with the College.

As a follow up to my article last week, I wanted to unpack a little more about what positive engagement looks like to me. At St Andrew’s the significance of parent engagement in our students’ learning has always been a fundamental aspect of our approach to education. The recently released Engaging Parents in Curriculum research project (2021-2023) report, reaffirms what we’ve always believed – that when parents and teachers collaborate as partners in a child’s education, student learning and wellbeing reach optimal levels.

Dr Linda Willis, the project lead from Griffith University, describes parent engagement as “bringing parents close to what their child is learning,” emphasising its pivotal role in academic, social and attitudinal outcomes. This research supports our ongoing commitment at St Andrew’s to creating an environment where parents actively participate in their child’s educational journey.  At its core this is about effective communication between the parent and teacher.  This can be an email, a phone call or an organised meeting outside the teaching day.  For parents, it is also about keeping an eye on the learning platforms, about coming along to sessions that help support you as parents.

One thing that sets us apart from other schools is our unique approach to reporting, ‘continuous reporting’. While we still provide semester reports, our continuous reporting process enables parents to track their child's progress and receive feedback in real-time, providing opportunity for ongoing conversations and engagement with their child's learning.

While our information nights provide parents with the opportunity to engage with the bigger picture, continuous reporting allows for personalised engagement, enabling parents to support their child along their individual journey.

The College constantly explores avenues to enhance parent engagement, such as the upcoming Citizen Scientists event ‘Find-a-Frog’ for Year 7 Science. This event like many others, not only involves parents in the learning experience but also connects academic endeavours to real world scenarios, emphasising the value of education beyond the classroom.

In the Primary school, parents and carers are provided with various opportunities throughout the year to engage with their child’s learning, from the Ignite Showcase in Years 5 and 6, to Music Immersion concerts and Market Day. Recognising the challenges in providing similar opportunities in our Secondary School, our continuous reporting and information nights become even more vital as a means for parents to stay actively engaged.

I acknowledge that attending parent evenings may be seen as an additional commitment, especially for busy/working parents. However, I do want to advocate for connections – for finding time to engage with your child’s teacher, Mentor or Head of Year. These people care a lot about your children, they see and interact with your children almost every day. Drop them an email and make time that suits to chat about your child’s journey outside the teaching day.

Our collective efforts, whether through participation in our information evenings and events, embracing continuous reporting, or supporting upcoming initiatives, play a crucial role in building a thriving community and contributing to the success of our students.

Author Profile

Chris Ivey

In his own words, Chris “enables things to happen” at St Andrew’s. As Principal of the College, he leads the development and progression of St Andrew’s by enabling staff and students to achieve their personal best. Chris is a Reverend and has been the Principal of St Andrew’s for more that 15 years. He also represents and advocates for Independent schools across Australia as the National Chair of AHISA (Association of Heads of Independent Schools, Australia).

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