How can GCSEPod help engage Parents?
Over the last 18 months it has been widely acknowledged just how grateful parents are for teachers as they suddenly had to take on this role for their children in lockdown. Faced with juggling teaching and their own jobs, parents up and down the country stepped up to the specific challenges Coronavirus brought to their families. With the start of the new academic year, we hope that something resembling life pre-COVID can be found. But we also hope that the effort of families to keep children learning through the toughest of circumstances should not be forgotten.
Research has consistently shown that parental engagement is so important to maximising children’s potential at all levels of their education and build a stronger school community feeling, yet all too often parents become disconnected with what is happening at school. The engagement and resilience shown by families across the country should be viewed as one of the positive stories to come out of the pandemic and it is really important that this momentum is not lost.
Parental disengagement can sometimes appear as disinterest but in reality, it could be due to a multitude of reasons. These could include barriers caused by their work commitments, a poor parent-school dialogue or even negative experiences of their own education. A struggle we have heard from many parents is an unpleasant sense of competition when it comes to parenting. It is of course important to encourage parents to set their children up to learn and thrive in the way that best suits them, but it is also really important that parents know that there is no shame in reaching out for a bit of help and advice as every child is different so there is not one right way of doing things. The Duchess of Cambridge spoke out last year about the rising cases of loneliness and isolation parents were feeling in lockdown, encouraging parents to find support within their communities. All of these things will make it difficult for schools to connect with parents which can be so frustrating for teachers. It is therefore really important that schools recognise these potential barriers when communicating with parents so they can find the best ways to engage possible.
At GCSEPod we want to make it as easy as possible for parents to become engaged with their children’s education. There are many ways teachers can use GCSEPod to encourage parents to become involved:
- GCSEPod makes it easy for parents to understand the subject content their child is learning, regardless of curriculum changes.
- Parents can login to track and monitor their child’s homework, usage and easily see areas in which they might be struggling.
- They can monitor the progress of their child throughout the year with our built-in reporting.
- We support parents with a range of free resources to help their child. On our website and social media channels there are shedloads of resources and advice for parents with the hope these can be a source of advice and encouragement.
- Our support team is on-hand to help and answer any questions especially during the holidays.
Our online resources include our Parent Toolkit which has been designed to easily share top tips with parents to support students outside of the classroom. The toolkit contains ‘how-to guides’ for logging into GCSEPod, using Check & Challenge, Learning Activities, ‘Getting Ready’ resources and building Playlists. Our ‘Getting Ready for GCSE’ and ‘Getting Ready for A-Level’ resources are made up of a collection of activities aimed at supporting pupils to ‘have a go’ at tasks, learning and skills which are required for their next key stage. We run parent webinars which focus on how GCSEPod can be used to support children’s learning with questions being answered by a GCSEPod expert. We also post daily help and support on all our social media channels, so encourage parents to give us a follow!
Don’t underestimate the power of parents!
When parents are engaged with schools great things happen! Evidence shows that children whose parents are engage do better, regardless of their background, than those whose parents are not involved in their education. It also benefits the whole school community. Having an active parent body means that the school remains informed about what works best for the families of school children and also raises the standards of teaching. A great example of parent power is The Hollyfield School in Kingston-Upon-Thames. The school was experiencing as squeeze of their budget when new chair of the PTA, Tyrone Cano, took charge. After much deliberation they identified GCSEPod as a project they would like to pilot for Hollyfield so set about fundraising; something which is far harder to do at a secondary than at primary. The ability to succeed with a project like this is a great example of why having engaged parents is so important. If parents did not understand the value in this type of project then there would be far less chance it would be a success; understanding this value will largely come from being engaged in school activities. Mr Cano said: “As a member of the PTA it is certainly good to know that we have had a direct hand in the ongoing success of the school; it makes the job all the more worthwhile.” You can find out more about Hollyfield’s success here. Building a strong school community involves and benefits everyone. Not every parent will have the time and resources to be involved in all aspects of school life but trying to ensure parents are at least engage in what their child’s education is a great start to achieving that sense of community.
As we move into the new academic year, we hope it will all seem a lot more familiar and students receive the school experience they need and deserve. We also hope parents can look back at their experience over last 18 months and feel proud of what their families achieved. This is a great opportunity for teachers to reach out to engage with parents. The more than whole school community is singing from the same hymn sheet the better! And we are always here to help!
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“I can’t speak highly enough about how helpful the GCSEPod team were throughout the whole process. Most importantly, teachers and students have found the resources relevant, excellent, and easy to use.”
Ian Lee, Yew Chung International School of Shanghai, China