Evidence for Learning: Working with parents to support children’s learning

Working with parents to support children’s learning

Four recommendations to support schools improve student outcomes through partnership with parents.

First Edition


School Phase

Secondary, Primary

This Guidance Report reviews the best available research to offer schools and teachers four recommendations to support parental engagement in children’s learning.

Parents1 play a crucial role in supporting their children’s learning, and levels of parental engagement are consistently associated with better academic outcomes. Evidence from our Teaching & Learning Toolkit suggests that effective parental engagement can lead to learning gains of +4 months over the course of a year. 

Yet it can be difficult to involve all parents in ways that support children’s learning, especially if parents’ own experiences of school weren’t positive.

This is why we’ve produced this Guidance Report, designed to support primary and secondary school leaders to work with parents.

It offers four clear and actionable recommendations which we hope will support an evidence-informed approach to working with parents.

  • Recommendation 1: Critically review how you work with parents.

  • Recommendation 2: Provide practical strategies to support learning at home.

  • Recommendation 3: Tailor school communications to encourage positive dialogue about learning.

  • Recommendation 4: Offer more sustained and intensive support where needed.

Evidence for Learning has produced another Guidance Report Putting Evidence to Work: A School’s Guide to Implementation which can be used as a guide as you plan to implement changes in your school relating to engaging parents.

Implementation can be described as a series of stages relating to thinking about, preparing for, delivering, and sustaining change. The section Acting on the evidence, suggests a range of strategies that you might find helpful in planning, structuring and delivering a whole‑school approach to improving engagement with parents. 

1. Throughout this report, wherever we refer to parents we mean parents and carers, or families, including, for example, grandparents and older siblings when they have significant caring responsibilities for children. We intend parents to be an inclusive term to encompass the significant variation in family structures.

This Guidance Report and supporting materials are licensed under a Creative Commons licence as outlined below. Permission may be granted for derivatives, please contact Evidence for Learning for more information.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International Licence.