Family engagement is the key to successful pupils

Family engagement is the key to successful pupils

Teachers know that when parents are engaged and supportive, pupil behaviour and school results are highly likely improve.

It’s a formula for success.

A report by Save The Children which looked at family support across a number of countries including the UK, USA, and New Zealand in 2009 found that it was “one of the most significant contributors to children’s continued success in the education system”.

The report highlighted the work of various scheme which offered support, education, and involvement in learning to parents.

It said the best outcomes happened when the whole family was involved in learning – benefitting children and parents.

That’s why many schools now have a family engagement officer.

They are the bridge between staff and parents – helping parents become actively involved in their children’s education.

The role of the FEO

Family engagement officers (FEOs) enable pupils to achieve their full potential.

FEOs offer families support to help children in a non-judgmental way.

Many FEOs work with children who are eligible for free school meals or who are in areas of high deprivation.

Their aim is to increase the involvement of parents and other family members in school life.

Often, they work with guidance support teams to look at the barriers to learning pupils face, and what can be done to overcome them. That might be working with parents to improve attendance or punctuality.

FEOs work with children displaying challenging behaviour, suffering from low self-esteem, and some work with able or gifted pupils who are having difficulties in school.

They provide workshops in the school and the community on subjects like supporting revision and study skills or parenting skills.

They also take part in other school-community projects.

For example, Lansdowne Primary in Cardiff has an active parental engagement programme which encourages parents and carers to come into classes and help with subjects like maths and reading.

Its FEO and pupil attendance officer travelled to Ferrol, Spain, to find out how schools there engage parents.

Lansdowne Primary is involved in a two-year study with primary schools in Spain and Poland which focuses on parental engagement.

It’s also set to open a coffee shop for parents, run by parents, and pupils also have visits from members of an intergenerational project.

FEOs also carry out home visits and work with other agencies, and they give parents impartial information about the services and support available to them.

The aim is to foster excellent relationships between families and schools.

Many schools see them as a ‘critical friend’, able to look at ways they can improve communication and engagement with parents.

Key things an FEO does for students:

  • Acts as a role model.
  • Listens to their concerns.
  • Helps break down barriers to learning.
  • Supports their emotional and social welfare, and supports their health and wellbeing.

What can parents and schools do to support them?

Parents can support FEOs by actively taking part in workshops and community programmes, and by seeing them as approachable supporters. Supporting the messages they’re giving pupils is important – that good attendance and behaviour is vital, and that learning is both important and fun.

Schools can listen to and act on feedback from FEOs about their communication and ways they can improve engagement with the community.

Schools can define the FEO role clearly, create a policy for parental involvement, provide guidelines for home visits, document meetings, organise parenting initiatives, and engage effectively with families.

Find out more abour out FEO toolkit here:

Gain a deeper understanding of the role of the FEO on our one-day courses just email for course dates and more information.

NSM Training & Consultancy provides expert training for headteachers, teachers, and school staff. Read more about the work here:

The company was established by international education consultant and teacher Nicola S Morgan. She developed a reputation for excellence in dealing with the most difficult pupils and now runs training courses for schools and parents and is a published author in the field.