In recent news, Ofsted has stated that brighter students are being "systematically failed" by non-selective secondary schools in England. As a parent you are keen for your child to do well and reach their full potential, but what is the best way to go about that? Is it best to leave it to the school? Or would your child benefit from you becoming more involved in their learning?

Research has shown that the more involved parents are, the more successful their children will be at school.

The fact that you, as a parent or carer, are visiting the EdPlace website shows that you are interested in helping your child to achieve the very best that they are capable of and have high aspirations for them.

Your child did not just start learning when they started school. They had been learning for at least four years before that, and that learning came from you; so there is no reason why that should stop when they join the educational system.

In recent years, Ofsted have recognised the importance of how schools engage parents and involve them in the students learning. It is now acknowledged that learning needs to be a three away approach between, the school, the child and the parents or carers.

Ofsted will now not only look at the leadership within schools but also how the school engages parents, as this has been proved to be critical to achieving success.

Research has shown that parental engagement is a key factor in increasing pupils' achievement and the more involved parents are the more likely their children are to flourish; and that this involvement is beneficial to all children, regardless of background or the parents own attainment. This suggests that just the very act of parents playing a part in their child’s education is enough to boost the confidence of the child.

Some parents may not have had a very positive experience when they were at school and may feel slightly daunted by the prospect of engaging with their child in the very area where they felt uncomfortable. However, participating in your child’s learning doesn’t necessarily require a great academic ability.

Parents who spend time with their children from an early age, and onwards, are helping to develop many skills. Children learn a great deal through play and, if that time is spent with a parent, they will develop their communication skills and phonological awareness i.e. recognising the structure of words, and breaking them down into syllables and different sounds. This will, in turn, help greatly when that child is learning to read and write. Also, basic numeracy skills can be introduced through play and general day to day life. Family outings encourage the whole family to learn together and to try new experiences.

Many studies have been completed which look into the effects of implementing programmes that increase the involvement of families as a whole to a child’s school life.

Once such programme was the FAST programme (Families And Schools Together)
This programme had three main aims:

- to help children to succeed at school by improving behaviour through supporting home/school relationships
- to strengthen families by improving communication and confidence in both the children and their carers
- to strengthen communities

The programme promoted things such as the importance of sharing family meals, communication games, different groups of parents talking to each other and providing peer support, promoting one to one time with children and arranging meeting between parents and schools.

There were many positive outcomes of this programme, such as:

- the improvement of parent/child relationships by 19%
- 78% of families reported a better understanding of their children resulting in less family conflict
- 88% of parents felt more able to support their children
- conduct problems reduced by 39%
- emotional problems reduced by 40%

On the whole, it would seem that parental engagement plays a major part in enhancing - amongst other things - behaviour, attendance and attainment.

Children whose parents are more involved are proven to be more likely to succeed at school and approach school with a positive outlook. They are less likely to feel isolated and more likely to feel supported and this can go a long way to boosting self esteem, which when aspiring to reach you full potential is half the battle.

So, back to the original question. What is the best way to go about helping your child achieve their best at school?
Well as mentioned before, the very fact that you are reading this shows that you are already involved in your child’s learning and this can be built upon over the summer holidays.