Press release

20 June 2013

Narrowing the achievement gap: parents are the key, says report

Schools know how important it is to engage parents in their child’s learning – and that this is not always easy. A new study by the National Foundation for Educational Research (NFER) and the Oxford University Press (OUP) aims to help schools with this perennial challenge by highlighting the latest evidence on what makes for successful home-school relationships.

The study forms part of NFER’s submission of evidence to Ofsted’s Unseen Children -access and achievement 20 years on report, launched today by Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Education Sir Michael Wilshaw. In it, he notes: “The most successful schools also recognise that raising academic achievement cannot be tackled in isolation [and must be underpinned by] developing strong partnerships with parents and carers.”

Evidence shows that parental engagement in education can improve academic performance among disadvantaged youngsters and that schools can contribute significantly to enabling this. The most effective approaches take into account parents’ gender, cultural, linguistic or socio-economic background, and see schools working closely with other support agencies and experts to effect positive change for whole families such as improvements in literacy and employment opportunities.

The NFER/OUP report recommends that school-based interventions should:

NFER Research Director Helen Aston said: “We know that home plays a key role in a child’s education. By drawing together the latest evidence from both research and practice we hope to offer some pointers to schools for ways in which they can increase their engagement with parents and improve the links between home and school – always with the aim of benefitting children’s learning.

“Where a school chooses to try out an approach that seems to fit their own needs and circumstances, we would encourage them to be very clear at the outset what they are trying to achieve and how they will know if they are successful.”

Rod Theodorou, UK Primary and Children’s Business Unit Director, Oxford University Press, said: “Oxford University Press is delighted to be working with NFER on this important research. Our mission is to support teachers to improve the performance of every child, including those from disadvantaged groups - in this case by giving schools access to the best strategies to engage this group of parents in their children’s learning.”

The full report Rapid Review of parental engagement and narrowing the gap in attainment for disadvantaged children is available here. A guide for teachers based on the report’s findings will be available later this year.


Contact information:
Sarah Fleming, NFER Media & Communications Officer: 01753 637155;
Jane Parrack, NFER Marketing & Communications Manager: 01753 637245;

Note to editors:
This rapid review explored parental engagement in education, with a particular focus on closing gaps in attainment for disadvantaged pupils, and includes case studies and validated practice examples of how some schools have tackled this. It looked at research published subsequent to a Department for Education (DfE) review on the same topic (Goodall et al., 2011). NFER and the Oxford University Press co-funded the review.

About NFER
NFER is the UK’s largest independent provider of research, assessment and information services for education, training and children’s

About Oxford University Press
Oxford University Press is a department of the University of Oxford. It furthers the University's objective of excellence in research, scholarship and education by publishing worldwide. OUP is the world's largest university press with the widest global presence. It currently publishes thousands of new publications a year, has offices in around 50 countries, and employs some 6,000 people worldwide. It has become familiar to millions through a diverse publishing programme that includes scholarly works in all academic disciplines, bibles, music, school and college textbooks, children's books, materials for teaching English as a foreign language, business books, dictionaries and reference books, and academic journals.