Lansdowne Primary School has successfully increased its parental engagement through workshops, groups, an open door policy and even a coffee shop. This has helped develop effective relationships with pupils’ families and provides early intervention opportunities when issues arise.
Information about the school
Lansdowne Primary School is in Canton, an inner-city area of Cardiff. There are 454 pupils on roll aged 3-11, including 37 part time nursery children. There are seven foundation phase classes, including the nursery, and 10 key stage classes. The rolling average of pupils eligible for free school meals is 26%, which is above the national average. Around half of the pupils are from minority ethnic backgrounds, and around half of the pupils speak English as an additional language. A very small number of pupils speak Welsh at home. Around 25% of the pupils are identified as having a special educational need, slightly above the national average (21%). A very small number of pupils have a statement of special educational needs.
The headteacher has been in post since November 2013.
Context and background to the effective or innovative practice
The new school leadership team (SLT) quickly identified that engaging with families was going to be key to developing the wellbeing of pupils, and key to developing a school community. Leaders actively sought out opportunities to work with outside agencies who have experience of working with families, including Save the Children and Families Connect. This began a cycle of successful programmes and workshops being run with families. These workshops enable a number of parents to gain qualifications and to gain employment.
A range of useful strategies is used to support leaders to identify barriers in working with different groups of parents and different communities. This work includes setting up a parent group with representatives from different faiths: a group that has supported the school with a wide remit, including the writing of schemes of work and policies, and thesetting up of a range of parent workshops and family engagement days. Through their support, the school has been able to reach out to families that have traditionally been hard to engage.
Following analysis of parent questionnaires, the school began a further area of work with families. The school identified that many fathers felt disengaged in their children’s education. Consequently, the school worked with a group of fathers to see how they could better support them to engage with the shool. New systems were introduced, which enabled better lines of communication with fathers who have joint custody of their children.
The school also set up a parent coffee shop, which is open daily, where parents can meet and come into the school in an informal way. This is a useful opportunity for different support agencies from the community to be available to offer support and guidance to families. Initially, the school staff ran the coffee shop, but then this responsibility was handed over to the parents.
As well as having an open door policy, where a member of the SLT is available to speak with parents on the phone or in person, a member of the SLT is on the school gate every day. This provides a practical means of direct communication with parents. The school’s parents can share any important information, and this is a worthwhile opportunity to build rapport with families by sharing good news with them. The school has created a dedicated time every day where teachers are available to speak to parents.
What impact has this work had on provision and learners’ standards?
Through developing really effective relationships with families, the school is able to intervene early if they identify that there are difficulties with, for example, attendance or behaviour. In the majority of cases, this means that they are able to support families before things become a bigger issue and this has led to improved attendance and improved behaviour across the school.
How have you shared your good practice?
The school has worked closely with two pathfinder schools and their cluster of schools in order to share the practice and to continue to seek out further opportunities to engage families based on the good practice that they have seen in other settings.