What is the purpose of engaging parents and carers as a Thinking School?

What is the objective of a Thinking School? Thinking Schools are generally places in which a strong emphasis is put on developing student’s critical thinking and problem-solving skills and to foster independence and curiosity.

Emeritus Professor Bob Burden’s definition of a Thinking School is one that we often use with schools as they embark on this journey: “Benefits will also be shown in ways in which all members of the community interact with and show consideration for each other and in the positive psychological well-being of both students and staff.” It allows students the space to think about where they are going and why it is important. Often each school’s unique Thinking School vision evolved from the discussions with the Drive Team. 

At the start, under the direction of SLT, it is recommended that each school undertakes a baseline audit in order to establish the attitudes and perceptions of staff, students and parents to the school’s current practice in relation to independent thinking and learning. Exeter’s Accreditation criteria reminds us of the importance of inviting parents/carers into the process. To effect whole school change and become a community of thinking, it is important that all stakeholders are included in the process.

Engaging parents and carers in thinking schools is important for several reasons:

  1. Vision: Involving parents and carers can help create a sense of belonging and community within the school. This sense of belonging can positively impact a student’s overall well-being and make them feel more connected to their educational journey.
  2. Support: When parents are engaged, they can reinforce the importance of education, thinking skills and provide emotional support in the home setting, which can have a positive impact on a student’s motivation and attitude towards learning. By helping parents understand the story of learning at your school and introducing them to the common language, they are able to reinforce this at home. They are invited to become active participants in their child’s education.
  3. Success: Parental involvement can lead to improved academic outcomes for students as cited in a 2019 report by the American Psychological Association. When parents are aware of their child’s progress, they can provide additional help and resources, reinforcing what is taught in school and potentially addressing learning challenges early on. Sharing the metacognitive thinking tools that the school has chosen to embed invites collaboration and deepens parents’ understanding of their power.
  4. Feedback: Engaging parents and carers facilitates open lines of communication between the school and home. This allows for the exchange of information, feedback, and concerns, which can help address any issues or challenges a student may be facing. It allows the school to articulate the reasons you have decided to become a Thinking School and share your vision.
  5. Holistic Development: In a Thinking School, the learner needs to possess the motivation and perseverance to tackle problems and apply metacognitive strategies. Parents and carers often play a crucial role in the social and emotional development of a child helping them to identify their intrinsic motivations. Parental collaboration enhances the school’s knowledge of the child beyond their academic performance to include aspects of their character, wider interests and skills outside school.

When parents and carers engage with their child’s education, they serve as positive role models for lifelong learning. Children often emulate the attitudes and behaviours of their parents, so active parental involvement can instil a love for learning.

Therefore, engaging parents and carers is crucial for creating a comprehensive and supportive educational environment that promotes the academic, emotional, and social development of students. It fosters collaboration, communication, and a sense of shared responsibility between the school and the home, ultimately benefiting the student’s overall educational experience.

Thanks to all those who recently attended our online Drive Team meeting that covered this very subject and discussed ways that schools can engage parents and carers.

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