The Leading Parent Partnership Award (LPPA)

George Stephenson High School is proud of its working relationships with parents and carers. Our vision is for parents, carers and families to continue to develop and enhance their involvement in the life of learning that their child experiences at our school. We want families to feel comfortable and happy to spend time in school working in partnership with our staff and to spend time at home with their child talking about learning.

In December 2012, as a result of our strong track record of working to support parents and carers, together with a wide variety of new initiatives, we were successful in achieving the Leading Parent Partnership Award (LPPA), for the first time. This award looks at how well we work with parents and carers, how welcoming the school is, and how we support parents in helping their child to learn. It was a very thorough but rewarding process and through it we began to realise our vision of parents, carers and families becoming even more involved in the life of learning that their child experiences at our school.

Even before our original LPPA award in December 2012 we had already come a long way as a school in the pursuit of our vision - our outstanding Ofsted judgements in every area were testament to the quality of work already being done with parents, carers and families, however, we know that parental engagement is a continuous journey and it is something we work tirelessly for as the years go by. We still want all of our staff to take responsibility for parental engagement and to recognise the importance of involving families in their child’s learning. We also want to continue to encourage our parents, carers and families to trust and use us a resource to develop their own learning. As a direct result of this vision, parental engagement remains one of the key strands of our School Improvement Plan and we are delighted to announce that in April 2016 we were reassessed and awarded the LPPA for a second time.

Aims and objectives of our LPPA work with parents:

  • To continue to evaluate our practice for engaging parents.
  • To further improve and develop the school’s practice in engaging parents in their children’s learning, progress and development.
  • To further improve and develop the school’s practice in engaging parents in developing their own learning.

The impact of the LPPA since its inception at the school:

  • The most significant change for us since achieved the Leading Parent Partnership Award is that we audit, consult and review much more strategically and frequently. Ideas for Parental Engagement are now either initiated or scrutinised by the wider Parental Engagement Team who report to the Leadership Team on a regular basis. As a result of the work of the wider Parental Engagement Team the number and variety of staff taking responsibility for Parental Engagement has increased dramatically and it is an expected inclusion on the improvement plans of all curriculum and support areas of the school. Our monitoring and evaluation programme across the year continues to have regular, calendared focus points on Parental Engagement. The responsibility for Parental Engagement is now an embedded whole-school one, and is a key part of our School Improvement Plan. It is an accepted and crucial part of the school’s drive for continued improvement to involve parents and carers as much as possible in their children’s learning.

What we achieved initially through the LPPA:

  • Complete re-vamp of our main reception area was completed prior to the 2012-13 academic year.
  • Parent specific information displayed in reception area (TV screen/flyers, etc.).
  • Development and re-structure of the ‘For Parents’ section of the school website.
  • New signage around school (reception, departmental, corridors).
  • Completed several parent surveys and parent voice activities (face to face).
  • Re-designed our parent questionnaires for parents’ evenings.
  • Parent planner produced for all parents of Y7 students from October 2012 (reviewed & updated annually since).
  • Re-wrote our Home-School agreement based on feedback from the Parents’ Forum.
  • LPPA articles in every school newsletter.
  • Parent food group established to look into school meal provision.
  • Several Family Learning courses/activities provided.
  • We began to evaluate all parent events/activities.
  • We now carry out regular parent ‘satisfaction surveys’.
  • We provided a new UCAS information evening to support parents of Y13 students (from October 2012).

How have we continued to approach LPPA since December 2012?

Our ‘PARENTAL ENGAGEMENT CHANGE TEAM’ of staff established in October 2011 evolved into a core group of two senior staff and our Achievement Support Leader (supported on a regular basis by a wider team of staff including our Achievement Support Coordinators for each year group, as well as the new Guidance Manager and Learning Mentor for 6th form and our two Family Liaison Workers). The two senior staff and Achievement Support Leader meet fortnightly and the Achievement Support Coordinators meet half-termly. Part of their overall remit is to work on a number of initiatives and approaches towards improving the school’s relationship and work with parents and ensure that there is a whole-school expectation of parental engagement. This is achieved via a regular focus on parental engagement within the CPD calendar, the fact that parental engagement is an agenda item on half-termly curriculum review meetings as well as ongoing development of parental engagement initiatives.

Communication

We have communicated regularly with students, staff, Parents’ Forum and governors on the progress of our work, and have written articles for the school newsletter, the North Star. We also have an LPPA section on the school website within the ‘For Parents’ section.

Some of our key areas of development are:

  • We now expect every curriculum and support area of the school to provide at least one new activity/event for parents across the year. These events/activities/resources have gone from strength to strength and now include opportunities for parents to come into school to experience modern foreign languages.
  • Our visitors’ reception area was fully developed to provide high quality information for parents/carers when they visit the school.
  • We further developed our Quality Assurance practice to regularly survey and act upon parents’ views on the service that the school provides. We adopt a consistent approach to evaluation of all parental engagement work which allows us to communicate our responses and actions back to parents via a “You said, we did” approach. When relevant these responses are feedback to parents via our website, the Parents’ Forum or the newsletter.
  • A new Guidance Manager (pastoral year leader) was appointed to the Guidance Team in 2013, an additional Family Liaison Worker (part-time) was appointed in 2014 and our Lead Learner Support left the school and was replaced by another member of staff in September 2015 (the role was also enhanced and developed to become ‘Achievement Support Leader’). All three of these roles involve significant engagement with parents & families with a focus on increasing engagement and improving achievement.
  • The non-teaching Guidance Manager model was extended into the 6th form for the start of 2015-16. The 6th form Guidance Manager is supported by a full time 6th form Learning Mentor and these two members of pastoral staff make regular contact with parents of 6th form students in a way that was never possible with the previous model of a teaching Head of 6th form. This has already led to significant improvements in students’ achievement and progress as well as parental engagement for 6th form parents.
  • Our Parents’ Forum has developed further and continued to operate as a strong and vocal group. This has included the development of smaller focus groups including one which looked at Home Learning, one looking at young peoples’ health issues & another looking at Parental Engagement per se. In this way the Parents’ Forum has been further empowered to review key school practice & procedure, e.g. assessment, reporting and parents’ evenings.
  • We provide opportunities for parents to enhance their own learning in maths & MFL.
  • We have introduced more intense information, advice and guidance for Y11 parents at post-16 options time (from January 2012).
  • We have further developed the information, advice and guidance provided for Y9 parents at KS4 options time.
  • We provide a UCAS information evening to support parents of Y13 students (from October 2012).
  • Provision of a named key worker for every SEND student on an EHCP.

The feedback from our LPPA assessor in April 2016 said:

  • The school’s vision for parental partnerships and how these continue to develop is very strong. “Parent Power” is valued at George Stephenson High School.
  • The School regularly seeks, values and acts on parents’ views on a wide range of topics, using a variety of ways to obtain feedback.
  • Opportunities for parents to support their children’s learning have developed since the initial LPPA award in 2012 and every curriculum area now holds a parental engagement event or activity each academic year.
  • Parents are very happy with the support they receive from staff both in relation to their children’s education but also with home to school support. Consultation with parents happens on a regular basis and the Parents’ Forum assists in providing a forum for discussion of issues. The school listens to parents.
  • Governors are provided with information on parental engagement and also outcomes of consultation activities on a regular basis. They believe that the school is good at providing a variety of opportunities to engage parents, some of which are formal or targeted and others more open. Parental support and engagement is viewed as fundamental and sits within School Improvement and Development Planning processes.
  • Staff recognise the need to support parents so that they in turn will be able to support their children’s learning and development. This has definitely developed throughout the time the School has held the LPPA and has further embedded enabling a whole school approach. All aspects of parental involvement are consistently evaluated.

Taking part in the LPPA process for a second time has enabled the school as a whole to recognise good practice and raised awareness of development areas.

As part of the work that follows LPPA, we aim to continue to improve communication with parents and the community, support parents and children to extend their learning and to encourage a greater input and more involvement of parents in school life.

The specific areas we will be continuing to work on are:

  • Continue to develop external agency links to provide needs led support to both parents and pupils in school and in the community.
  • Look to develop the technologies on offer to support parents unable to attend activities e.g. video recording of information sessions/workshops which could then be made available to parents.

We also have a Parents' Forum which meets every term who would welcome your views, ideas and opinions. If you have any ideas about how we can make improvements in parental involvement within school, please contact Tracey Anderson (Head of School and LPPA Coordinator) at the school.

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