Bett 2017: Talking parental engagement, not parental involvement


Co-founded by Sir Bob Geldof, Groupcall has become one of the education sector market leaders in communication and data extraction tools since launching in 2002. Our product portfolio comprises of Messenger, Emerge, Alert and Xporter. 

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Groupcall has been developing software to improve school-home communications for 15 years. Recently we published an e-book summarising the academic research relating to parental engagement, top tips for helping schools put together a parental engagement strategy and a glossary of the best EdTech tools available to support best practice in this area.

In advance of this year’s Bett Show (you can find us at stand B188), we asked Terry Freedman, an independent edtech consultant, to review the e-book. Here’s what he said:

“The title of this e-book is very important: parental engagement, not parental involvement. The key issue is how to ensure that parents are an integral part of the school, not merely recipients of letters about PE kit and visitors on parents' evenings.

As the book makes clear, this is an aim that should appeal to every school because research has shown that parental engagement can improve children's academic achievement. Indeed, ‘Parental Engagement’ draws abundantly on research findings which demonstrate the importance of working with parents as, in effect, partners in their child’s education.

These days much is made, rightly, of evidence-based practice in education, and this book epitomises that approach. It is very convincing, and should appeal to even the hardened staffroom cynic!

Had the book been concerned only with research, it would have little practical value. One of the problems faced in education generally is that teachers and headteachers simply don’t have the time to translate academic treatises into plans of action. However, as well as summarising the research and, crucially, providing references for follow-up if desired, the book sets out a parental engagement strategy.

This ten stage process is prefaced by sections on the academic research, a summary of the benefits of parental engagement and new technologies that can be brought into play. At the end of the e-book, as well as a summary and a bibliography, there is also a very useful chapter on tools that can help your school to get parents more engaged.

Now, you might think, as I did, that the tools section would feature only Groupcall products. If so, you are in for a pleasant surprise, because it features several non-Groupcall products too. In other words, the book is useful even if your school does not currently use Groupcall’s products.

On the whole, the book is laid out in a very readable way, with two columns to a page mostly. In addition, the highlighted examples of good practice from schools and the key points are very useful, and make it easy to pick out the most salient points.

There are a few aspects of the book that it would be good to change. First, some of the key summaries are formatted as white text on a red background, which I think makes it slightly hard to read. Secondly, parts of the text are all in uppercase, which makes it even harder to read.

Overall verdict: almost excellent.”

If you would like to download a copy of the e-book, please visit And if you’re visiting Bett this year, you’re invited to pop by the Groupcall stand to discuss these matters over a coffee – we’re on stand B188.

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