After COVID-19 forced schools around the world to pivot and devise new outreach mechanisms, many school leaders had an “aha” moment when they saw family engagement in education rise. From Argentina to India to the United States, leaders realized that what they thought were “hard-to-reach” families turned out to be “hard-to-reach” schools; it was schools’ own approaches to engagement that had been getting in the way.
This new focus on ways to connect families with schools presents an opportunity to markedly shift broader approaches—and the overall vision—for long-term collaboration. With the ongoing support of 50 government, civil society, and private sector organizations in the Family Engagement in Education Network (FEEN), the Center for Universal Education (CUE) at Brookings has been researching how families and schools can work better together to improve and transform how education is delivered and what it can achieve. Successful engagement has far-reaching implications for everything from improving student learning outcomes to creating a shared vision between educators and families on the purpose of education.
On September 30, CUE hosted a virtual event to launch its new playbook “Collaborating to transform and improve education systems: A playbook for family-school engagement.” After a short presentation on the playbook’s key findings, lead author and CUE Co-Director Rebecca Winthrop moderated intimate chats with members of FEEN and other education decisionmakers about the role of family-school engagement and why it is so urgently needed—showcasing both speakers’ on-the-ground experiences and other findings from the playbook. The discussions focused on how effective family engagement approaches can transform education systems to address growing inequality and give all children the breadth of skills needed to thrive in the 21st century—and the practical strategies for doing so.
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