Parental involvement plays a crucial role in a child’s education – in fact, numerous studies have shown that schools with high rates of engagement from students’ parents tend to be more successful than their peers. When parents are actively participating in their children’s educational journey, it leads to improved student engagement, behaviour, academic success, and confidence. Despite this, however, and despite the desire of many parents to be more involved, many schools struggle to engage them effectively.
The power of parent engagement
To boost engagement with parents, schools need to prioritise effective communication. By establishing regular and meaningful communication channels – and including everyone from parents and teachers to administrators, specialists, after school club leaders and coaches – schools can bridge the gap between home and school, and foster strong partnerships. One approach is to personalise messages that cater to individual parents’ needs and concerns. Tailoring communication this way allows parents to feel acknowledged and understood, and strengthens their connection with the school.
Increasing the frequency of communication is another valuable strategy. While traditional methods such as newsletters, emails, and parent-teacher conferences are important, schools can explore additional avenues to engage parents. Utilising social media platforms can give parents and families real-time updates on school activities, students’ achievements, and any important announcements. While a tweet or an Instagram might not take as long to write as a newsletter, they can reach a far larger audience in a fraction of the time, and offer a chance for parents, students, and teachers to connect. This approach ensures parents stay connected and informed about their child’s school life without being bombarded by messages.
Aldenham schools - an exemplary model
At Aldenham Education Group (AEG), our network of international schools understand the significance of parent engagement. At Aldenham schools, parents and grandparents alike are considered an integral part of the school community. They actively participate in events such as parents’ evenings, concerts, and drama productions. AEG recognises that good communication with parents is vital to any school’s success, and all of our schools – from Aldenham in the UK to Aldenham Prep Riyadh in Saudi Arabia – employ various means to achieve this goal.
Our schools’ commitment to communication is demonstrated through weekly newsletters, informative blogs, social media updates, and regular open evenings. Through these channels, we’re able to provide students’ parents and families with regular updates, give them insights into their child’s progress, and even offer opportunities to connect with the school staff. By working to create an inclusive environment in this way, Aldenham schools have fostered a sense of partnership and collaboration between staff, students, parents, and the wider community.
The power of community
Beyond communication, schools should also strive to recognise the importance of building a strong sense of community. Part of AEG’s core mission – and one of our key aims – is to foster good relationships and partnerships among staff, pupils, parents, and the wider community. This reflects our commitment to inclusivity and collaboration, and helps our students’ parents to feel more included. After all, when parents feel connected to the school and the broader community, they are more likely to actively engage in their child’s education.
By involving parents in school activities, such as volunteering opportunities, parent-led workshops, or collaborative initiatives, schools can create a supportive community where parents feel valued and respected. Even former pupils – Old Aldenhamians such as Baroness Karren Brady and the golfer Matt Wallace – donate their time, expertise and money to help current pupils and give them the best education possible. This sense of belonging encourages parents to play an active role in their child’s education, ultimately benefiting the overall educational experience. This community feeling can instil positive memories in our pupils and shape them for their lives after Aldenham.
Parent engagement is a vital component of a child’s educational journey, and schools must prioritise strategies that can boost involvement. By fostering effective communication channels, personalising messages, and actively involving parents in school life, schools can enhance the engagement and success of their students. Aldenham Education Group’s schools value parent engagement and appreciate the importance of communication, community and collaboration – head to the Aldenham UK website to learn more.
In the realm of education, sports play an invaluable role in fostering development among students. Beyond the realm of physical fitness and competitive spirit, sports have a multitude of benefits that extend to academic performance, mental well-being and character building, and social skills. At Aldenham education group, we understand how crucial school sports are, and how they contribute to shaping well-rounded individuals.
Why sports are so important
A recent study carried out by the Youth Sport Trust revealed that fewer than half of all children in England (47.2%) were active for the Chief Medical Officer’s (CMO) recommended 60 minutes per day. Around the world, meanwhile, more than a third of students (37%) don’t exercise at school, according to Cambridge International – their recent Global Education Census found that 28% of male students and 41% of female students said that they didn’t take part in school sports. It’s vital that these figures improve, though, because it’s important children are active – and that sports are a vital part of the curriculum.
By encouraging students to engage in school sports from an early age, schools can promote a healthier lifestyle. Regular participation in sports helps children to develop strong bones, muscles and cardiovascular systems. Moreover, it decreases the likelihood of health-related issues like obesity and diabetes. Schools that foster an active lifestyle can instil healthy habits in their students – habits that they can carry with them throughout their lives. Students who engage in sports are more likely to continue leading an active lifestyle as adults, reducing the risk of chronic diseases and improving their overall well-being. Not only do they ensure children stay fit and healthy, but they have a range of benefits that aren’t so obvious at first glance.
Sports’ impact on academics
Contrary to the popular notion that school sports detract from academic pursuits, studies have shown that students who participate in sports often excel academically. While some students can struggle in the classroom, they can often excel at certain sports – and regular physical activity could give them the help they need in the classroom. A study by the universities of Strathclyde and Dundee, for example, found that intensive exercise boosted students’ performance in subjects like English, maths and science. Engaging in physical activities improves blood circulation, leading to increased oxygen flow to the brain, which in turn can enhance cognitive function. Sports and physical exercise have been linked to improved focus, concentration, and mental clarity, which can lead to enhanced academic performance. Additionally, taking part in team sports can also teach students essential skills such as discipline, time management, and goal-setting that can positively influence students’ academic performance.
How sports can teach life skills
Engaging in sports can teach students valuable life skills, and prepare them for life after school. School sports can teach students the values of perseverance, resilience, determination, and discipline, all of which are fertile ground for character development. Students who regularly play sports will learn how to set goals, work towards them, and overcome obstacles along the way. Sports also foster leadership qualities – as well as learning how to be a part of a team and foster relationships, team captains learn how to work as part of a team, make important decisions, and lead by example. The benefits of school sports also extend far beyond their school years. Character-building experiences – on the field or on the pitch – translate into skills that are essential for success in further education and after graduation. Essential skills like discipline, time management, and goal-setting are all sought after by employers.
The effect of sports on mental health
Over the years, studies have shown that school sports can have a significant positive impact on mental health. Playing sports – and engaging in other physical activities – can trigger the release of endorphins, otherwise known as ‘feel-good’ hormones. These endorphins can reduce negative emotions like stress, anxiety, and depression, all while boosting students’ mood and their overall wellbeing. In a survey in 2021, even children agreed about the beneficial effects that sports can have on their physical and mental health – around two-thirds of young children aged 6-8 recognised that being active was important for their future lives. School sports also give students an outlet to relieve any academic-related stress, and teach them how to channel their emotions in a more constructive manner. Playing sports can teach students about the highs and lows of life – sometimes they’ll win games, and other times they’ll lose. By losing games, students can learn how to overcome disappointment, as well as how to channel any negative feelings in a more healthy way.
Sports at Aldenham
School sports have been a part of life at Aldenham for centuries – AEG’s schools have a long and prestigious sporting history. Aldenham School in the UK, for example, was founded in 1597, and is home to one of the world’s earliest football clubs. The students at all of our schools – from Aldenham in the UK to Aldenham Prep Riyadh in Saudi Arabia – are all encouraged to take part in sports, whether that’s in PE lessons, sports days, or extracurricular activities. As well as representing their school in team sports like cricket, netball and football, our students also often perform at a high level in golf and tennis tournaments. Earlier this year, Aldenham’s U14s football team won the Herts County Cup, beating every other team in the county, and Aldenham also offers Sports Scholarships to students who’ve performed particularly well. A number of our alumni have also gone on to excel in sports, including the golfer Matt Wallace and the football Charlie Patino – after graduating a few years ago, he’s already played for both Arsenal and Blackpool FC.
Sports serve as a platform for students to interact and build meaningful relationships with their peers. Whether it’s playing on the same team, competing against each other, or supporting one another, school sports foster camaraderie and team spirit. Sports events and competitions bring together the entire school community, strengthening the bond between students, teachers, and parents – which is what we do at AEG, at all of our schools. Not only do we encourage our students to play sports and represent their school, but we encourage the students who aren’t playing to show up and support their peers whenever they play.
The incorporation of sports in schools is crucial for students’ holistic development. School sports do more than improve physical fitness, after all – there are plenty of long-term benefits, from mental wellbeing to improving social skills. By fostering a culture of sports in all of our schools, we’ve provided our students with a more positive environment and given them the support they need to unlock their talents and hone their sporting skills. To find out more about sports at Aldenham schools, visit the Aldenham School or the Aldenham Prep Riyadh websites.
Building a positive school culture is important, and should be right at the top of your to-do list. A school’s culture can affect everyone, from students and teachers to other staff members – and even the wider community. Not only does it improve students’ learning, but it improves morale throughout the school. If you want to create a positive school culture, it starts in the classroom.
Why school culture matters
School culture is essential for any place of learning looking to create an environment in which students feel safe, respected and valued. This way, students develop a sense of belonging, and form better relationships with their peers as well as their teachers. If everyone works together to support each other’s growth and well-being, then this fosters a sense of community. Students who are valued are more likely to be engaged in their learning, and more motivated to succeed, which in turn leads to better academic outcomes, and improves students’ chances of success after graduating. Thanks to a positive school culture, students are often high-achievers, and have a much lower chance of dropping out of education.
This can also benefit teachers and staff – if they feel appreciated and supported, they’re more likely to be motivated and passionate about their work, which will lead to higher job satisfaction for staff and lower rates of burnout. Ultimately, it helps to create a more productive and fulfilling environment for everyone involved in the education process. However, you can’t just instantly create a positive school culture – it takes time and hard work, and the best place to start is in the classroom. By making it as safe and welcoming as possible for students in their classroom, teachers can lay the foundations for a positive culture elsewhere. If done right, a feeling of belonging will soon permeate the entire school.
How can teachers encourage this?
There are many ways in which teachers can establish a positive culture in their classroom, and these don’t just revolve around making students feel welcome. Teachers should also strive to promote learning, collaboration, and mutual respect among all of their students. A positive culture helps students to connect not just with their teacher and each other, but with their education, too.
By encouraging collaboration and teamwork among their students, either through projects or other group activities, teachers foster a sense of community. If teachers celebrate their students’ successes, no matter if they’re big or small – this builds up confidence among their students. At the same time, though, they should promote a growth mindset, encouraging their students to see mistakes as opportunities for learning – this encourages students to be more resilient and willing to take risks. Simple techniques like asking students more questions enable teachers to build positive relationships with students, or having a weekly check-in with them creates a sense of structure. All of these techniques – and others implemented in every classroom help improve the experience for both students and teachers.
Our school culture
At all of the Aldenham Education Group’s schools, we aspire to create a safe and welcome atmosphere for every one of our students. As well as supporting our students in every way, we encourage a sense of community. It’s not just our students’ educational achievements that are important to us, but their sense of wellbeing, and the positive culture in our classrooms is how we achieve that. At Aldenham UK, an Independent Schools Inspectorate report stated that, ‘A very strong sense of community exists and pupils show kindness to each other.’
Outside of the classroom, we host concerts and drama performances – these, along with sports clubs and teams to create a sense of community at our schools. We even continued to foster this community spirit over the course of the pandemic. As well as ensuring our students kept on learning with online teaching, we ensured that tutor groups still had regular video conference meetings to catch up with their teachers and classmates. We also hosted online extracurricular activities for the students, including virtual trips and competitions.
A positive school culture helps in all kinds of ways, from motivating children to improving their mental wellbeing, and giving them a strong sense of community. It allows schools to create a safe, supportive environment, and in the classroom, teachers are able to establish expectations for their students, build relationships, and encourage collaboration. At Aldenham, this culture exists both in and out of the classroom, and by doing this, we’ve worked to create a more productive and inclusive learning environment for all. Find out more about how we’ve expanded our culture to the wider community on our website – and don’t hesitate to get in touch.
We often think of learning as a process that takes place entirely in our own heads. However, research has shown that a child’s learning can be significantly impacted by their physical surroundings – this includes both their home environment and the classroom. Learning is a continuous process, after all, and a healthy learning environment can make education more effortless and more accessible.
The environment’s impact
A child’s learning can be affected by a variety of factors. For example, a noisy or chaotic learning environment can make it difficult for them to concentrate on their studies. At home, for example, if they don’t have a designated space in which to study or do their homework, then they’ll find themselves struggling to focus. On the other hand, a well-lit, quiet and organised area can make it easier for them to concentrate, learn, and retain information. This is just as true in the classroom as it is at home. Students need to be able to focus on their work during lessons, and a well-designed and well-maintained classroom can help to promote a more positive learning environment, and leave students feeling more engaged and more focused.
It’s also worth noting that a student’s learning environment isn’t just the physical space around them. It can also include their cultural and social environment – if a child is from a background that’s different to the school’s dominant culture, then they may end up feeling excluded or marginalised. This can, in turn, impact their ability to learn. At Aldenham Education Group, we have schools in the UK and around the world – we opened our latest school, Aldenham Prep Riyadh, in Saudi Arabia in 2022. Our international network of schools are integrated closely, to promote links and cooperation across cultures and countries. At the same time, the Aldenham Prep Riyadh curriculum has been carefully tailored to fit with the local culture and traditions – subjects such as Arabic and Islamic Studies ensure that we’re offering our students the best all-round education.
What schools can do
Over the years, many studies have shown the importance of surroundings when it comes to learning, and shown a strong correlation between classroom environmental changes and academic success. In 2015, the University of Salford published a study looking at the impact of different classroom designs. The researchers studied 153 different classrooms in 27 diverse primary schools, looking at everything from air quality to the colours of rooms. They found that a ‘well-designed’ classroom could boost learning significantly – differences in classroom surroundings were responsible for 16% of the variation in students’ learning progress. Even lighting can affect how well students are learning – a study published earlier this year showed that low levels of lighting could improve students’ neurophysiological activity, as well as their memory skills.
One way in which schools can offer their students the support they need is by providing them with adaptive learning spaces. These spaces – which can be found throughout schools – are more flexible than the more rigid learning environment in traditional classrooms – allow students to be more comfortable and engage more with their learning. From comfortable chairs and beanbags for them to read, or desks and nooks where they can be more creative and hands-on, these spaces can give students more freedom to choose how they learn. After all, every student learns differently, and they need different surroundings in which to do so. While some are visual learners who can benefit from seeing their teacher in front of the whiteboard, others benefit more from hands-on learning, or others may learn better from sitting with a book in a quiet reading space.
Aldenham’s learning spaces
At all of our schools, we’ve worked to ensure that our students have the surroundings they need to get the most out of their time with us. For example, we’ve worked closely with the team of educational specialists at KidzInk Design. They’ve created educational spaces for schools around the world, and we partnered with them when designing Aldenham Prep Riyadh. As well as creating classrooms that can accommodate every student’s unique pace and style, they designed other facilities – including our canteen, a Wellbeing Room, and a Learning Resource Centre – that all support our students’ learning needs. The central atrium of the school, for example, offers a range of learning environments and spaces for students to play and learn, including bookshelves and a play area.
While Aldenham in the UK has existed on the same site since it was founded in 1597, delivering 425 years of academic excellence, we’re always looking to the future. We’re constantly updating our facilities in order to engage our students and improve their performance. Our sports facilities, for example, include a full-size sports hall and a dance studio, while the purpose-built theatre is well-equipped with state-of-the-art lighting and sound technology. It’s not just the school buildings that can stimulate and engage our students, though. Engaging and connecting with nature can make children more motivated to learn, and our UK schools are surrounded by acres of countryside. Although just 13 miles away from London, it’s set in over 110 acres of Hertfordshire countryside, giving our students the space to play, take part in sports, or just relax.
A child’s surroundings can have a significant impact on their learning. While a supportive, well-designed and positive environment can promote better mental health and increase a child’s ability to learn, a more chaotic learning environment can be a major barrier to their success. As educators, it is important to consider the space in which a child is learning and take steps to ensure it’s conducive to their success, which is what we aim to do at every one of our Aldenham schools. From flexible classrooms to comfortable spaces, we ensure they have everything they need – find out more about Aldenham’s facilities here.
These days, it’s important for schools to make sure that they have a good relationship with their local communities. Not only is it good for students, but there are also benefits for teachers, and the wider school as a whole – both in and out of the classroom.
Increased student attendance
Research has shown that schools with high levels of community support will also have high levels of student attendance. A report by the National Education Association, in the US, stated that “when schools, parents, families, and communities work together to support learning, students tend to earn higher grades, attend school more regularly, stay in school longer, and enrol in higher level programs” – and that’s just as true then as it is today. By inviting parents and family members to be more involved with the school community, students and their families can begin to feel more involved in their education, and therefore more likely to attend classes and be more engaged with their day-to-day learning.
Teaching students new skills
Increased community support, and connections with the wider community, can also help schools offer students more extracurricular support. This can give students a chance to learn new skills that otherwise they might have never encountered, and help us to offer them an all-round education. There are many ways that schools can engage with the community, from welcoming local professionals to the school for talks and workshops, to encouraging students to volunteer their time at nearby charities or organisations. This way, students have a chance to encounter people or experiences that would have typically been outside the curriculum, and it can help to prepare them for life after education – something integral to the way Aldenham Education Group operates. At AEG, we have more than four centuries of academic experience, and are always looking to the future. We’ve committed ourselves not only to helping our pupils become the best versions of themselves, but also to finding their individual purpose and unique talents, whatever they might be.
Better mental health
A more connected school community can give students and their families a chance to be a part of the school, and give students a sense of belonging. Having that will make them feel more welcome, and more accepted by their teachers and their classmates, which can have a positive impact on their mental health. Mental health is just as important as physical health, especially for children who are still growing and developing. Our students are at the heart of everything we do, and we want to inspire a love of learning in all of them, all while ensuring they have the flexibility to develop their own abilities and talents – and they can only do that by focusing on their mental wellbeing. According to a report by The Children’s Society, 70% of young people who experience mental health problems don’t receive any help at a sufficiently early age.
A school that’s truly part of the community, like one of our Aldenham schools, can give students a wide support network. With more people looking out for the students, any mental health issues are more likely to be picked up earlier, and we can make sure that students are offered the help they need. At Aldenham, we aim to respond and be sympathetic to the mental health needs of all our pupils. Maintaining positive mental health is important, and we want our students to flourish – students with better mental health are also more likely to be engaged with their lessons, and continue with their education later in life.
The benefits for teachers
It’s not just students who can reap the benefits of giving back to the community – teachers can, as well. Getting families and others involved with students’ education can help to offer the students a more well-rounded education. After all, a student doesn’t stop learning when the school day ends. Children don’t live and learn in a vacuum – as the saying goes, it takes a village to raise a child. With others supporting them and helping out in many ways, teachers can focus more on delivering the best academic experience possible. It also gives teachers a chance to learn more about their students and their educational needs, so they can better understand where they need help with their learning. Here at AEG, one of our key aims has long been to foster good relationships and partnerships between staff, pupils, parents and the wider community. Schools that have clear links to their community are also more likely to see an improvement in their reputation. As people begin to feel more connected with the school, they’re likely to endorse it to others and spread the word, which will also reflect well on the teachers.
What schools can do
Only between 10 and 20% of a child’s waking hours are spent in a school – the rest of their time is spent either at home or in the wider community. Therefore, it’s important that schools stay connected. Schools should be asking themselves questions like, ‘What resources in the school community could we tap into?’ or ‘What new partnerships can we build?’ Schools can organise events with local businesses or organisations, or even invite people to run extra-curricular programs. By building bridges, schools can help themselves, the local community – and more importantly, the students.
By engaging more with families and the community, we believe schools can give their students rich and stimulating experiences, as well as create a culture based around the values of empathy and belonging. Schools don’t exist in isolation, so building bridges is important, and can help to foster a lifelong love of learning in students. Our newest school, Aldenham Prep Riyadh, opened its doors in September, and is already deeply embedded in the local community. The first Aldenham school in the region, it has integrated the timeless traditions of a British education with local values and principles, to offer students a complete all-round education.
We believe connecting children – and schools – to their local communities can open up a wealth of opportunities, and enrich a child’s educational experience. From motivating children to improving their mental wellbeing, a connected community can ensure a school offers an all-round education. Our Aldenham schools are an integral part of the community, and can count on the loyal support of everyone from students and their parents to staff and former students, who all contribute to make sure that we can offer an outstanding experience. Head to the Aldenham UK website to find out more about the Aldenham community and some of our charitable endeavours.