Texting parents about tests and homework can improve maths results and reduce absenteeism

Helping parents to engage in their child’s learning by texting them about upcoming tests or homework deadlines can boost secondary school pupils’ maths results by the equivalent of an extra month in the classroom, according to the results of a new trial published by the Education Endowment Foundation (EEF) today.

Almost 16,000 students in 36 English secondary schools took part in the randomised controlled trial of the Parent Engagement Project, delivered by researchers from the University of Bristol and Harvard University. Parents were sent an average of 30 texts over one school year (roughly one per week) with content ranging from dates of upcoming tests and warnings about missed homework, to conversation prompts on what their child had learnt that day.

The independent evaluators from Queen’s University Belfast found that pupils receiving the intervention made an additional month’s progress in maths compared with a similar group whose parents didn’t get the texts. Absenteeism was reduced too. They reported that schools embraced the programme and a vast majority of parents were supportive of the programme including the content, frequency and timing of texts.