In order to help students achieve better results, schools should seek to engage with their parent community as well as the students themselves. For parents who have English as an additional language, this is often more challenging. 

According to, in 2021 EAL students accounted for 19.3% of the total school population in England, which accounts to well over 1.5 million children. If you neglect your EAL community, you could be neglecting around a fifth of the parents at your school.

Parents with English as an additional language (EAL) can sometimes feel isolated and disconnected from their child's life at school. This is mainly due to the language barrier and cultural differences between the school and the family.

There are, however, a number of ways in which schools can break down these barriers in order to improve relationships with EAL parents, which we explain in our article below.

Male teacher standing in front of a whiteboard teaching.

Provide more resources and information in the parent's native languages

One way schools can better engage with parents who have English as an additional language is by providing more resources and information in their native languages. This can include translated versions of school newsletters, websites and certain handouts from information evenings.

This creates a more welcoming environment for these families. By establishing better communication and working together, both the school and the parents will be able to better support their students.

Take the time to learn about their language and heritage

Another way to create a more welcoming environment for EAL parents is by taking the time to learn about their language and heritage. This includes learning about the customs and traditions of these families, as well as learning about their language and the different dialects that may be spoken. By taking the time to learn about these things, schools can create a more inclusive environment for all families.

This starts in the classroom, and with a little thought and effort, both primary and secondary school teachers could incorporate topics that include content from students’ native countries.

Use technology

Technology is a ‘language’ in itself, it crosses language barriers and is universally understood. It’s no secret that the world is turning increasingly digital, and its capabilities are being harnessed by children and parents alike. It makes sense then, to take advantage of technological ways to improve parent engagement.

Example of SZapp notification. Reads "School is closed - Snow Day"

One obvious tool is Google Translate, something EAL parents will almost certainly be familiar with. If you have a high EAL community in your school, it’s imperative to opt for a communications platform that incorporates a translation app such as this. Our parent engagement platform is a good example of how to incorporate Google Translate into communications. Not only do our websites offer this capability, so do our mobile responsive newsletters, and even our app notifications. Integrating a parents evening booking system within the same platform keeps everything under one roof, making it simpler for EAL parents to understand.

Share positive news and celebrate success

Example of a SZapp post with an image of children playing football.

Regardless of their mother tongue language, parents love receiving good news, it’s human nature. If you can focus on the positive by promoting the great things that are happening in the school, then parents will naturally want to go that extra mile to understand it (especially if the news includes their child).

When schools share good news, it makes the parents want to know even more, which is great news for schools as this means naturally enhanced parent engagement. What’s more, if more parents are reading your school newsletter for this news, it makes it easier to share the ‘important but not so exciting’ school information like school attendance, staff changes and significant calendar dates.

Use media rich content

Heaps of text in newsletters has always been daunting, and in today’s ever-increasing visual world, people are becoming less and less tolerant of it, whether English is their first language or not. If your school has a large EAL community as well, you risk them becoming even more disengaged with your communications.

In a social media sense, over the past ten years or so we’ve seen the world migrate from Facebook, to Instagram, and then more recently TikTok. Or to look at it another way, from text, to imagery, to videos & ‘reels’. 

Don’t get left behind! Ensure your school communications, particularly your website and newsletter, are fit for 2022 AND your diverse parent community.

By using multimedia content, schools can make sure that all parents feel welcome and included, and that they are able to easily understand what is happening at the school. 

In order to be able to impart ‘media rich’ news, you need a communication tool that will easily allow you to do so. Is your school newsletter tool fit for purpose? Because it’s all very well including lots of photos, but not if it’s going to take valuable time and resources to produce it. 

Schoolzine’s platform allows you to build media-rich newsletters or a live newstream quickly and easily. You’re able to add images and videos to your articles in seconds, add important calendar dates, link to social media pages plus a whole lot more. When you’re done, simply push these newsletters out via email or app notification and add it to your website.

Example of our websites, features content tiles and featured articles. All images include children in a school setting.


Communicate little and often, and don't rely on one channel

According to, the average person has 40 apps on their phone. So, whenever you send a communication to a parent, bear in mind you’re competing with a multitude of other media for their attention. And not only do you have to grab their attention, you need to hold it.

For EAL parents especially, long, text-based newsletters will inevitably end up in the ‘read later’ pile. And, you’ve guessed it, they never lay eyes on that ‘read later’ stuff again. What’s more, send too many of these style letters out, and they will soon stop opening them at all.

Instead, we suggest communicating little and often, using a variety of different communication channels to avoid monotony. For example, create shorter, regular, mobile responsive and media rich newsletters, and also quickfire app notifications when necessary. Ensure these app notifications can be translated. 

Also encourage two-way communication, so these parents feel like their voice is heard and their opinion matters. Schoolzine’s newsletter has many tools for this capability, for example creating spot polls and surveys. It also has a unique ‘submit content’ function, which allows parents to directly send content to your school, for inclusion in newsletters or the website. Teachers can use this too!

It is widely recognised that enhanced parent engagement at a school ultimately leads to a better educational outcome for students. By adopting some of these simple steps, schools can create a more inclusive environment for all parents, regardless of their language abilities.

And if you’d like a simple demo of any of our services, contact us to arrange a no pressure virtual appointment.

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