Men’s Health Information and Resource Centre

DfES: Engaging Fathers Involving Parents, Raising Achievement

dfes This publication provides a summary of research and information available on engaging fathers in their children’s learning. Schools that include both mums and dads in the life of the school and in their children's learning, have seen significant positive differences to children's achievements, motivation and self-esteem. Involving fathers can also benefit the fathers themselves, as well as their families.

"Some people say like father like son. But I think they are wrong. Like father like daughter. I’m exactly like my Dad. Not in looks. In personality. We both like fishing and picnics.” Emma (Year 6)."
Although this resource is from the UK, it can apply to any school seeking to actively engage fathers in their children's school and learning. This resource outlines some of the benefits to children, fathers and families when schools have identified, recorded and implemented effective strategies reaching out to fathers.

Key Features of This Publication Include:

  • Key reasons for fathers to get involved in their children’s learning, and the school.
  • Informative case studies where schools have successfully engaged with fathers.
  • The development of an effective strategy for engaging fathers in their children's learning.
  • Practical ideas and opportunities for making father-school links stronger, building on what's already being done in the school.
  • Additional useful resources and guidelines on working with fathers.

Key Programs and Initiatives That Attract Fathers Are:

  • Programmes where school staff welcome fathers and feel comfortable about their inclusion.
  • Programmes where schools are persistent and creative in recruiting and involving fathers.
  • Programmes and activities where local fathers have been consulted on factors such as content, design, publicity, recruitment, timing and venue.
  • Well planned programmes and activities built around dynamic and active learning styles with not too much discussion.
  • Programmes and activities explicitly targeted at fathers – events labelled for ‘parents’ tend to attract predominantly mothers because ‘parent’ is often perceived as ‘mother’.
  • Programmes built around father-child activities (‘family learning’). These are not necessarily father-son activities although this may be particularly relevant for some children.
  • Fathers get more involved in wider family learning programmes than in Family Language, Literacy and Numeracy (FLLN) programmes – particularly when courses are shorter and run outside working hours. Successful programmes often focus on learning or experiences shared with children in areas as diverse as ICT, arts and crafts, music,drama, technology, sports and cookery. Literacy activities can be successful when focused on literature appealing to men, and perhaps also linking to internet technology and sport, for example.
  • Fathers often respond well to opportunities to share job-related expertise with children and other parents. Efforts are being made to develop more father-friendly programmes. There is also flexibility in course design and format and schools would be very welcome to experiment with new approaches to engage more fathers.

Some schools have developed successful programmes for involving fathers that are not based on the traditional models of activity based family learning. Examples include:

  • Engagement with individual fathers about a specific child’s learning and behaviour.
  • Open House events for fathers, Dads into School days, Dads Breakfasts, Dads Lunches and ‘celebrate Fathers Day’ evenings making use of fathers’ specific skills to support work in the classroom and also to support children in a mentoring capacity father-support networks and adult learning programmes for fathers as part of an extended school’ programme.


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