Below are 11 practical recommendations based on research carried out by the Warwick Institute of Employment Research (2019), which explored how best to support parents to help young people make decisions. Use them to reflect on your current parental engagement activities and see how potentially small adjustments can maximise their impact.

1. Provide timely careers information

Evidence shows parents begin conversations on careers choices as early as Year 7. Start supporting them as soon their child joins your school or college and signpost the support available frequently during the transition process.

2. Build on current parental engagement

Existing communication channels, such as parents’ forums, can be effective in building parental engagement. Think how you can use them to generate interest and share careers guidance success stories.

3. Co-create with parents

Consulting with parents on how you engage can help you plan effective parental engagement strategies. Listen to their feedback and shape your careers activities around their needs and concerns.

4. Create a parent-friendly environment

Consider how you can make parents feel more welcome – for example, by organising smaller group activities at convenient times for parents, such as breakfast meetings, evening careers guidance sessions or coffee clubs.

5. Build trust with socially-disadvantaged families

The research found that hard-to-reach parents need support tailored to their needs and their children’s interests. Consider smaller workshops that allow a more personalised approach.

6. Refocus activities to involve parents

As well as Talking Futures activities, consider inviting parents to events such as careers fairs or open days. You could organise an event such as a ‘meet the employer’ day, or get parents to suggest an event.

7. Stimulate family conversations

Consider workshops that involve both parents and young people to support dialogue and prompt students to discuss their careers and options choices with their parents.

8. Combine home and school

Start activities in school or college that young people need to finish at home to encourage parents to get involved. Classroom teachers can help by designing homework activities around careers in their subject areas.

9. Offer a blended delivery

Offering online activities as well as face-to-face delivery can help engage parents because it’s more convenient for them. It can also help you monitor engagement and assess what support is needed.

10. Draw on parents as a resource

The research found that involving parents in delivering careers activities can be highly effective. Many will have good links to employers or run their own companies. Consider inviting them to give a presentation or lead a discussion.

11. Involve the senior leadership team

Involve senior leadership and management in the design and planning of your activities. A whole-school approach will help identify where other parental engagement work is happening and how you can dovetail with it.

Our Talking Futures activities will help you implement these recommendations and support parents at different stages of engagement.