Is Texting The Key to Exam Success?

New research suggests that the secret to exam success may lie in your smartphone.

Recently debunked myths – such as the merits of listening to classical music, or joining an after school club to improve academic performance – have proven to be much less effective than texting students’ parents about homework.

Trials by the Educational Endowment Foundation found that paying parents to attend school meetings resulted in better attendance at homework support groups, compared to other parents who did not see the benefits of a ‘parent academy’ to support their children with homework.

However, paying each parent £30 to attend parent academies is not necessarily a sustainable approach to improving pupil performance.

The study showed that texting parents with homework reminders, or with alerts about upcoming tests, was the most cost-effective method for teachers to engage parents with their child’s school work.

The trial programme was run by academics at Bristol and Harvard universities and involved a weekly text to parents with a round-up of the week’s important school news and activities.

Kevin Collins, chief executive of the Education Endowment Foundation, told The Guardian:

“We know that it can be very difficult to get parents more involved, particularly when their children get older. It would seem that the simple and cheap approach of regular texts could be a better bet for schools than expecting parents to turn up at school for classes of their own.”

Researchers noted that parental involvement in school work reduced absenteeism throughout the school year. The texts caused an improvement to English results, but no improvement on attainment in science.

The foundation also looked at the effects of children participating in uniformed youth groups such as Scouts and Guides, noting only a small improvement in self-confidence and teamwork but no improvement on school work.