Every Parent Matters
Department for Education and Skills, March 2007 This document combines findings from research and practice about work with parents and the effects of this on children’s outcomes, with a summary of recent Government action and action to be taken in the near future. The main action points relating to literacy are listed below.
- Health-led parenting projects began in 10 areas across England in April 2007. These projects are run jointly by the Primary Care Trust (PCT) and local authority (LA), linking with Sure Start Children’s Centres. Health visitors or community midwives deliver one-to-one support designed to improve parents’ interaction with their baby, improve the mother’s and child’s health, and help parents develop in their own lives, eg participation in the workforce or re-engagement with education.
- The Government funds Bookstart, which provides packs of free books to all families in England with children at six to nine months, 18 months and three years. It has invested £27m in Bookstart for 2005-08 to issue 4.5 million packs of books.
- 2008 will see the National Year of Reading (NYR) – Ten Years On, following the first NYR, run by the National Literacy Trust in 1998-99.
- A new family learning course for parents and carers with literacy and numeracy needs will be piloted from autumn 2007.
- The evaluation findings from the Early Learning Partnership project, running from 2006-08, will be disseminated to all early years settings, and training from the Parents, Early Years and Learning (PEAL) project will be rolled out across the country.
- An additional £9m has been made available in 2007-08 to support LAs in the 30% most disadvantaged areas. The fund will support LAs in developing and disseminating innovative approaches to working effectively with hard-to-reach parents to support their children’s early learning and development. Lessons learned will be drawn into the Early Years Foundation Stage when it becomes statutory in September 2008.
- The Government will strengthen Home-School Agreements by making sure schools are using them effectively, and will be clearer about what good engagement can look like.
- The Specialist Schools and Academies Trust has run an 18-month campaign to encourage innovation and improve school practice in engaging parents, particularly those parents that have not been reached through existing means. The Government will ensure that more schools are aware of what is possible as the campaign reports back.
- Parental engagement is embedded within the primary social and emotional aspects of learning (SEAL) programme, which is designed to promote positive behaviour, attendance, learning and wellbeing. It is expected that two thirds of primary schools will be using SEAL by July 2007; the secondary programme will begin in September 2007.
- By 2010 all 23,000 schools will offer access to extended services.
- From January 2007 Parent Support Advisers are being piloted in 20 local authorities. Good practice from this pilot will be mainstreamed through extended schools.
- The Pre Budget Report 2006 included an announcement of a free book in 2007 for all children at the transition to primary and secondary school (ages five and 11).
- The Government will develop packs for parents and carers with literacy and numeracy needs, encouraging them to participate in activities with their children. These will be issued in Autumn 2007 when their children receive their free book.
The transition into adulthood
- By April 2008 vulnerable teenagers will have access to a package of Targeted Youth Support.
- Local parental support strategies should include support for parents of teenagers.
- Revised guidance to local authorities and PCTs will set out support for all young parents to help them build a secure future for them and their children. This support will include developing strong and confident parenting skills, and continuing or re-engaging with education and training.
- The 40 local authorities recognised as Respect Action Areas have been given the opportunity to bid for a share of £6m extra funding from March 2007 to improve parenting support services in their area.
- The Government is considering what response it should make to other issues, for example, the fact that parents of teenagers tend to lose the informal networks of support that can develop through primary schools; and how to make intensive support programmes more widely available at an earlier stage, without deterring parents because of the association of such programmes with anti-social behaviour.
Investment in strategic capacity
- The Supporting Parents guidance issued in October 2006 asks each local authority to develop a strategic approach to parenting support services, and asks authorities to appoint a single commissioner to champion services for parents. These strategies should be in place by March 2008.
- By April 2008 local authorities will be required to provide a full range of information about local and national services to parents of children and young people from birth to age 19.
- A universal Parent Know-How service will be piloted in 2008, integrating access to quality web materials with targeted information via helplines and printed material for parents at higher risk or unable to access other channels.
- The National Academy for Parenting Practitioners (www.everychildmatters.gov.uk/napp) will come into operation from Autumn 2007. It will have three main areas of work:
- Training and support for the parenting workforce
- Acting as a national centre and source of advice on research evidence on parenting and parenting support, combined with practical knowledge of what works in different situations
- Supporting the government’s parenting agenda as it develops
- Developing parental engagement
- The Government will develop a definition of the minimum package of information, advice and support that any parent should be able to access, both from national sources and locally through children’s centres and extended schools.
- The Government will work with IDeA (the Improvement and Development Agency), the Local Government Association and a group of front-running local authorities to develop and share best practice.
- The document recognises the importance of positive male role models for boys’ learning and reading.
- The paper recognises that the Government needs to consider how public services can effectively engage with all the significant adults in a child’s life, reaching out to:
- Fathers as well as mothers
- Parents from all backgrounds, in particular those whom services have traditionally found harder to reach
- Families with a disabled parent or child
- Other key adults in children’s lives including grandparents and step-parents
- Those parenting looked after children
- Parents in challenging circumstances eg prisoners’ families
- Engaging parents effectively means:
- Engaging both fathers and mothers
- Enabling parents to access information so that they can exercise effective choice
- Giving parents the means to influence services so that they meet their family’s needs
- Practitioners seeking to work in equal partnership with parents to maximise the benefits to the children
- Enabling parents to access additional information and help to deal with specific issues when they need it
- Ensuring opportunities for fathers and mothers to work in partnership with schools
- To download the full report visit www.teachernet.gov.uk/docbank/index.cfm?id=11184