Summary of news on parents involvement in their childrens education

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May 2008

The Department for Children Schools and Families published research showing parents want more involvement in their children’s education and prefer informal chats with school staff instead of parents' evenings. The research showed half of all parents feel very involved their child's education - up from just 29% in 2001 - and the majority (65%) want to get even more involved. Parents now see informal discussions with school staff as the most useful way of finding out about a child's progress. Read the full article at http://www.dcsf.gov.uk/pns/DisplayPN.cgi?pn_id=2008_0083


December 2007

The TES reported on findings from the Primary Review, which include reports by Manchester and Leeds academics. They say that the drive to meet Government targets for tests and the Every Child Matters outcomes has altered the relationship between schools and families. Teachers are now being pushed into basing their judgements of pupils on race, class and gender rather than their individual abilities. The report said: "methods to tackle underachievement with broad solutions based on ethnicity, gender or learning styles, are too simple to work well, can reinforce prejudice and underestimate children’s abilities". The researchers went on to point out that schools tend to be less diverse than the national picture as variations are not evenly spread.

The full report, Children, identity, diversity and inclusion in primary education by Mel Ainscow, Alan Dyson and Jean Conteh, can be found at htpp://www.primaryreview.org.uk/Publications/Publicationshome.html

November 2007,

The TES reported on Bernard Levey, an educational psychologist from Hull, who observed a project in which support assistants helped parents of 143 primary school pupils (all with literacy difficulties) to work with their children. He found that children’s literacy levels improve significantly if teachers help parents to read with their children. Mr Levey also noticed that parents’ interest in literacy increased , and the schools involved recognised that parents can make a difference to children’s literacy. In the same month, as part of the Primary Review, Cambridge University released research which found that many children’s homes were becoming classrooms and others were being looked after in after-school centres while their parents worked long hours. They warned that drives to increase parent involvement in their child’s education – a focus of the 10-year children’s plan – could backfire.

The study says that parents feel intense pressure to read to their children and help with their homework but many are intimidated by academia, while others feel guilty for failing to meet their children’s expectations. It added that wraparound care was increasing pressures on children and schools find it ever more difficult to talk to parents as family structures shift. (Guardian/Daily Mail, 23 November 2007).

November 2007

Children and Young People Now reported that a pilot project to encourage parents to get involved with their children’s education to try and reduce levels of truancy and exclusions was showing success. 20 local authorities in England chose to pilot the Parent Support Advisers Project, which the Government launched in 2006. Barking and Dagenham, one of the volunteer LAs, commissioned charity School-Home Support Services to recruit, train and support 15 dedicated parent support advisers. The advisers are based in schools and encourage parents to get involved with their child’s education and also act as mediators between school and home. The DCSF pilot will run until July 2008.

October 2007

Ed Balls, children's secretary, stressed that ten minutes bedtime reading a night for every child is as important as a good diet and healthy lifestyle. Parents were reminded that reading bedtime stories should be as much a part of their routine as brushing teeth. For more information visit htpp://www.dfes.gov.uk/pns/DisplayPN.cgi?pn_id=2007_0197.

October 2007

The TES reported on a parental strategy group in the Scottish borders, which looked at how schools can engage with parents in a more meaningful way. To read the article in full visit http://www.tes.co.uk/search/story/?story_id=2444208.

September 2007

The Independent reported on research of 1,800 parents, commissioned by Booktime, which found that children of primary school age spend more time reading on their own than reading with their parents. It also found children spent more time playing on their own, with friends or in front of the television than they did with their parents. Children aged four to nine spend twice as long watching TV (7 hrs 46 mins a week) as they do spending time reading a book with an adult.

The survey also found that 69% of mothers who earn £30,000 to £50,000 a year read to their children, compared with 74% of those earning £10,000 to £20,000, and 84% of those making less than £10,000.

August 2007

The TES Scotland reported that the Scottish Executives 12-leaflet series on parental involvement, Making a difference, was rated more highly by schools and local authorities than by the parents they were meant to help. An independent two-year survey was carried out by the group George Street Research.

July 2007

LTS Scotland reported that research published by Warwick University highlighted the benefits of parental engagement in raising achievement. The research project, involving 30 secondary and comprehensive schools, explored the impact of different forms of parental engagement upon pupil achievement and behaviour. It found that where parents and teachers work together to improve learning, the gains in achievement are significant.

A report from the Joseph Rowntree Foundation in June 2007 found that white, working-class, British boys were persistently the worse performers over any other ethnic or gender group in schools. The study found that this group accounted for almost half of school-leavers with no or low qualifications. The report suggested that such low achievement was due to parents failing to talk to their children at home and a community culture of learning being 'uncool'. The report said: "A key factor is the home learning environment. The amount parents read to their children, the number of books in the home, the degree to which parents support their children in and out of school. Language development is a further factor." Tackling low educational achievement is available in electronic format from http://www.jrf.org.uk/publications/tackling-low-educational-achievement

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