Parental Invovement Is Not Considered Important
a. Some parents and teachers feel that parental involvement is not seen as a priority. Some schools don't have a parental involvement scheme and teachers feel that they have too many other issues to deal with.
The head teacher sees parental involvement as a threat and does not accept that equality for all produces quality. A centralised focus on initiatives that parents do not understand have isolated them. Teacher, Leeds
I tried to set up parents' groups and had stiff opposition from colleagues. Teacher, London
If parental engagement is not given the same status as other programmes, or it is not monitored as rigorously as, say, ‘Teaching and Learning' or ‘Attainment' strands, then it will continue to be a low priority for schools. Furthermore, schools sometimes have difficulty appreciating the potential impact that parents can make in raising achievement. Teacher
Far too many forms to fill out for OFSTED, SEF (PANDA), SEN to leave time for what we really want to do, i.e. build an inclusive school community. Teacher
The school routines don't have community/parent involvement in a meaningful and productive sense. In many ways schools seem to be social agents where people learn to find and cement their rung in society. Parent
Many schools don't spend enough time thinking about how to involve parents in the education of their children and assume parents have little to offer, or assume that they know what parents have to offer, which is not the case. Parent
Portsmouth Ethnic Minority Achievement Service (EMAS) has worked with local schools and minority ethnic community groups to develop a ‘How Schools Work' course for parents, meeting the needs of both newly arrived groups, for example, those from refugee or European Union backgrounds, and those from more established communities. Over five weeks the course covers a wide range of topics with parents reflecting on their own educational experiences, learning about the National Curriculum (especially Literacy and Numeracy), having the opportunity to observe lessons and exploring how they can be more involved with their child's school and give more effective support at home. The course is delivered jointly by EMAS' Community Learning Co-ordinators and school staff and is interpreted by bilingual Assistants but has also been delivered directly in Cantonese.
Parents have found the ‘How Schools Work' course extremely useful and schools have reported increased parental involvement through parents' evenings, other family learning events and offers of dual language storytelling. As one mother wrote: ‘I now feel so much happier about speaking to the school. This course has really made me believe that I can help my child.'
To develop links with parents to promote better parental attendance, Bolton Ethnic Minority Achievement Service, Castle Hill Centre, Bolton Gaskell Community School makes home visits to parents. There are initial visits to welcome the child and family and to collect relevant information. There are visits prior to and following extended visits. There are also visits to invite parents to school events and follow-up visits if parents have not attended parents' evenings.
b. Parents say that schools and teachers don't recognise the role that parents play in their children's education and development.
Head teachers think they know it all. They resist external input - always defensive. Teacher
Schools don't respect the fact that a parent might actually know about their child's ability and, unfortunately, they still have embedded within their consciousness what/how your child will achieve and, sadly, this is not in the higher bracket. A long way to go, I'm afraid, considering this is not a new issue/problem. Parent
Often, teachers and head teachers dismiss parental opinions and it is even worse for BME parents and those who have poor literacy skills in English. Parent
Chelsea Open Air Nursery in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, working with the Language Development Service, developed a guide for bilingual families. The publication promoted first language within the nursery, reinforced the value of parental support at home and provided strategies on how best parents/carers could help their child's language development.
In Hounslow the Language Service offers a multilingual ‘starting school' video, multilingual advice for parents on the ‘Advantages of Being Bilingual' and guidance for parents on the importance of reading stories with young children in their mother tongue.
c. Parents say that they don't have time to get involved with their children's education because of other commitments such as work and childcare.
In a recent letter sent to parents in a year group of 270 we had 3 responses. Parents do not care what goes on in school, they seem to see it as our job and nothing to do with them. Teacher
There is sometimes an assumption by schools that parents from BME communities are not interested in the education of their children. This often leads to stereotyping of children and as a result, it is the children who suffer the negative consequences. Parent
You need to show parents how they can become involved and facilitate the involvement. Some Black Mums who are single parents work long hours and find it difficult to find the time to liaise with the school even though they are very interested in their child's progress. Teacher, Berkshire
Wensley Fold Church of England Primary School in Blackburn allows parents to participate at whatever level they can, even if they are only able to come in for one event each term. They create materials and course guides that will allow families to continue to learn at home.
At Argyle Primary School in Camden, drop-in sessions are available for parents with pre-school children and there are pre-nursery home visits for all.
Schools could consider whether they make assumptions that parents' daily lives are run according to white, middle-class norms. The Leys Primary School, Barking & Dagenham provides crèche facilities and times meetings to meet the needs of parents.
What parents can do:
a. Involvement doesn't have to take a great deal of time. You could, for instance try to spend just a few minutes a day with your child talking about his education, perhaps over a meal or reading together before bed.
b. If you can't attend meetings at given times, see if you can arrange to talk to teachers at another time.
c. Remember that there is a great deal of information showing that your involvement can make a great deal of difference to how well your child does at school. Your support at home could be one of the most important factors. Find out more about how you can support your child at home by talking to teachers or finding out about courses in your area.
Be as visible in the school as possible. Attend as many school activities as possible as it might be the only black face any other black child sees. Parent, Wellingborough
Make time for your kids, even if it's 20 minutes per day. Find that time. It is so important. Parent
Try to find that bit of time - it may just be 20 minutes in your day, to catch up with the teenager who says they've done their homework or the little one who needs to practise some spellings. Parent
Don't depend on the school to educate your child entirely. You have to take some responsibility for yourself. Parent, Sheffield
Join support groups and seek help at the first sign of trouble in the school. Do not at any cost assume that the teacher is right when they are making accusations. Remember that a negative report on your child will remain with them for their entire academic career, and possibly beyond. Parent, Bristol
I've joined the PTFA and arranged my working life so that I can collect my children from school one day each week and take them to school one day each week. Without a physical presence at the school I would feel that I was missing too much. This is only possible because my employer has been so flexible. I still have to miss many activities at school because parents are given too little notice of them and so cannot make alternative arrangements. Parent, Manchester
I was able to get flexi time with my job to enable me to spend more time with my kid. She reads to me while I drive her to school. We talk about her school day when I get home and she tells me something new she has learned from school daily, and challenges she faces at school. Parent, London
Parental involvement is a continuum... spending time with your children every evening talking about school, reading, writing, singing etc. is a clear demonstration to your children that you are interested and that education is important. Parent
Be in school yourself. Attend all school meetings and take an interest in everything your child is doing. Return all letters and sign all journals and return slips. You will be surprised how schools use this information to judge the quality of parenting. Parent
Try to volunteer for at least one event in the school year. Parent
Find a way to break down barriers and create a relationship with the teaching staff. Don't assume that teaching staff know what is best for your child. Challenge their expectations about your child's potential. Parent, Middlesex
There are lots of educational books in the shops and access to information via the internet. Read with your children - if this means turning the TV off early so be it! Parent
Identify yourself to your child's teacher. Regularly ask for updates on your child's progress/problems. Don't wait until parents' evenings. Parent
If parents are involved, then they are informed. If they are informed, then they work with you and not against you. If they work with you, then you have a climate for change. Teacher