Journalist and Writer
Hilary Wilce specialising in all aspects of education
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The Quandary - 12 Apr 2007

How can I get my pupilís parents more involved in their education? Nothing works at our primary school.

Hillary's Advice

How well children do at school directly reflects the love, support, discipline and encouragement they are given at home. The studies bear it out, and every teacher in the land knows it in their bones. Equally, our less-than-satisfactory national school results directly reflects a culture where parents are not doing what they could for their children.

Schools must get parents on board if they are to help their pupils do their best, but parents can remain stubbornly resistant. They are busy, tired, stressed, lazy, intimidated by school, not properly grown up themselves, or simply donít know how much their influence matters.

One way might be to introduce a session or two helping parents to learn about the many practical ways in which they motivate their children. Dig into your school budget and get a parenting expert along if no-one at school feels able to do this. Even if parents donít understand, say, the maths their children are doing, or donít speak English very well, they can learn how to be good coaches by offering encouragement and asking the right questions, and many schools have discovered that when parents are given practical skills with which they can help their children, they are much more willing to get involved.

Traditional parentsí evenings, in contrast, tend to make parents feel like dumb recipients of Ė often bad Ė news about their children. They can feel guilty and resentful about what they are hearing, and not want to have anything more than minimum contact with school as a result.