Over the past few months, I have been working with a school to explore and enhance their links with parents. This is through the Leading Parent Partnership Award scheme, for which I have been an adviser and assessor for over ten years.
The initial discussion demonstrated a great willingness to embrace the philosophy that engaging with parents has a significant impact across many areas of child, class and school performance. This has been explored over the past fifteen years, with notable reports by Charles Desforges (2003) and the Department for Education and Skills (2007). Links to both reports are at the foot of this blog.
The LPPA has a long track record of working closely with schools, to enhance interaction, tailored to the contextual needs of the school. This must be the reality, as every context has nuanced differences, which need to be accommodated, if the project is to be successful. Some schools already do a great deal and want to have validation of their practice, while others see a need to improve or change the ways in which they interact with parents.
In the summer of 2015, I visited several schools and wrote a blog to capture some of the benefits derived from a close look at parent-school interactions and the impact on the school of relatively simple tweaks to practice.
Three months ago, the visit was a general discussion, based on the school’s initial auditing of the current situation. During the discussion, I offered a couple of relatively simple tweaks; the first was the idea of a “stay on and …” sharing activity, for 15-25 minutes at the beginning or end of the school day, where parents and children actively engage with a joint task, many of them leading into the first lesson of the day. The second was based on an exploration of parent involvement in assemblies. At that point they did not participate.
Arriving at the school for a 9am start, I was whisked around the school to see 1) an assembly that involved a parent audience and 2) several classes, across both infants and juniors, where a large number of parents were involved in active learning with their child. The school had investigated how the parents, staff and children felt about the changes and everyone expressed delight at the impact.
Parents were getting to understand more about how their child’s class was running, staff were able to interact informally with parents, even with some who previously had been seen as “hard to reach”, who had been “encouraged” into school by their children’s invitation. Children’s attendance had improved over that period.
The school is reflecting on the project to date, is looking to distil the essential elements for the autumn term and will be actively pursuing these elements, over a longer timescale, to more fully understand the benefits.
Stay on and… activities
An image that links with a piece of writing; write a set of adjectives to describe elements in the image.
An image that links with the class topic theme. Describe what you can see; what do you know about the image?
Read together, from the current reader.
P4C question; Thunks; General topic question; Moral dilemma; School/class rules…
Play a game; generic; mathematical…
Draw; still life; plants; use pencil, ink, crayon, pastel, charcoal.
Write a short description of a character.
Solve some maths problems.
Please add any thoughts through the comment thread.
Charles Desforges http://www.bgfl.org/bgfl/custom/files_uploaded/uploaded_resources/18617/Desforges.pdf