14 SES 07 A, Migrating/International/Minority Families, Community and Schooling
The importance of a parent or carer to the education of a young person is well recognised within current international educational research. Either the presence or absence of the adult in the home and their subsequent partnership with the school can greatly influence the outcomes for the young person and alter their success in education (Sheldon, 2003, Beveridge, 2005, DfES, 2007, OfSTED, 2007).
The development and formation of partnerships between schools and parents has been a key element of inclusive education within Britain since the Plowden report (1967) and was prioritised internationally for parents of children with Special Educational Needs (SEN) by the Salamanca statement (1994). British government initiatives such as Involving Parents, Raising Achievement (DfES, 2003) and ‘Every Parent Matters’ (DfES, 2007) have been developed to encourage the collaboration between families and schools. Various reports, e.g. the Lamb Inquiry (DfES, 2009) and Parents, Carers, Schools (DfES, 2007), have been commissioned to measure the effectiveness of these initiatives and the quality of collaboration between families and schools. A Cross-cultural research project between Western Europe and America (Smit et al., 2008) sought to determine how collaboration between families and schools could be improved. Despite these measures, there remains a lack of agreement about how best to develop these relationships and also how to overcome obstacles which may be more evident within multi-cultural, urban school settings.
The majority of education systems within Western Europe and North America have devised systems that attempt to develop collaboration between the home and school. In some parts of Europe the establishment of systems has been relatively new and therefore required pedagogical changes (Rabusicova and Pol, 1995). Despite common structures e.g. parent-school consultation evenings and Parent-Teacher Associations (PTAs), being a foundation for partnership across all schools, urban and rural, public or private, there still remains a lack of evaluation on their effectiveness at engaging with parents. Therefore, the need for the research stemmed from needing a greater understanding of the effectiveness of these systems from the parents’ perspectives. Additionally, due to the complex urban environment of the school, it was essential to understand possible barriers to a greater partnership.
The research focused on evaluating the current methods used to develop partnerships between the home and the school, namely: face-to-face contact, written communication and home-learning as well as uncovering possible obstacles. Improved outcomes for young people through an improved parent-school partnership would hopefully be achieved by evaluating these from a parent-centred approach. The research questions can be summarised as follows:
- Face-to-face contact: What were parent perceptions about the effectiveness of parent-teacher consultation meetings? How did parents perceive less formal face-to-face contact?
- Written communication: Did written communication help to nurture relationships between home and school? Were there more effective methods that could be introduced?
- Home-learning: How did this impact on parents? Was this perceived as part of the partnership between home and school or an added burden?
- Barriers: What did the parents perceive as possible barriers to the solidarity between home and school?
Beveridge, S. (2005) Children, Families and Schools: Developing Partnerships for Inclusive Education. London: Routledge Falmer. British Educational Communications and Technology Agency (2010) I’m Stuck Can You Help Me? A report into parents’ involvement in school work at home. Coventry: BECTA. Department of Education and Science (1967) Children and Their Primary Schools: The Plowden Report. London: HMSO. Department for Children, Schools and Families (2009) Lamb Inquiry: Special Educational Needs and Parental Confidence. London: DCSF. Department for Education and Skills (2007) Every Parent Matters. London: DfES. Department for Education and Skills (2003) Materials for Schools: Involving Parents, Raising Achievement. London: DfES. Hallgarten, J. (2000) Parents Exist, OK!? Issues and Visions for Parent-school relations. London: Institute for Public Policy Research. Lareau, A. (2000) Home Advantage: Social Class and Parental Intervention in Elementary Education. Oxford: Rowman and Littlefield Publishers, Inc. Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Schools (2007) Parents, Carers and Schools. London: OfSTED. Rabusicova, M. and Pol, M. (1995) School/Family Relationships in the New Social Climate: the Case of the Czech Republic in the 1990’s. In: European Conference on Educational Research (ECER), University of Bath, 1995. Bath: ECER. Sheldon, S. (2003) Linking School-Family-Community Partnerships in Urban Elementary Schools to Student Achievement on State Tests. The Urban Review. 35 (2), 149-165. Smit, F., Driessen, G., Sleegers, P. and Teelken, C. (2008) Scrutinizing the balance: parental care versus educational responsibilities in a changing society. Early Child Development and Care. 178 (1), 65-80. Tomlinson, S. (1993) Ethnic minorities: involved partners or problem parents? In: Munn, P. (ed.) Parents and Schools. London: Routledge. pp. 131-147. United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (1994) The Salamanca Statement and Framework for Action on Special Needs Education. Paris: UNESCO. Wolfendale, S. (1992) Empowering Parents and Teachers. London: Cassell.
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