14 SES 06 B, Local Organisations/Authorities and Networking in Education
The election of a new United Kingdom government in May 2010 saw a change in the direction of public policy in many spheres. The full impact of the resulting policy realignment has yet to be established. However, in one area - that of parenting programmes and family education – some continuity appears to be developing. The previous Labour government introduced a wide range of family focused initiatives and interventions designed to support families and improve individual, family, and social outcomes. This UK approach was mirrored in European developments. In particular, the Council of Europe commissioned important work in respect of positive parenting and the role of governments and parents in family life (Daly, ed. 2007); and in 2006, the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe recommended that member states should adopt of a range of measures to ‘promote positive parenting as an essential part of the support provided for parenting’ (Council of Europe, 2006). As part of the development of its parenting strategy, the current UK government commissioned two reports (Field, 2010; and Allen, 2011) to examine issues relating to families, parenting, poverty, and the role of early intervention. These reports have strengthened the case for the provision of evidence-based parenting programmes, albeit within the context of fiscal stringency.
Local Authorities (LAs) in England have benefited from a parenting initiative – the Parenting Early Intervention Programme (PEIP) – that was in place from September 2006-March 2011. This initiative was rolled out in three waves across England’s LAs, with the first wave, running September 2006-March 2008, providing £7.6 million of central government funding to 18 LAs to implement one of three evidence-based parenting programmes for parents of children aged 8-13. In 2008-2011, two further waves rolled out the PEIP across all English LAs with two further evidence-based programmes added to the original three. The five evidence-based parenting programmes used under the PEIP represented best practice on an international level. The widespread adoption of these five programmes across LAs in England have given the programmes a high degree of prominence in the arena of early intervention and parenting.
This paper focuses on one of the PEIP programmes – Families and Schools Together (FAST). Of the five PEIP programmes, FAST exhibits a particular approach to issues of parent-child relationships, combined with the development of school-family links, and community building, that are not present in the other four PEIP programmes. The paper focuses on the qualitative and quantitative evidence of parents and school staff involved in FAST courses to provide a detailed, textured picture of the processes of building links between schools and families, between family members, and within the communities. The paper grew out of the national evaluation of the PEIP, undertaken by the Centre for Educational Development, Appraisal and Research (CEDAR), the University of Warwick.
The main theoretical frameworks underpinning the paper are those drawn from social learning theory (Patterson & Gullion, 1968), and the more humanistic, psychotherapeutic theory approach (e.g., Gordon, 1975).
Allen, Graham (2011), Early Intervention: The Next Steps; an Independent Report to Her Majesty’s Government, London, HM Government. Council of Europe (2006). Recommendation Rec(2006)19 of the Committee of Ministers to member states on policy to support positive parenting. Strasbourg, The Council of Europe. Daly, M. (ed.) (2007). Parenting in contemporary Europe: a positive approach. Strasbourg, Council of Europe. Field, Frank (2010), The Foundation Years: preventing poor children becoming poor adults; the report of the Independent Review on Poverty and Life Chances, London, HM Government. Gordon, T. (1975). Parent Effectiveness Training. New York, Peter Wyden. Patterson, G. & Gullion, M. (1968). Living with Children; New Methods for Parents and Teachers. Champaign, Illinois, Research Press.
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