For a child of any age – and I am including teenagers here- it is very difficult to study if you are not supported at home. I lectured in a college for further education and we had many students who had failed at school and were now looking to improve. However, the colleges also need to engage the parents in the first place, as many themselves did not do well at school and see little incentive to encourage their children to study.
Many of the youngsters at the college received little or no support from home and the basics like a place to study, money for appropriate clothing and bus fares were not supplied by the family so the student either had to work as well as study, or manage on a very small government grant.
Many of these students would have been written off at school but our college made very effort to speak to, inform and involve the parents. Some liked the communication, some did not. Those who benefited most were the students whose parents suddenly realized the importance of their child’s education. Getting them involved was a key to turning the school around.
It worked – so well that we have a group of parents demanding improvement. They come to every open evening (previously staff outnumbered the students) and became really pro-active.
The difference was made because staff actually talked to parents – many were from families who had been dismissed as ‘no hopers’ and having someone from the college talk to them made them realize that their kids were bright, capable and worthy. They could achieve success. They too were worthy and their expectations for their children grew.
Some ignored any communication and their children did less well, although the college offered in-school support so even here, there was the chance to improvement but the student had to turn up in the first place, which meant getting home support.
Involving parents and making them feel part of the education process undoubtedly has a huge effect in turning around low performing schools, as our college’s attitude showed. Instead of giving up, the whole ethos of involving parents too injected a whole new impetus into college life and education.
Our school went from being a low achieving one to a higher achieving academy.
Many students went on to further study and four years after the implementation of the new strategies we have a very active PTA, a student union for the post 16 age groups and several after hours study support groups to help students who cannot study well at home.
Without parental involvement these schemes would fall on their faces, so parental involvement is paramount to success and turning around low performing schools – we proved it!