NORTHERN Ireland teachers have welcomed the fact that parents today believe they are more involved with their children’s education than a generation ago.
According to the latest research 71%* of parents believe that they are more in touch with their family’s schools than their parents were, says Coleraine teacher Jacquie Reid, now with the Ulster Teachers’ Union.
“The survey was carried out among parents throughout the UK, including Northern Ireland, and makes for heartening reading as the importance of parental input into a child’s education cannot be over-emphasised,” she continued.
“While people think children are educated in school, in fact they spend 70% of their time outside school and for the first four years of their lives their parents are their primary educators.
“At this present time of cuts and rationed resources it is essential that the child receives every possible support in their learning at home as research has consistently shown that parental involvement in children’s education does make a positive difference to pupils’ achievement
“Indeed, increased parental involvement could help teachers bridge at least some shortfalls in resources. Over the last decade schools and teachers have been asked to shoulder a growing responsibility for youth culture with suggestions that many of its problems could be resolved within schools.
“However neither parents nor schools alone should be shouldered with that responsibility. Everyone throughout the community has a role to play – and it begins with parents.
“Education Minister John O’Dowd made that very point recently when he was launching the final report of the Numeracy and Literacy Taskforce. He said forging strong links between schools and their community was particularly important and that he was keen to work on ways of promoting the value placed on education by society. He said one way of doing this was through greater parental engagement in education.
“Research shows the numerous benefits from well-implemented school and community partnership programmes. They include increased student attendance, higher achievement, a sense of greater security, fewer behavioural problems, and an increase in positive attitudes about school and homework.
Adult and community participation validates the necessity of school for children and encourages them to study harder.
“Research has also demonstrated an important role for fathers in helping increase student achievement. Children whose fathers are involved with schools have a higher likelihood of getting better grades than those whose mothers alone are involved.
“Because many traditional programmes for parental involvement have really meant maternal involvement, it is important that family and school connection programmes reach out to fathers and work to include them in as many types of school-related activities as possible.”
* Statistics are based on a poll of 1,000 parents by the NAHT throughout the UK, including Northern Ireland