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HELPFUL OR DESTRUCTIVE

Headlines in the media during the past term have left both parents and teachers feeling confused and undervalued. On the one hand, Ed Balls, School Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families, addressing a conference of head teachers, is pledging government support to tackle parents who refuse to accept that teachers have a right to discipline their children. On the other hand, the government is encouraging schools to set up separate Parents Councils and are allowing parents to trigger Ofsted Inspections. 

The Parental Involvement in Children’s Education survey discovered that 92% of parents found school to be welcoming to parents 

Mick Brookes, General Secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers feels that the pendulum is swinging in favour of the ‘consumer’. Speaking to Nicola Woolcock of the Times, he notes that the government is encouraging parents in their sense of entitlement when, in fact: “In schools, working with parents is absolutely essential and the best relationships have an equality of understanding.” 

The most ideal situation is when the parents and teachers respect and trust each other

“The most ideal situation is when the parents and teachers respect and trust each other,” says Diana Watkins, Chairman-Elect of the Independent Association of Preparatory Schools (IAPS). Parent forums that come together with the head teacher to discuss the school, attitudes to discipline, bullying, rewarding good behaviour, breadth of curriculum and current educational issues are much more likely to develop good working relationships. In this way, parents know what to expect and, if they have a problem, they understand the basis on which the head teacher and staff make recommendations.” 

The Parental Involvement in Children’s Education survey discovered that 92% of parents found school to be welcoming to parents. They also noted a moderate shift in parents’ attitudes away from a child’s education being the school’s responsibility towards it being more equal or mainly or wholly a parent’s responsibility.