Comment: Parents need support in role as co-educators
Barbara Hearn, NCB deputy chief executive
Thursday 10 September 2009
The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and
Development (OECD) report released last week was good news for
children in the UK. It showed that UK families are supported in
bringing up their children through government investment more than
most other OECD member countries.
But there are areas of weakness and today's young people do need
extra attention. We are right to be concerned that there is still a
troublesome level of young people not in education, employment or
training (especially in a time of recession).
In order to help those families most in need - where parents are
working hard, sometimes in several jobs, to meet the needs of their
children, or facing problems such as drug or alcohol misuse or
mental illness - investment needs to be stepped up.
The real issue is about the relationship between school, parent
and pupil. Every child needs the help of their parents and wider
family to support them through learning. Many schools recognise
that children need support at home to get the best out of their
education but, where this is not available, there needs to be
provision that helps parents take on their role as co-educators.
Without a learning savvy adult at home, children who are bright can
under-perform significantly and those who are less able will not
achieve their potential.
"Reducing Inequalities" (by Feinstein, Hearn et al)
reviewed data over nearly 40 years and concluded that "a parent
supporting a child's learning is consistently significant in
improving the child's outcomes, regardless of the parents' social
class, education or wealth. Developing parents' skills as the
'first teacher' will do a great deal to reduce inequalities".
It is therefore essential that additional investment targets
parents of under-16s in their co-educator role and finds ways to
fill the gap for more disadvantaged children.