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Father's Day

The full involvement of fathers in their children's upbringing is as necessary as it is beneficial.

Last Tuesday I visited The Priory Primary in Slough and heard how Jacqueline Laver, its head, has organised a 'dads in schools day' for three years running. The inspiration for this was twofold. The Priory has significant numbers of single parent families and a wide variety of split and extended families.

Teachers found they spent most of their time liaising with mum and rarely had the opportunity to meet dad. Fathers can now take an active part in their children's education. Those who had an unhappy experience at school can see how education has changed.

More importantly it emphasises that fathers are as important as mothers.

When both parents take a pro-active interest in their children's education it gives that child a huge advantage. A recent study showed more than 70 per cent of parents wanted more involvement.

One way schools can help to alleviate the problems for separated couples is by holding different parents evenings for mothers and fathers. This can reduce the risk of parents bickering, or of fathers perceiving that these events are the mother's obligation. Now the reality is all schools aren't necessarily going to be forced into having separate parents' evenings or dads in schools days, but these are excellent examples of finding creative solutions to the problem of how to involve parents more fully in their children's education.

I would be delighted to see other schools learning from this example and seeing what works for them.

Alan Johnson is Education Secretary.

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