'Teachers are forced to do CPD? Why not parents, too?'

Parents should have to spend at least one day a year being trained about education and teaching, says Colin Harris

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We are endlessly told about the value of CPD for teachers, but how about continuous training for parents?

Let’s go further: how about making it mandatory for parents to attend a training session at their child's school for a minimum of a day a year for the entire length of their child's school life?

This is one way we could truly build relationships with parents and to make them an active resource for the school.

At present the gap between parents and schools is vast. Whatever the reasons for this is irrelevant compared to the need to build a more meaningful and fruitful relationship.

This is not easy. Parents are a vastly diverse demographic and as such it is difficult for teachers to forge strong relationships with all of them. If, however, a day was set aside to explain the intricacies of school life and what we attempt to teach, it would mean the process could be kickstarted with everyone on the same page.

Engaging parents in school life

We could tackle the language we use at schools, the curriculum and, of course, how tests are used and analysed. We could also ask parents to produce a report on their child, reflecting on their behaviour at home, their motivation, and their passions.

We could also explore the curriculum and what the school is teaching and why. An explanation could be given on the choice that schools make between educating a child and teaching a child to pass the test. Parents may at long last realise that we neither have the freedom or time to do both.

There is more, of course. Both sides could spend time exploring each individual child’s personality and personal development. Through this, parents could help develop teacher strategies.

Parents would become engaged in thinking about education, in asking questions about values, curriculum and skills. The more that mums and dads think about the nature of schooling, the better.

You might think that this all sounds rather like a pipe dream – and you’d be right, in a way. But – for better or worse – education is constantly changing and constantly evolving – so why not make this change while we’re at it?

In doing so teachers would have allies at home who can help with the full range of responsibilities associated with a child's education – and become better informed while actually in the classroom.

Best of all, teachers will gain a greater understanding of each individual child and how best to support them. That, surely, makes it a no-brainer.

Colin Harris led a school in a deprived area of Portsmouth for more than two decades. His last two Ofsted reports were 'outstanding' across all categories

To read more of Colin's articles, visit his back catalogue


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