Enterprise needs parent help

6th February 2004 at 00:00
Parents must be more centrally involved if enterprise education is to take off.

This is the conclusion of a paper from Strathclyde University on the role of parents and families in the initiative. It supports the view in the Scottish Executive's Determined to Succeed report that all local authorities must develop a strategy for communicating the policy to parents and carers.

The report, from the university's enterprising careers centre, says that parents must be able to call on "unbiased materials from an accredited source". Specialised family programmes are suggested.

But the authors of the report - Sheila Semple, the centre's director, and Linda Brownlow, deputy director - also urge a more radical approach than awareness-raising. This would "recognise the major influence of parents and families and see them as active agents of some of the desired changes".

The research was influenced by findings from earlier studies by Ms Semple, which suggest that parents help their children through what they read and learn at home, rather than by attending school events. In one of these investigations, the six secondary schools involved had to call off careers events because too few parents turned up.

One of the reasons was that children did not want their parents to go along. Others were lack of confidence and family or shift work commitments.

In one school, however, parents did attend a careers event in "unprecedented large numbers" because they had previously been involved in home-based learning activities.

A particular problem for parents in dealing with enterprise education may be their own anxiety about their children's future. As one says: "Sometimes I'm just saying to her, 'don't take any risks, play it safe', and that's no right. I know that."

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