Parents sign up for exam boost

14th December 2007 at 00:00
Getting parents more involved in their children's education is a key part of the Children's Plan. And it is not left to chance at Barry Comprehensive, a boys' school in South Wales where parents sign agreements committing themselves to encouraging their teenagers to work hard for their GCSEs.

One section of the contract reads: "WeI realise he can perform better than he did in Year 10 and will encourage him to study at home."

Teachers are chosen to act as mentors, another practice encouraged by the Children's Plan. They meet boys every week and set targets with their parents in early January, based on earlier performance.

"It is really important that pupils see the targets as achievable," said Lyn Howell, assistant head at Barry. "Otherwise they are much less likely to keep working hard."

Parents also attend a special meeting in the Easter holidays where they are tutored in learning styles and memory techniques.

The school adopted its parent-centred approach six years ago. GCSE results have improved dramatically since. The proportion of boys achieving five or more GCSEs reached 73 per cent last year, up from 42 per cent in 2001.

"There are not many children who can organise their coursework, organise their revision and keep up their spirits without their parents," Mr Howell said.

"However for some parents, their only experience of school is negative. The challenge is to overcome their initial resistance."

Mr Howell said he had gone through the whole Year 11 experience with his son last year. "It gave me a flavour of the pressure pupils and parents are under," he said.

As one parent wrote on a feedback form after one session on revision techniques at the school: "Extremely helpful - will prevent many rows."

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