Parents urged to increase schools contact

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The Independent Online

Parents are taking a back seat in their child's education, with almost two thirds saying they have little contact with their youngster's teacher, a survey found today.

Over one in five (22 per cent) of parents say they do not see the benefit in keeping in regular contact with their child's school, according to a poll by the government's technology agency Becta.

Two thirds of teachers (67 per cent) said these parents do not realise how important their support is in helping their child to succeed at school.

More than one in five teachers (22 per cent) feel they do not have enough contact with parents.

Becta is leading a campaign urging parents to talk to schools about using modern technology to keep in touch.

It says that communications between parents and schools can be improved by using email and text messaging, and enabling parents to follow their child's progress, including their achievements, homework assignments and attendance records online.

Their survey, of 2,000 parents and 1,000 teachers across England, shows that 59 per cent of parents contact their child's teacher just once a term or less.

More than one in five (22 per cent) say they don't want to add to the teacher's workload.

Two fifths (42 per cent) of teachers say that parents lack the confidence to approach the school to discuss their child, while a similar proportion (43 per cent) admit that parents might find them "difficult to approach".

One in 10 parents (11 per cent) say they think they will be dismissed by the teacher as a "worrier" while the same proportion say they feel they're "imposing on the teacher's time".

Becta executive director Niel McLean said: "Parental engagement is vital to a child's learning and known to help raise attainment. To do this effectively, there needs to be a meaningful dialogue between parent and school, keeping the parent informed and updated.

"Becta believes technology, such as online reporting and text alerts, can create 'virtual classrooms' and can support a new, more effective partnership between parents and schools.

"These tools allow parents to be better informed and have more productive discussions with schools, something which our research shows parents are really receptive to.

"Schools need to ensure that they are able to deliver these to the benefit of parents, teachers and students."

TV presenter Emma Forbes, who is backing the Next Generation Learning campaign, said: "As a parent, I can sympathise with the challenge schools have to encourage parents to become more involved in their child's education.

"It's all too easy to think when you drop your child at the school gates that your responsibility ends there.

"Introducing tools like online reporting is so important as it provides parents with a simple and convenient way of keeping track of their child's work, curriculum and homework assignments, without always having to contact their teachers directly."