With parental involvement high on the Government's agenda and prominent in the media, the National Confederation of Parent Teacher Associations (NCPTA) has a keen interest in what this means for parents.
The NCPTA represents over seven million parents all over the UK who are actively involved in their children's education. Parental involvement can span the whole education period and is of value whether your child is four or 18. Current US-based research highlights the contribution that parental involvement can have on children's achievement. Figures show parental factors account for up to 80 per cent of attainment compared with school factors, which have a maximum effect of between 8 and 20 per cent.
This year, to support parents and as part of its 50th anniversary celebrations, the NCPTA launched a new award scheme to encourage and recognise parental involvement in education. The LEAPP (Learning Education and Parental Partnership) awards schools with dedicated funding to help get more parents involved in their children's education.
They aim to develop frontline educational practice and are intended for individual schools or schools working in partnership. The first LEAPP winners were presented with their £2,000 awards in June this year, providing the start-up funding for all of the winning projects to get underway for the new academic year (2006-7). Although varied, all of the winning ideas focused on one key aim: to get parents involved, and especially those that are traditionally harder to reach.
The following winners give a flavour of the type of projects parents are undertaking:
Hope Valley College, Derbyshire
Reflecting a common thread, Hope Valley College has identified that many of its students who underachieve have little or no constructive parental engagement. To help these children, the LEAPP funding will be used to provide dedicated parental support for their parents from the point the children join the school.
Tolworth Junior School, Surrey
For many parents of children at Tolworth Junior School, English is not their first language and so communication can be problematic. LEAPP funding will be used to provide workshops for parents with English as an additional language. The workshops key aim is to improve parents' understanding of, and participation in, school life.
Will Grove Primary SEBD School, Wigan
Will Grove is a special needs school and will be using their LEAPP award cash to make a new sensory room available for parents to spend time with their child and so improve child/parent relationships. Portable sensory packs will also be developed for those parents who are unable to come into school.
The LEAPP awards for 2007 will be launched this month and are open to both members and non-members of the NCPTA. Meanwhile, the NCPTA want to continue to support creative initiatives that will get all parents involved in their children's education.
Annette Wiles is the policy and research manager at NCPTA. Visit www.ncpta.org.uk to find out more about this year's LEAPP winners and for information on the awards for 2007, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org