Leading article: Luring parents past the school gates

Share
Related Topics
Contracts between parents and schools are a good idea. Advocated by both Conservative and Labour politicians in the past, and implemented with great success in Birmingham already, they are an effective way of drawing parents into their children's education. After John Major signalled an interest in parental contracts at the weekend, the proposal was hastily tacked on to the launch yesterday of new government proposals on selection in schools. But while the proposed changes to school admissions could be extremely damaging, divisive and discriminatory, the home-school contracts could make a real difference to improving education standards across the board.

The old days when parents rarely ventured farther than the school gate are long gone. Education is no longer the prerogative of the professional teacher. Children can learn much after the school bell rings at a quarter to four. A supportive, enthusiastic mum or dad who helps with homework can make a considerable difference to a child's progress. Meanwhile, the regular exchange of information between parents and teachers can help to avoid misunderstandings about the problems that individual children face. So keen, concerned parents are often welcomed into the classroom, rather than dismissed as pushy or interfering. The more parents feel able to play an active role in educating their offspring, the more successful those children are likely to be.

Many parents - and not just the middle classes - already participate actively in their children's education. Comprehensives across the country are brimming with lively parent-teacher associations, organising jumble sales and activity weekends. Those who don't get involved are rarely bad parents. Unused to the idea of regular trips into school, they may simply feel intimidated by academic establishments. Perhaps their own parents paid little attention to their schooling and they are unaware of how much good they could do. A formalised framework can set out exactly what they should expect and what the school expects from them.

Typical contracts could include telling parents what their child is to be taught, how they are progressing and what standards they can achieve. At the same time, parents should ensure that their children are punctual and appropriately dressed for school, and have done their homework. The contract, signed as the child first enters the school, would embody the best intentions of the school and the parents to provide a good education for the child.

The Government's School Improvement Council has now been charged with examining the benefits of home-school contracts. They should get a move on, and introduce them across the country.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - Spanish Speaking

£17000 - £21000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - German Speaking

£17000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - Japanese Speaking

£17000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: If you are fluent in Japanese a...

Recruitment Genius: Graphic Designer - Immediate Start

£16000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Dom Joly owns a pig. That thinks it's a dog.  

I'll bow out. Let Wilbur, the pig that thinks it's a dog, bring home the bacon

Dom Joly
 

Forget charging by the page - with books, heart matters more than heft

Katy Guest
The Greek referendum exposes a gaping hole at the heart of the European Union – its distinct lack of any genuine popular legitimacy

Gaping hole at the heart of the European Union

Treatment of Greece has shown up a lack of genuine legitimacy
Number of young homeless in Britain 'more than three times the official figures'

'Everything changed when I went to the hostel'

Number of young homeless people in Britain is 'more than three times the official figures'
Compton Cricket Club

Compton Cricket Club

Portraits of LA cricketers from notorious suburb to be displayed in London
London now the global money-laundering centre for the drug trade, says crime expert

Wlecome to London, drug money-laundering centre for the world

'Mexico is its heart and London is its head'
The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court that helps a winner keep on winning

The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court

It helps a winner keep on winning
Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

Is this the future of flying?

Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

Isis are barbarians

but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

Call of the wild

How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate
Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

The science of swearing

What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

Africa on the menu

Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'