Balancing parental support and independence for 16-18 year olds in continuing education – FE News

The active involvement of parents and guardians in education and school life is strongly correlated with academic achievement – ​​more, according to long-standing research, than with the quality of the school itself. (for example Becher, 1989).

However, the challenge that educators and researchers have faced is that it is difficult to find a strong link between interventions that increase parental involvement and improved child outcomes. The reality is that high parental involvement and high achievement just seem to be found together.

This does not mean that increasing parental involvement is impossible or undesirable, but that causality is more complicated; there are factors that mediate the effects of parental involvement. Obviously, these include class capital and social capital, which are usually outside the change mandate of a sixth grader.

However, they also include parental beliefs and attitudes towards education and the quality of communication between educational institutions and parents, which are more malleable.

Parental Support for the Transition at 16

Acting on the basis that parental involvement is powerful is made even more difficult by the transition to post-16 education, particularly when it means students attending a new institution such as sixth form or middle school. Higher Education. As the difficulty and specificity of the material studied increases, it becomes much less likely that parents will understand what their child is working on day-to-day – whether it is analysis of English literature or approaches practices of health and social care delivery.

16-18 Year Old are After Independent

The subjects their child is learning are now often far removed from their own work or school experiences, and so it becomes more difficult to directly support education through homework help or content discussion. There is also the simple fact that 16-18 year olds are rightly expected to be more independent, and therefore less involved in their parents.

It’s rare for a sixth-grade middle school or 16-19 school to have a PTA/”Friends of” group. Two years is a short time for most parents to become involved in a college community when their children are, at least in theory, old enough to manage their own learning and activities. This does not mean, however, that they cannot add value to this learning at all. We just have to be very intentional in how we choose to involve parents.

Parental Communication by Middle School Leaders

While many parents may be unable to enrich their children’s knowledge of sixth grade content, they can have a major positive effect by helping them ingrain effective habits related to learning. For example, an entire college could decide, based on research evidence and some recent Ofsted comments, to institute a stricter policy on mobile phone use in lessons or on campus. Or the history manager may decide, after being inspired by other institutions in their MAT or college group, that their A-level students will receive more feedback through group discussions and less written grading. .

Chris Atherton, principal of Sir John Deane’s College in Cheshire and co-author of What Every parent should know about education, discusses the implementation of this latest policy in all subjects and its communication to parents. As he writes, too much communication on disparate topics, from homework deadlines to travel payments, can drive parents away. While there are educational benefits to texting parents with regular reminders like this in elementary schools, as the Education Endowment Foundation has done foundsimilar US research with 18-year-olds found no effect (Castleman and Page, 2017).

So while colleges should have effective systems in place to reach parents with urgent and wellness-related messages, it makes sense to be targeted and specific with educational communications to parents. Changes, especially those that students may not agree with or not fully understand, are more important than individual deadlines – and allowing parents to back up college choices and explain them to students allows the college learning culture to extend to the home.

Chris Atherton discovered that it is essential to explain both the “why” and the “how” of a practice such as grade reduction, make it concrete for parents, link it to college values ​​and repeat in a wide variety of contexts with simple statements. Most importantly, parents need to see the change happen; make sure it’s applied in all classrooms and has the positive effect you hoped for, then communicate it to parents so they can reinforce the message at home.

When Not to Use Parental Engagement

The areas where parents can – or should – help vary by setting and student. For students with high needs, or just those procrastinating, proven methods like texting parents and guardians about upcoming deadlines can be very powerful. This support can be phased out as students become more confident in scheduling their homework in a timely manner. To benefit from the participation and commitment of parents after 16 years, you have to know when not to use it!

Recommendation 1

School and school leaders after 16 should be selective, identifying the most important area of ​​learning for 16-18 year olds in their setting where parents can have the greatest impact.

Recommendation 2

Headteachers and school leaders after 16 should be sensitive to their parent population. If many parents do not read English well, text-based communications are likely to be less effective than face-to-face conversations where leaders can gauge understanding. Digital poverty is a similar factor.

Recommendation 3

School leaders and teachers in post-16 colleges and schools should consider how best to balance building autonomy and self-regulation for their students with engaging the power of parental persuasion, which can undermine this independence.

By Noni Csogor, Research and Policy Manager, Sixth Form Colleges Association

Read the Campaign for Learning press release here.

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