Good Practice: How a programme developed in the US is helping to boost parental involvement at a Manchester school
Friday, May 27, 2011
Parents who have taken part in the Families and Schools Together initiative say they now enjoy improved relationships with their children and school staff and feel more able to to make choices about their child's education
Project Families and Schools Together (Fast) at Aspinal Primary School.
Funding £26,000 from First Group
To boost parental involvement in school and their children's learning
Aspinal Primary School in Gorton, Manchester, wanted to increase parents' involvement in school life. The school had already set up a parents' cafe, but more needed to be done to reach the most isolated, says head teacher Neil Flint.
So when he heard the charity Save the Children was looking for schools to pilot its Families and Schools Together scheme, he jumped at the chance.
Fast is an eight-week programme developed in the US that works with families who have threeto five-year-olds. It involves sessions where children and parents do everyday tasks together such as cooking and eating a meal. It also coaches parents to read and play with their children and helps them to set boundaries.
The school tested the scheme with a group of families last year. Flint admits it was a bit of a struggle to get families to take part. "We had to do a lot of arm-twisting," he says. But he was impressed with the results. "It has given parents a support network," he says. "They have more confidence, a sense of belonging and feel they can make a difference." One mum has become a parent governor, while others have joined the parent teacher association.
"It works because it is about building relationships," concludes Flint. "It's helping families to come together, sit together, eat together, play together — and that's how communities are formed."
Of the 14 families that agreed to take part, 11 attended at least six of the eight sessions and graduated - a 79 per cent retention rate.
Parents reported improved relationships with children — 100 per cent said listening, talking, understanding and playing with their child had become easier. They also reported improvements in behaviour, relationships with school staff and "huge positive changes in the support they received from other parents".
At the end of the programme, 91 per cent agreed they had more knowledge and information about their child's education and were better able to provide support, 82 per cent were more able to make choices about their child's education and 62 per cent felt more able to contribute to school life.
The school is running a second Fast course in September.