Friday 23 June 2017

School grades its parents on their support of children's education

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Tom Ough

A primary school is grading parents on how much they support their children, it has emerged.

Parents of pupils at Greasley Beauvale primary school, in Newthorpe, Notts in the UK, are marked from A to D based on their involvement with their children’s education.

The system is intended to improve the children's performance at school by encouraging their mothers and fathers to attend events, such as parents’ evenings and plays, and help with learning at home.

It has been in place since 2011 and has become public knowledge thanks to an Ofsted report this week which commended the school for its “startling” results.

“For many children at this school, it is making a huge difference,” wrote Sir Michael Wilshaw, head of Ofsted, assessing Nottinghamshire schools in his final annual report.

He said that children of parents in groups A and B make significantly better progress than those whose parents are in groups C and D, but that the system ensures less-engaged parents are productively supported by the school.

“Telling a parent what the impact their lack of engagement is having on the life chances of their child is not easy,” wrote Sir Michael. “But for many children at this school, it is making a huge difference.”

Not all parents are enamoured of being graded. “They’ll have us all wearing dunce’s hats next,” said a mother-of-one, who did not wish to be named. “It’s absolutely ludicrous.”

She said that “it’s one thing when your child gets a bad grade, but now they openly embarrass their parents too.”

Another mother, who argued that the move had unfairly shifted responsibility from teachers to parents, said: “I thought I was past the dreaded school report, but trust parents to bring it back.

“I try not to take notice of it, but it really irritates me that they are sat in the staff room judging us all and giving us marks too.

“Those parents who work nine to five won't have time to have as much input as, say, stay-at-home mums who have the time to contribute more and go to more school events.”

But Pat Walker, 63, whose eight-year-old granddaughter attends the school, supports the scheme.

She said: "I think it's very beneficial to the pupils and the parents and the grandparents as well.”

In his report, Sir Michael praised the school’s “inspirational” headteacher Donna Chambers, who came up with the system after becoming “frustrated with some parents’ reluctance to support their children in school.”

Ms Chambers said the most difficult part of the project had been having hour-long conversations with parents who the school believed could be doing more.

“I have always been known as saying it as it is," she said. “I sat down and showed them the criteria and statistics on how it could affect their child's learning but I reassured them we could work together.”

Ms Chambers said that between 15 per cent and 20 per cent of parents started out in the lower categories, but that had now been reduced to just two per cent.

“That one-hour initial conversation saying they could improve will pay dividends for the rest of that child's academic life,” she said.

Greasley Beauvale caters for 346 pupils, aged four to 11, and was rated "good" by Ofsted at its last inspection in May this year – a step up from the "requires improvement" verdict delivered before the grading was introduced.

Telegraph.co.uk

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