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Parental engagement in school education

If elected in March 2018, a Marshall Liberal Government will encourage and support parents to actively participate in their child’s learning and schooling in a number of ways.

The Opportunity

Most parents want to be actively involved in their child’s school education, and that is great news. Research shows that positive engagement by parents, in effective partnership with the school, can have significant educational benefits, particularly in how much a student achieves at school.

Some of our schools are doing this very well at the moment, but every school has its own challenges and their own innovators, and practices can always be improved.

Some schools engage particularly well through technology and school based apps that share information with teachers and parents. Some schools have many parents volunteering in classrooms, helping with reading or numeracy.

While there is an array of approaches, research shows that while the involvement of parents in the school environment has strong social and community benefits, the most significant educational impact is achieved by effective parental engagement in learning in the home environment.

The State Liberal's Plan

If elected in March 2018, a Marshall Liberal Government will encourage and support parents to actively participate in their child’s learning and schooling in a number of ways.

We will:

  • Provide resources to help parents understand how to most effectively engage with their child’s education
  • Ensure all schools provide avenues for parents to engage with teachers about their child’s education, including advanced notice of learning milestones and parental/child learning support strategies
  • Recognise the innovative work already being undertaken at some schools to improve parental engagement, including through the use of new technologies, and ensure that sharing best practice across schools is a priority for all Education Directors
  • Ensure professional development opportunities for teachers include new best practice models in effectively engaging with parents

Learning in the home

At-home involvement of parents in a child’s education means much more than helping with homework. It also means spending time sharing the child’s learning experience, and providing encouragement and affirmation of learning milestones.

Even two minutes at the dinner table each night sharing what happened during the day at school is a benefit, connecting with and supporting the student and providing the parents with a better understanding of life at school from a child’s perspective.

This is particularly important for parents of children with learning difficulties such as dyslexia who are often put in a position where they are searching for answers about how they can best contribute to helping the school ensure their child gets the special help needed.

While, for some parents, a deeper engagement in education is a challenge, professionally developed resources will be provided to give parents confidence in how they can get involved.

A Marshall Liberal Government will ensure through schools, parent groups and other NGOs that these resources are available to help parents understand how to gain maximum positive impact in their engagement with their child’s education.

Engagement between parents and teachers

While involvement between parents and their children at home is considered to have the most significant impact on educational achievement, school-based involvement of parents remains important. Strong parent-teacher relationships are a key part of supporting a child’s learning and active engagement at school. Teaching is more effective if parents can collaborate with, and reinforce school-based learning.

A Marshall Liberal Government will encourage structured and informal parent-teacher partnerships that maximise opportunities to reinforce learning and good study practices, provide a shared framework for addressing difficulties that a student may have, and give the student a clear integrated (school-home) learning environment.

Sharing best practice

While some schools are working well in improving parental engagement, their success too often exists in isolation. A Marshall Government will ensure that all Educational Directors working across schools will treat parental engagement as a priority, so innovative practices can be shared across schools and across South Australia.

Professional Development for teachers

Research on this topic in our state has suggested that effective parent engagement represents a gap in training for some teachers - and we know that all teachers benefit from opportunities to stay at the cutting edge of modern pedagogy. It will be a priority of a Marshall Liberal Government to ensure sufficient professional development opportunities are provided for teachers in schools seeking to improve positive engagement with parents.