From education to employment

Parents are not stepping back from their children’s education

Emma Slater, Director of Education, GCSEPod

School was not out this summer! 

Parents want the best for their children in every aspect of their lives and this is especially true when it comes to their education.  We have all heard stories about the extreme lengths parents have gone to to get their child into a certain school.  From bidding wars on houses in the right catchment area to paying through the nose for tutors to get them through their 11+.

Making sure your child went to a good school was, by and large, the single most important aspect of a parent’s involvement in their child’s education.  Having achieved this, many parents relaxed, knowing that other than helping out with the odd bit of homework over the dinner table, their children’s education was in the hands of education professionals.

The pandemic changed all of this, and parents were forced to dive headfirst into their children’s education and take on a level of responsibility for it they never would have anticipated previously. They saw behind the curtain and they are now better informed than ever before on what their children are learning about, and crucially, how well they are learning it.

During the summer holidays, GCSEPod wanted to help students who felt behind with their studies after all the disruption they have faced, so we designed a SummerPod programme to help students boost their confidence ahead of the autumn term starting.  We ran student sessions on topics such as ‘How to stop being busy and start being productive’ and parent sessions on subjects like ‘The science behind effective learning.”

We anticipated a certain level of uptake but what we did not foresee was the huge reaction our offering would get from parents.  It is clear to us that having had to take on direct responsibility for making sure their children kept up with their studies, parents remain heavily invested in their education. 

Our SummerPodpage on our website was viewed over 18,000 times between the start of June and the end of August and our GCSEPod Twitter profile got more visits over the summer months than when schools were in session!  It’s clear that parents are not simply washing their hands of responsibility for their children’s progress just because schools are returning to somewhat normal service.  Before the pandemic, many parents were content for teachers to be fully accountable for their child’s education but now having been so heavily involved, they clearly still feel that they need to be a central part of it.

The impact on parents from being thrown in home educating has largely been forgotten.  There was rightly a focus on how this affected children and more widely there was a lot of discussion about how schools and teachers delivered their services remotely.  However, the fact that parents were just made to wade in and figure out how to be the bridge between their offspring and their education has largely been overlooked.

Parents who were used to receiving a report, a few grades and popping over for parents evening once a year, safe in the knowledge that professionals were handling things, are now embedded in their children’s educational journey in a way they never were before, and they don’t seem to feel that they can just remove themselves.

There has been a lot of commentary around the idea that parents are now more appreciative of teachers and the job they do.  However, going forward it seems like teachers may also need to adjust to parents being more involved in their children’s education.   They have more understanding of how it works on the ground now and they may have more comments and questions than they did previously.

It’s a good thing that parents are keen to be more involved in their children’s education as getting parents engaged in their child’s education is one of the most powerful factors for improving outcomes.   It could have been the case that, given the option to abdicate their responsibility to their learning that parents happily took it.  However, the information we received from our SummerPod  programme shows this is not the case.  School was certainly not out for summer and it seems that parent’s closer connectionin their children’s education is here to stay.

Emma Slater, Director of Education, GCSEPod

Emma spent over ten years as a high performing Lead Teacher and Head of English in London, she was also an English Consultant for The Tauheedal Trust (now Star) and The PiXL Club.  Emma has had her work on Key Stage 3 English published by Harper Collins and also spent some time at the BBC and think tank Policy Exchange. 

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