Drawing parents into the education debate

In Uncategorized on January 6, 2010 by Tessa Stone Tagged: ,

the_archers_radio_4_programme One of the many good things about the Christmas break this year was that it allowed me effortlessly to mix work with a guilty pleasure – catching up with the Archers.

Those who are not already devotees of Radio 4’s ‘everyday story of country people’ and the longest running soap opera in the world are advised to steer clear.

As those of us who imbibed it at our mother’s apron strings know, passive listening in the early years can lead to a life-long addiction. It doesn’t happen that often, but the Archers are running an education-related story line.

Pip Archer, who aims ultimately to take over the family farm, had started her A levels at the local 6th form college, but decided after the first term that she wanted to call it quits. Cue heated argument between Dad (‘You’re throwing your future away and anyway, you’ll be much more use to us with A levels’) and daughter (‘No I won’t and anyway, I’ve made up my mind and I know what’s best for me…’)

In true soap opera style, this one is bound to run and run, although early indications suggest that A levels will win out – this is Radio 4 after all! However, what’s most interesting about the storyline is the role of the parent in guiding and supporting their (often very unwilling) child.

At BrightsideUNIAID we’re currently struggling with the conundrum of how to engage and inform parents in the ‘Information, Advice and Guidance’ process.

Adequately and effectively supporting parents is really hard to do – not least because those whose positive input, or just engagement, would most benefit their children are often the hardest to reach by third parties such as ourselves. Plus, there’s the problem of ensuring that in the process of reaching out to parents we don’t alienate the young people who are our main focus, and for some of whom the impartial support of an adult mentor, who is not their parent, teacher, or any other authority figure, can be the major benefit of ementoring support such as ours.

The primary importance of parental influence (and especially maternal influence) in educational attainment cannot be overlooked, however. So, difficult though it is, this is one circle we have to try and square. I’m hoping the Archers may come up with some interesting suggestions. Gives me an excuse to keep listening ‘for work purposes’, at least…

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