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Last Updated: Wednesday, 17 September, 2003, 01:10 GMT 02:10 UK
Parents face barrier to schools
Inner-city parents say they want more involvement in schools
Parents in inner-city areas need more support in getting involved with their children's education, a survey says.

Researchers found many parents lacked an understanding of how the school system works.

The study of 60 families in Leeds found they had minimal contact with schools.

Poor language and basic skills often hindered parents' involvement.

Despite having underachieved at school themselves, the mothers and fathers wanted their children to do better.

And they recognised that their attitudes towards learning and education had a major influence on the performance of their offspring.

But they said they needed greater support to ensure their children did well at school.

I would like it if the schools explained to me more how I could be helping my children
Monica, single parent
The report - by the community regeneration charity Learning Partnerships - was based on interviews with 61 families living in Chapeltown, Harehills and Burmantofts - three of Leeds' most deprived wards.

Rosie Kearton, Learning Partnerships' head of projects, said: "A child's education is not just down to the school.

"Parents have a big role to play but they need to be supported in order to do this."

Parents' concerns

Monica - one of the parents involved in the study - said she did not want her children to follow in her footsteps by leaving school at a young age without any qualifications.

The single mother of three helps her children with their homework, but feels hindered by her lack of understanding.

"I don't understand the education system as much as I should," said Monica.

"The teachers at two of the schools are really helpful but at the other one they just don't listen to you. I find it very frustrating."

Monica would be keen to take an active role in school life, but lacks the confidence to do so.

"I would like it if the schools explained to me more how I could be helping my children. I would like more links with the schools.

"If the schools invited me to go and help I would. But I don't feel confident enough to just pop in. I might get in the way."

Heads fight apathy

The Secondary Heads Association said head teachers would welcome greater involvement from parents on a formal or informal basis.

"The difficulty is finding a mechanism for that to happen," said assistant general secretary Bob Carstairs.

"Heads go to the trouble of organising parent evenings, but often report that only half a dozen turn up.

"It would be useful if governors and parent teacher associations could pursue this further to ensure better representation of parents."

Students' parents offered support
16 Sep 03  |  Education
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13 Sep 03  |  Education

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