Monday, September 20, 1999 Published at 11:14 GMT 12:14 UK
Sharing homework benefits parents
Ministers are keen to encourage parental involvement
A scheme that gets parents to share in primary school children's homework has been praised for the way it can get them back into education.
The scheme, Share (Key Stage 2) - aimed at seven to 11-year-olds - was developed by the education charity Community Education Development Centre to help primary schools in England develop homework strategies, which they are now required to have.
Dr Ann Lewis, from the University of Warwick's Institute of Education, says the scheme can motivate children to do their homework and can bring parents more in touch with schools.
In her assessment of the scheme Dr Lewis says it has inspired some parents to seek out other learning opportunities for themselves.
"Some Share parents began community or adult education classes such as first aid, computer skills and library courses and have gained confidence through Share work," she said.
The Share activity books, which teachers use to work with parents and children, develop children's reading, writing and maths skills. They link to the National Curriculum and the government's frameworks for literacy and numeracy.
Parents and children use the books at home and parents meet teachers to discuss their children's progress and develop their skills.
"Teachers are under pressure to improve Key Stage 2 results," said the Community Education Development Centre's project manager, Lisa Capper.
"Involving parents contributes to pupil progress and helps develop a positive attitude to learning. It helps parents by offering shared learning in group sessions each week."
The scheme builds on a more-established project for infants, which began a couple of years ago. One of the schools that pioneered it, and is now piloting the scheme for older pupils, is Annesley Primary in Nottingham.
The headteacher, Gregg Abbott, said the charity had begun by targeting small groups of children who they thought might benefit most - 15 first years, for instance.
"But there was so much demand from our parents that we have extended it to the whole of Key Stage 1, although not so intensively," he said.
A homework project is set, to be completed within two weeks. The results are used in class teaching.
Inevitably there are parents - as in most schools - who do not take any interest. But the class work is shared between those children who have had parental help and those who have not, so no-one feels disadvantaged.