Leading Article: Luring Parents Past the School Gates

The Independent (London, England), January 9, 1996 | Go to article overview
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Leading Article: Luring Parents Past the School Gates


Contracts between parents and schools are a good idea. Advocated by both Conservative and Labour politicians in the past, and implemented with great success in Birmingham already, they are an effective way of drawing parents into their children's education. After John Major signalled an interest in parental contracts at the weekend, the proposal was hastily tacked on to the launch yesterday of new government proposals on selection in schools. But while the proposed changes to school admissions could be extremely damaging, divisive and discriminatory, the home-school contracts could make a real difference to improving education standards across the board.

The old days when parents rarely ventured farther than the school gate are long gone. Education is no longer the prerogative of the professional teacher. Children can learn much after the school bell rings at a quarter to four. A supportive, enthusiastic mum or dad who helps with homework can make a considerable difference to a child's progress. Meanwhile, the regular exchange of information between parents and teachers can help to avoid misunderstandings about the problems that individual children face. So keen, concerned parents are often welcomed into the classroom, rather than dismissed as pushy or interfering.

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