Academic journal article School Community Journal

Present and Future Home-School Relations in Cyprus: An Investigation of Teachers' and Parents' Perspectives

Academic journal article School Community Journal

Present and Future Home-School Relations in Cyprus: An Investigation of Teachers' and Parents' Perspectives

Article excerpt

Abstract

Home-school liaisons in Cyprus have not yet been systematically studied. This paper presents the main findings of a nation-wide questionnaire survey, which investigated the issue among teachers and families in Cyprus primary state schools. Teachers' and families' perspectives on how these relationships are currently implemented are identified, as well as their views on whether, and if so how, these liaisons need to be transformed.

Data analysis revealed that both teachers and families consider that present home-school links in Cyprus are restricted. At the same time, they express a need to modify their relationships, even though their suggestions still imply mild modes of family involvement and not broader levels of participation. More specifically, both consent to the usefulness of providing families with more information on general educational and pedagogical issues, as well as to the opening of the classroom and the school to families in order to provide them with first-hand experience of the work done behind school doors. Families set as their initial priority receiving immediate and direct information about their own child; teachers, however, did not consider this a high priority. The analysis also indicated that the nature and the extent of family-school liaisons in Cyprus primary schools might differentiate according to a number of external variables, relating to both the school context and certain demographic characteristics of teachers and families. The findings are discussed within the current context of vivid surge within the Cyprus educational system toward the introduction of relevant innovation and change.

Introduction

During the last few decades in many educational systems, a high degree of attention has been drawn to the relationships between schools and their environments, particularly the pupils' homes. Theorists, researchers, and practitioners portray this relationship as a significant determinant of the quality of education provided, thus asserting the value of family and school not only being in agreement, but also establishing strong, positive, communicative relationships between them in order to collaborate. Correspondingly, lively efforts are currently directed to bring the two agents closer by opening the school to pupils' families and by improving homeschool contacts and relationships. Hence, families are considered more than ever before-at least at a broad theoretical level-as having the right to be involved in school enterprises.

The main factor that contributed to this shift was the recognition in the mid- 1960s that a child's in-school attainment is likely to depend on the social, cultural, and learning experiences of the child's home background forming his or her attitudes and aspirations (Bernstein, 1975; Bloom, 1982; Bourdieu & Passeron, 1990; Davies, 1991), which has been called the "curriculum of the home" (Coleman, 1998). As Bloom (1982) indicated after reviewing both separate national studies of education in seven countries as well as international studies involving twenty-two nations, the home environment is the most powerful factor in determining the level of a child's school achievement by accounting for more of the student variation in learning than other factors, including the school curriculum, the quality of instruction in schools, the differences among teachers, and the differences among schools. Schooling is thus viewed as providing educational opportunities and achieving its aims only insofar as what it offers builds on, and directly engages with, the fundamental education and "curriculum" which the child experiences at home.

Many changes in the broader international historical, political, and economical context have also contributed to this opening of the school to families. The establishment of democracy, the accountability movement, the notion of equal opportunity, the decentralization/devolution trend and the debate regarding the issue of responsibility in educating children, have all been cited as underpinning the surge for opening school doors to families (Bourmina, 1995; Davies & Johnson, 1996; Jowett, Baginsky, & McNeil, 1991; Knight, 1995; O'Connor, 1994; Tomlinson, 1991; Turney, Eltis, Towler, & Wright, 1990). …

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