Parental engagement in children’s education is critical. Research has shown that around 80% of the difference in how well children do at school is dependent on what happens outside the school gates (Rabash et al, 2010 and Save the Children, 2013).
As parents, we all know what’s involved in supporting our children through their school years. Whether this is helping young children learn to read, ensuring homework is done, talking about aspirations, providing guidance and moral support, enabling after-school activities, and making sure our children have new experiences and the chance to learn new skills; it’s a significant investment of our time, energy and finances.
As we strive to provide our children with all of this support, it’s likely that we often take the essentials for granted. Many of us may not even register that, for many families, ensuring children are fed, warm, rested with the uniform and materials they need for school is a real enduring struggle.
Poverty creates a tremendous barrier to learning. When families are struggling with insecure housing; when food poverty is a reality; and when parents have been let down by education themselves, it’s vital we break the cycle of disadvantage – and parents, as well as our schools, are the key to this.
Here’s an alarming statistic that certainly caught my attention: a joint report from the Ministry of Justice and Department for Education has demonstrated that the majority of offenders aged 16 and 17 have previously had a record of being persistently absent from school. This ranges from 78% for cautions to 94% for custodial sentences.
It’s in all of our interests to ensure vulnerable children are, as we say in SHS, “in school and ready to learn”. Our approach is to work holistically with the whole family, supporting parents and raising family aspirations.
Working in partnership with business means we can offer unique experiences to children and parents. Last week with London Stock Exchange Group (one of our key corporate partnerships), we trialled “Insights Into Work” – a new intervention exclusively for parents. A group of Mums from one of our schools in north London spent the morning shadowing employees working in events and property. Head of Europe, Primary Markets Ayuna Nechaeva welcomed the Mums and gave an inspirational talk. Volunteers from the Events Team, Property and supported the group throughout the morning.
“It was really nice and encouraging to be at the London Stock Exchange, I had a wonderful experience with the staff and I got to understand more about how to keep pushing, even when something is tough for you. All the real-life experience the staff told us about got me motivated to believe in myself.” – Mum of two boys
“I have really enjoyed coming to the Stock Exchange, it has given me an opportunity to widen my horizons with my own job search.” – Mum of one girl
“I was surprised to have met people who went to normal schools, who had similar backgrounds to me. There are loads of people who work here who didn’t go to university. I’m talking to my children about how inspirational today was, and I really believe they can work somewhere like this if they want to.” – Laura, Mum of two (girl and boy)
When we get reactions like this from parents, we’re motivated to do more. Thanks to the wonderful staff who volunteered at London Stock Exchange Group on the first ‘Insights Into Work’ morning. Your time and contribution genuinely made a real difference, from developing the parents’ outlook, informing the content of conversations they have with their children about future employment, and showing them that ‘normal’ people work in city firms.
We don’t know whether a corporate career is something these parents’ children will aspire to… but the importance of education and understanding the impact of their involvement on their children’s learning has definitely increased.
Thank you to the following LSEG staff for volunteering:
Carlos De Caires