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Concept and Materials – involve parents, improve school.

The Involve Parents, Improve school toolkit provides practical solutions to teachers on how to improve parent involvement in school activities.

Toolkits and tools
Coordinator: The Lower Saxony State Institute for Quality Development in Schools (NLQ) (DE). Partners: NILS (DE) Academie de Rouen (FR) ODN (PL) Department of Educational and Social Services, East Ayrshire (UK) Junta de Castilla y Leon, Valladolid (ES) German – Turkish School TAKEV (TR) State Institute for Pedagogical and Further Education (RU) The Danish School of Education, Aarhus University (DK) Mary, Mother of Hope national school (IE) Regional directorate of Education Coimbra/ Oporto (PT)

The project started in 2007

Practitioners and parents

Guidance on what works (to help improve the design of policies and practices)

The tool is a collection of materials developed throughout the project which can be used to implement specific programmes. The project’s aim was to promote parental involvement in school life.

There is a specific tool for each programme and each tool is divided into different sections:

  • Networking - the objective of this project is to explain how the different agents that participate in the education system can create networks to improve the quality of the education process in demographic areas where there is a high multi-cultural concentration:
    • Reasons for networking - this describes the importance of networking, its added value and any issues that may arise.
    • Training course network management - a template for a training course aimed at empowering teachers to create and manage networks. The course is divided in to 9 sessions which comprehensively cover all steps of setting up and successfully managing a network. There is also additional material to be used throughout the course, such as questionnaires, assessment and evaluation forms and warm-up exercises among others.
    • Reach out to the parents and involve them – case studies and one exemplary project to help illustrate networking and its management and how to involve parents.
    • Creating networks to improve education in a district of Valladolid – description of a specific project to illustrate how the different agents that participate in the education system (families, teachers, educational services, etc.) and live in a specific district can create networks to improve the quality of the education process in demographic areas where there is a high multi-cultural concentration.
  • Teaching tolerance - this module aims at qualifying teachers to deal with foreign cultures and their specific features in a sensitive and goal oriented way:
    • Activating teachers with a background of immigration - this box contains modules for teacher education or training courses which are intended to promote an awareness of the intercultural sensibility. There are also model interviews.
    • Tolerance, shall we teach it? – Practical activities to teach tolerance in schools.
    • What makes you a foreigner? - A course for teachers in fostering co-operation with migrant parents.
    • Meeting parents – a series of practical sessions through which teachers are intended to learn and develop different aspects and forms of partnership in education and upbringing and to acquire a qualification to conduct a successful partnership oriented dialogue with parents.
    • Are we tolerant? – A series of practical sessions which can be used as a basis by teachers to teach tolerance.
    • Practical activities that promote family involvement in school - 5 modules through which education staff can train to become more sensitive towards the need to reduce the gap between the school and the families, with special attention to those of immigrant origin or cultural minorities.
  • Collaborating with Parents - a training activity to assist members of the education community bridge the gap between the school and the families:
    • How to develop a master plan for an information and communication set-up in school - Two checklists which can help to structure the internal discussion/decision process in school:
      • Checklist one, ‘Developing home–school–partnerships – Points to consider’. This is divided into general and specific points to be considered:
        • General: ‘does the school provide parents with a range of opportunities to have a genuine say in, and be an active part of, its life and work?’
        • Specific: ‘have information-sharing events, e.g. curriculum evenings, been evaluated? Do parents find them helpful? How do you know?’
      • Checklist two, ‘Involving parents in schools with a multi-cultural environment’: this is divided into 7 sub-headings dealing with different aspects of parent-teacher interaction. One example of a sub-heading is ‘multilingualism in the school’ under which one option to choose from is ‘Are there staff members who can interpret and mediate?’
    • Setting targets – tips on how to share information with parents via internet/newsletters.
    • Case studies – 5 case studies which illustrate different ways in which parents have been involved and informed by the school about its activities. Some case studies also include materials used for the stakeholders, such as role plays.
    • Parents’ Day at Pablo Picasso Saint Etienne du Rouvray – an example of how parents are   engaged at this particular institute.
    • Four seasons for co-operation – a module on how to develop teacher-parent cooperation. There are 4 units focusing on:
      • help for the parents
      • society-friendly schools
      • multiculturalism in school
      • children’s health

There is also an evaluation template.

  • Parents as partners – Seven workshop templates designed to involve parents in school events. The project was aimed at teachers and also includes information surrounding the relationship between teachers and parents (e.g. legal regulations). There is also an evaluation template.
  • How to build the bridge - the modules in this toolbox serve to support the cooperation between school and parents, and offer a whole range of methods for use during In Service Education and Training (INSET)[1].
    • Empowering parents – role play, tips and references to sources on how to foster a parent-student relationship at home (assisting with homework).
    • Parents as learning aides homework assistance - this module aims at looking at ways teachers can ensure parents understand how to support their children’s homework in a context of bilingualism or poor spoken/ written English on the parents’ part. The tool contains 5 interactive sessions which focus on the barriers to parental involvement and how parents can help. There is also an evaluation template through which the teachers can assess the course. There are also flyers which focus on specific skills (literacy, numeracy, etc.) which can be downloaded in many languages (Arabic, Cantonese and Urdu among others).
    • Bilingual story bags – 4 workshops/activities aimed at staff teaching children who are studying in a country/language different from their own. They are to be implemented with the students themselves. There’s also an evaluation template.
    • ‘Sprachbox’ – a method for working on literacy and creating an encouraging atmosphere for language use and practice. Divided into 4 activities involving both parents and children.
    • ‘Parents´ guides’: a module for a qualification programme to involve parents from an immigrant background – a concept guide to develop training for parent guides, to help immigrant parents to reflect on their experiences and to gain further knowledge about education.
    • Student Portfolio, a ‘bridge’ between school and family – a practical guide divided into 3 sessions on how to create portfolios for students which can be used at home as well.
  • A criterion catalogue for evaluation (1 page appendix) for teachers. It includes criterion such as ‘in the beginning: put up criteria by collecting your expectations’.
  • Guide to formative evaluation (1 page appendix) for teachers. Examples of items:set priorities; be clear in your objectives’, ‘central issues with regard to the object of evaluation - 'are we doing the right thing?' (Fitness for purpose)’
 

[1] Ongoing training for teachers.

The toolkit provides practical solutions to teachers on how to improve parental involvement in school activities. An example of this is the ‘parents’ day’ solution. This is a practical example of engaging parents based on the experience of a school in Rouen. It provides a timetable for the day and a description of activities. Another example is a training course in network management aimed at teachers and coordinators. The course aims at explaining how a network of diverse actors can improve the quality of education at a given school.

Developed by the partner