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Support Of Parents Essential


17 September 2008
For Immediate Use

Support Of Parents Essential In Raising Student Achievement

The New Zealand Parent Teacher Association (NZPTA) welcomes the findings of the Education Review Office report on School’s Provision For Students At Risk of Not Achieving that recommends that school principals and senior leaders involve parents and whānau in supporting their children and reinforcing the work done at school.

“The fact that supportive parents and whānau improve educational outcomes for students is not a new revelation, but it is one that school leaders sometimes seem to overlook or put in the ‘too hard’ basket,” says NZPTA President Amanda Meldon.

PTAs and other parent-led support groups in schools have been actively encouraging greater family involvement in New Zealand schools for over 100 years. While PTAs have traditionally been valued only for their ability to raise some extra dollars for projects like the library or playground upgrade, the New Zealand Parent Teacher Association believes that the benefits of a supportive parent community go far beyond fundraising.

Amanda Meldon says “While it is easy for schools and educationists to focus on the ‘student learning’ aspect of family involvement, our grass-roots experience suggests that a broader approach is needed to connect with the ‘hard to reach’ families.” This is supported by the research of Joyce L. Epstein that outlines five other important areas that schools need to consider if they are to be successful in connecting with families. These are communication, volunteering, parenting, decision-making and community collaboration.

“By bringing parents and whānau into the school as volunteers, the PTA often ‘opens the door’ to the school for many families who would not otherwise have a reason or opportunity to be there,” says Amanda Meldon.

The New Zealand Parent Teacher Association has developed the ‘Give Me Five’ programme to help schools welcome parents and whānau as volunteers by asking them to give five hours of their time each year for specific tasks. Schools using ‘Give Me Five’ found that many people who had never been into the school before came in to volunteer and then kept on returning. “Because the experience was positive, the volunteers just kept coming back. Many people exceeded their 5 hours and some went on to clock up hundreds of volunteer hours for the school,” says Pam Lee of Kaimai School PTA.

Research shows that, regardless of their circumstances, most parents want to support their child’s learning and development as much as they can. The New Zealand Parent Teacher Association encourages school leaders to take up the challenge of removing barriers to family involvement in New Zealand schools so that all families are empowered to support their child’s education.


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