‘The behaviour of the couple “went well beyond the realms of even the most zealous, some might say pushy, parents” and became an “enduring nightmare” for the Hall School Wimbledon, said Judge Jeremy Richardson’,
according to a news report of a clash between school and parents that recently ended up in court. It was an extreme case – but parents often do get involved and schools have to respond.
Dr Rosemary Russell, Voice member, education consultant, author and training provider, has written an article, “Managing parental involvement and expectations with maths”, for the forthcoming November 2013 issue of Your Voice, the Voice members’ magazine, on this issue.
In the article, she comments that:
“Historically, schools have been reluctant to engage with parents. Parents who get involved have tended to be labelled as ‘pushy’ and not much thought is given to their motives. As always, however, the pinnacle of best practice is to start where people are, and we have to try to understand what motivates parents to take the initiative to get involved.
“Before I began, three main reasons had been put forward for why parents take it into their own hands to help their children with maths:
- parents thought schools were not doing it properly;
- parents felt schools would not listen to them; and
- ‘middle class’ parents were preparing their children for a future career.
“However, these conclusions came from studies where the initiative and the activities originated from the school or the research team. This provided only very partial illumination, at best, of what happens when parents take the initiative.
“My research was the first to look at what the parents were already doing and what happens when parents take the initiative, without prompting from school.”
- ‘Saviour Attitude’: parents (not necessarily those who are weak at maths) who at some stage had had a bad experience of maths and wanted to rescue their child from a similar experience;
- ‘The Provider of Maths Knowledge’; and
- ‘The Anticipator’.
In understanding parental motivations, schools and policy makers can then put in place strategies to manage parental expectations.