Families seek schools help for parenting

RECORD numbers of families across Suffolk are seeking help in improving their parenting skills, it has been revealed.The National Association of Headteachers said last night that more parents than ever before are turning to schools for advice and guidance on how to become further involved in their child's life.

RECORD numbers of families across Suffolk are seeking help in improving their parenting skills, it has been revealed.

The National Association of Headteachers said last night that more parents than ever before are turning to schools for advice and guidance on how to become further involved in their child's life.

And despite risking accusations of “force feeding” parents with ideas on how to raise their children, a rising number of schools throughout the county are offering advice on running a family, from what to cook for dinner, to how much time youngsters should spend watching television.

Geoff Barton, headteacher at King Edward Upper School in Bury St Edmunds, has been holding workshops for parents for the past two years.


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“Some people think they don't need to be as involved in their child's life when he or she is an adolescent, but we know that, even with students like ours who are aged 14 to 19, parents can still have a big impact on their future,” he said.

“We have always tried to spread good advice, and the feedback has always been positive. As parents, it is about finding out how we can help our children be successful, and we have simply said 'take this advice if you want to'.

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“We don't want to patronise anyone, but on the whole people are usually very grateful to have a support network in place.”

Mr Barton, who is himself a father-of-two, said the school has recently stepped up its efforts in offering advice to parents, and has organised a series of events to coincide with National Family Week, from October 7 to 13.

Parents will have the opportunity to take part in a wide range workshops, covering anything from helping them to understand why teenagers give them grief, looking at ways of supporting their children, and even learning how to cook healthy meals.

“There is always going to be a lingering concern by teachers of being seen to be preaching to parents, but we are trying to turn that notion on its head,” said Mr Barton, who recently backed calls for a national debate into childhood in the 21st Century.

“We are not preaching, but a lot of people just want to know how to be a better parent and it is all about trying to get young people ready for the world.”

Chris Harrison, council member for the National Association of Headteachers in Norfolk, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire, said King Edward Upper is just one school trying to “up-skill” parents.

“More and more parents are seeking advice, and schools in Suffolk have been very, very good in responding to this,” he said.

“Schools, like most services, provide information, and it is then up to the parent whether they want to take that information or not, and what they do with it.

“It is up to each parent to determine how they carry out their parenting - all we can do is give guidance to those who want it.

“I have never known a time when parents have been more keen to get involved in helping out at school, and people are taking much more of an interest in their children's education.”

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