Suffolk: Parental support vital as county looks at Raising the Bar for students

PARENTS should take an interest in their children’s schoolwork – but don’t need to be an expert in the field to make a difference.

That was the message from keynote speaker Kevan Collins at the second “Raising the Bar” conference hosted by Suffolk County Council at Trinity Park.

Mr Collins is chief executive of the Education Endowment Foundation (EEF) which was set up to invest up to �200million in educational projects over the next 15 years.

It aims to help boost the achievements of youngsters at a disadvantage, especially those who are entitled to free school meals.

Mr Collins told an audience of 250 teachers, council officials and other professionals that parents and schools needed to work together to improve youngsters’ performance.

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He said the most important thing parents could do was to take an interest in their children’s work and to give them encouragement. “You don’t need a degree in physics and to do their homework for them. What is needed is for parents to take an interest in what their children are doing at school and to encourage them in their work.

“Just talk to your children about what they’ve been doing at school, and have a dialogue with the school to see how you can help – that’s the most important thing.”

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Mr Collins was concerned that some schools had been too concerned with structures rather than how children were taught – although having a number of different models such as academies, trust schools, free schools and schools run by local authorities did allow a level of diversity to develop.

And he had a warning that schools could face tough financial times in the years ahead.

He said: “I don’t think the full impact of austerity has hit the schools sector yet. I think there is more austerity ahead.”

Mr Collins was followed at the conference by Matthew Taylor from the Royal Society of the Arts who is leading a commission looking at improving educational achievement for young people in Suffolk.

He told the conference that his commission was expected to complete its report in May next year.

But there had already been a positive response from schools and having had discussions with contributors he was hopeful that many of the recommendations would already have been put into practice by the time it is published.

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