Suffolk: Parents need to take greater role in education – expert

PARENTS need to work more with their children to encourage them with school work – that’s the key message that is set to come across at a major education conference in Suffolk today.

The second Raising the Bar conference at Trinity Park on the edge of Ipswich will hear from Kevan Collins, chief executive of the Education Endowment Foundation (EEF), about the important role parents have in the education of their children.

He will stress that everyday activities like reading to children and talking to them has a vital role in improving their educational attainment.

More than 250 primary school teachers, heads and education professionals will be at today’s conference which will also be addressed by Matthew Taylor, who agreed to lead a new commission looking at increasing Suffolk students’ attainment after delivering the keynote speech at the first Raising the Bar conference earlier this year.

Mr Collins will be concentrating on the importance of early years education to set youngsters on the right path towards educational excellence.

He will point to research conducted across the country which shows that parents talking to their children, spending time enhancing their self-esteem and monitoring out of school activities such as homework are all “constantly associated with improving pupil outcomes.”

Speaking before the conference, he said: “It’s terrific that Suffolk is focusing on the vital role parents play to support children’s education. The evidence is clear – when parents are engaged and involved children learn more. Regular family conversations about school and learning pay off and are a great investment in every child’s education.”

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The EEF is a national charity which aims to invest �200 million over the next 15 years in programmes that improve educational achievement. It is hoped that through Raising the Bar, Suffolk will be in a position to bid for funding to benefit the county.

Mr Taylor said: “Since we launched the Raising the Bar programme, we’ve engaging in a positive dialogue with people from across Suffolk - all of whom share our ambition to improve educational attainment.

“It is becoming increasing clear that schools working together and supporting each other and engaging parents and the wider community are essential in helping us to achieve our goals.

“But we’re still eagerly seeking ideas. We’re not conducting a typical inquiry where a group of people are set a challenge, lock themselves away and come up with a plan in isolation.

“We’ve developed a range of groups and are consulting as widely as possible in order to learn from the best practice that’s already out there.”

Graham Newman, Suffolk County Council’s cabinet member responsible for education and young people, said: “Today we are fortunate to have with us national and local leaders in the field of education, all coming together with a common goal – to improve educational attainment in Suffolk.

“Increasingly we are realising that children’s and young people’s life chances are linked to their experiences in the earliest months and years of their lives.

“Everyone who has contact with children has an impact - especially parents - which is why we’re focusing on their role today.

“Results in Suffolk are improving year on year but the fact remains that young people in our county are outperformed by their peers nationally. That is something that we all have a moral and professional responsibility to change.”

Recent figures suggest that results for children in Suffolk in the key subjects of reading, writing, maths and science are similar to the national average in key stages one to three (ages seven to 14) but figures for the number of students achieving five A*-C grades at GCSE (including English and Maths) at 16 are considerably below the national average.

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