6.4 Parent cooperation

Parents’ attitudes towards school have a major impact on how children cope with school. When parents take an interest in how their children are doing at school, the children are more likely to both enjoy school and achieve good learning outcomes (Nordahl 2007).

Involved parents lead to better well-being and learning outcomes

By and large, today’s pupils experience that they get good support at home. As many as 86 per cent of Year 7 pupils have parents who “always” or “often” show an interest in what they do in school. A similar percentage have parents who “always” or “often” encourage them in their schoolwork. Parents’ interest in their children’s schoolwork diminishes somewhat with age. In Year 10, 75 per cent of pupils have parents who “always” or “often” show an interest in what they are doing at school. Just as many have parents who “always” or “often” encourage them in their schoolwork (unpublished findings from the Pupil Survey 2015).

Pupils with supportive parents are happier and achieve better learning outcomes (Desforges 2003, Nordahl 2007, Hattie 2009). The parents are the pupils’ most important source of support, and they are in a position to motivate, encourage and give their children a positive attitude to school and learning (Haugsbakken and Bruland 2009). When parents speak in positive terms about school and learning it promotes the child’s learning (Nordahl 2007).

The home environment is of particularly great significance in the first few years of school

For children aged seven, the parents are far more important to their learning outcomes than what happens at school. By the age of 16, however, it appears that the school’s contribution has become more significant to learning outcomes than in the early years (Desforges 2003). It has also transpired that gender, the parents’ education and minority status have less of an impact on pupils in schools where the pupils find the learning environment to be positive (Bakken 2010).

The importance of getting support from the school

Some pupils experience difficulties at home. Some reasons may be social and financial problems, or parents with mental health issues or addiction problems. The school and good relationships with teachers and fellow pupils are important to these children. A teacher or another adult who cares, shows attention and interest can make a big difference to a child’s education (Seeberg et al. 2013).