Among the world's leading education experts, Harvard University professor Karen Mapp says Australian teachers and parents must work together as partners to boost the nation's flagging academic results.
The former deputy superintendent at Boston Public Schools said more than 50 years of research in the US showed frequent teacher-family communications improved student behaviour, attendance rates, homework completion and academic performance.
Dr Mapp, who is in Australia this week for talks with school principals, is a strong advocate of shared responsibility for a child's education - a key recommendation of the recent Gonski 2.0 report into educational disadvantage.
She says the onus, in the first instance, is on teachers and principals to better engage with parents.
School staff should be able to talk to parents "with the right tone and approach" about issues at home, including why children are coming to school without having eaten breakfast or appear tired from a lack of sleep.
"We need educators to understand that we're not going to be able to develop students to their full potential without their families," she said.
"In many cases, families have been very intimidated by schools.
"Many have had bad experiences themselves or don't understand the language. The staff really have to understand that they have to take the first step to invite families to be engaged." Dr Mapp said family engagement often dropped off during a student's high school years, but this was a mistake.
"I've interviewed a lot of teenagers who say to me that engagement with their families is more important as they get older," she said.
"Unfortunately some secondary schools create a culture and a climate that makes it more difficult for families." In an Australian first, Dr Mapp this week ran a workshop with 13 Perth schools - some with a high number of students from disadvantaged backgrounds - to help improve school-family partnerships.
Dianella Secondary College's principal Wayne Austin said the workshop, which was run in partnership with charities The Smith Family and the Fogarty Foundation, would benefit his role as the head of a school with a high number of students from nonEnglish speaking families.
From:The Australian, Australia by Andrew Burrell15 Jun 2018
|Tags: curriculum Catholic Parents Australia|