The most important reason to promote parental involvement in their children’s education is because it helps children to thrive. We have been speaking to parents, teachers and other professionals who all recognise the huge impact that having parents working with the school as part of the school community makes to the children. As one teacher said “confident individuals, guaranteed!”
However we haven’t done much work listening to the children’s point of view. As part of the film we made with the wonderful students from City of Glasgow College’s television department we wanted to speak to children and hear their voices too. We were lucky enough to be able to speak to two groups of children from Golfhill Primary and St Albert’s Primary. I think we found some future film stars and got some lovely footage of the children’s faces lighting up when they talked about how their parents got involved.
In Golfhill children from the Learning Together club (run by the EAL teacher Marilyn Gordon- see http://gatheredtogether.bemis.org.uk/?p=663) spoke about how they felt about their parents coming in to school. One young boy, whose older brother attends the group told us about a time when they acted out a play with puppets and then he and his brother read a story together “and the class stopped but I wanted to go on reading forever”. My favourite moment was when a girl was asked how she felt when her mum came into school said “I feel GENIUS!” (a word she had just learned in learning club).
The children we interviewed at St Albert’s were a mix of children whose parents were in the Parent Council, came to St Albert’s learning club or were involved in the bilingual story telling (to see some of the mothers from the story telling group go to http://gatheredtogether.bemis.org.uk/?p=854). The children spoke about feeling proud that their parents and that it showed them their parents cared and took an interest in them.
It was great to be able to capture the positive stories and experience of children but we know that this isn’t the case for every child. After speaking to parents with the Rainbow Muslim Women’s group, who had some difficult experiences getting involved in their children’s education (go to http://gatheredtogether.bemis.org.uk/?p=878 to see Samina and Tasneem talking about their experiences). They suggested that we could also speak to children from within the Rainbow women’s group and we met with Niem and Nailah to hear their story.
Nailah said that she felt quite uncomfortable about her mother coming into school because English wasn’t her first language and she was worried what the teachers would think. She also talked about not wanting her parents to be involved and throwing letters from school in the bin. It can be really difficult for families who are new to Scotland (and parents who are new to English) to become involved in the school community and the dynamics between children and their parents can change because of the language barrier. Niem, Nailah’s younger brother, spoke about the difference that it made when his parents became involved after he was being bullied at school. He felt that the teachers listened to his parents more and also that when they do get involved it showed that they cared about him and how he was getting on at school. We made a podcast of their conversation- to hear Nailah and Niem just go to http://gatheredtogether.bemis.org.uk/?p=878