The Parental Engagement debate is usually dominated by polarised opinions on both sides, based on anecdotal evidence often derived from negative experiences. There is a need to rise above this.
Common-sense tells us that the vast majority of teachers and parents are rational, kind, caring people. It is on this basis that we should start.
It is vital that all communication with parents reflects the belief that all parents want the best for their children. Many parents will have had a very different experience of school as pupils than the vast majority of teachers will have had – there are very few teachers who have chosen their profession because they hated school. We should ensure that our communications and behaviour never reinforce these negative attitudes.
Children don’t come with a manual. Getting it right as a parent is stressful and many of us struggle, especially when we feel that situations are beyond our control. We all want to protect our children. Sometimes, when there is a problem, parents can get defensive and approach school in an aggressive manner. This is very unpleasant for all concerned. As school leaders we need to ensure that all professionals are equipped to handle such matters in a way that takes the hostility out of the situation and allows for a mature dialogue to take place to resolve the issue.