Research theme

How can education professionals work constructively with parents? It might seem an obvious question, but it receives too little consideration in practice.

Ask a teacher, a school administrator, an internal supervisor or a care coordinator whether cooperation with parents is important for pupil development, and most will say 'Yes'. The value of good cooperation between teachers and parents is also underlined by various publications, including Leraren en ouderbetrokkenheid (Teachers and parental involvement; Bakker et al., 2013). Nevertheless, it is apparent from other research that many primary and secondary teacher training programmes pay little or no attention to this theme.

Research by the Human Movement and Education Research Centre

Research by members of the Human Movement and Education Research Centre has demonstrated that cooperation with parents is not adequately covered by Dutch and Flemish primary, secondary and intermediate vocational teacher training programmes. Evidence to that effect is presented in publications such as Preparing teachers for family-school partnerships (Willemse et al., 2015). Teacher-parent cooperation and its enhanced future realization in normal school practice is therefore a distinct research theme within the Human Movement and Education Research Centre.

Issues

When new teachers look back at their training, most acknowledge that they would have benefited from communication-related training and that they had little opportunity to gain experience of interaction with parents. Consequently, such interaction is in practice often limited to sending newsletters and holding parents' evenings. Many schools are therefore missing opportunities for teacher-parent cooperation. That is a great pity, because systematic cooperation in fields such as literacy and numeracy are known to have a beneficial effect on the performance of primary school pupils and on the pathway and programme choices of secondary and intermediate vocational students.