Most parents I talk to are naturally very interested in the school that their child goes to. Whether they are choosing state or independent, collectively it seems that they spend hours touring schools, reading Ofsted Reports, discussing assessments, moving house, discovering religion etc. The one common purpose of all these varied activities is to ensure that their child goes to THE BEST SCHOOL POSSIBLE at the age of 5.
But are we mad? Is this middle-class obsession and tenacity barking up the wrong tree ? Should we care so much about which school our child goes to or is our input as parents the most important thing? Within my family, my husband’s parents moved from Devon to Buckinghamshire so that their sons could go to grammar schools. My own parents sent me on a hour-long bus journey each day so that I could go to the ‘best school’ in our area and not the local one. Is it necessary to go to these lengths to ensure your child has the best start in life?
Save The Children estimates that 85% of a child’s learning takes place out of school. And they don’t mean playing Mozart to them before they are born, taking them around the Tate Modern every Sunday or tutoring them from the age of 4 (don’t laugh – this is quite common in some circles!). Their research shows that if you give your child proper attention, have boundaries and love and care for them, they’ll do well wherever they go to school.
Gianni De Fraja and Tania Oliveira from the University of Leicester and Luisa Zanchi, of the Leeds University Business School also wrote a controversial report which concluded that parental input is much more important for academic achievement than the school attended. Parents active involvement in their child’s education is more valuable to them than going to the the ‘best school with the best teachers’.
As a teacher myself, I know that the parents who get involved at home in what we do at class (sing along with the songs, help line-learn, watch them do the dance routine) give the child a very noticeable added boost which really makes a difference in their enjoyment and achievements. So if it works in drama, why not in Maths and English too?
I’d love to hear your thoughts.