This month, COFACE Families Europe had an exchange with the eTwinning of Ambassadors which is a network of about 1400 motivated teachers that have been recognised for their great work within the community. eTwinning offers a platform for staff (teachers, head teachers, librarians, etc.), working in a school in one of the European countries involved, to communicate, collaborate, develop projects, share and to be part of the most exciting learning community in Europe. In April, they organised an Ambassadors Online Conference with a number of topics addressed including building cross-country knowledge on how to motivate schools and local communities to get engaged with eTwinning. COFACE therefore had an exchange with the Ambassadors on ways to include parents in school activities. Key questions/topics on the table included the following:
- Do you think parents can benefit the school community?
- Parents’ background affects their school education
- I collaborate closely with the parents of my students
- Concrete ways to involve parents
- Best practices to involve parents in the school community.
The exchange allowed an open dialogue on how to best involve parents in school communites. Good practice ideas which emerged from the teachers included: democratic structures for participation of parents, cookery classes for men, maths for parents, ‘Dads & Lads’ group, students teaching ICT to parents, Parent/Teacher/Student conferences, coffee mornings. Erasmus+ was also referred to as a good way to bring parents and teachers together. An example is the project: Period 3: Parental Involvement.
At COFACE we believe that while education is about putting the child at the centre, it is also a family project; inclusion requires holistic communal commitment; and policy and action require comprehensive and rights-based approaches. It starts from early childhood education and care, and is carried through university and vocational training programmes and includes extra-curricular activities such as sports, clubs, and volunteering. Furthermore, education experiences are carried out daily within the family. Parents and grandparents, as first educators, have their role to play; community social structures and schools play crucial roles in development; and each are equally important for children to reach their full potential. Families are usually a strong and safe support in time of refuge; and their well-being can be affected by a variety of factors. Including parents in the democratic educational processes can be beneficial for all concerned, and many COFACE members are a channel to promote exchanges between parents and teachers. When it comes to migrant/newly arrived families: parental involvement is a key factor in successful integration and school performances, parents should also be acknowledged, taught and invited to participate in governance and support their child’s academics. Building trust in the system through parental involvement.
More information can be found in our upcoming COFACE position paper on building inclusive societies (which will be published in May on our social media networks).