Ridiculous British Rules On Parents Taking Kids Out Of School Face Growing Opposition

I’ve previously written a number of posts about the British prohibitions against parents taking their children out of school for vacations and events when class is in session.

It’s now facing growing opposition.

You can read more at these two articles:

Ban on term time holidays should be overturned, say council leaders is from The Guardian.

Parents must be allowed to take children out of school for holidays, council leaders say is from The Telegraph.

Guest Post: Parent Engagement In Scotland

I recently wrote a post titled Proposal to Let Principals Levy Fines On “Bad Parents” In Britain – That Sure Will Help Develop Parent Engagement about a ridiculous idea by Ofsted (which I believe is roughly equivalent to the U.S. Department of Education).

Eileen Prior, who is head of the Scottish Parent Teacher Council, a small, parent-led charity dedicated to supporting positive parental involvement in their child’s education, has written this guest post in response. Her organization has more than 60 years’ experience in working with parents all over Scotland, and encourage a partnership approach at local and national level.

Scotland’s schools have an impressive international reputation, and you can learn more about them at The Best Resources For Learning About Scotland’s Schools:

The recent pronouncement by the boss of Ofsted (the Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills) that parents who fail to support their children’s education should be fined, made me glad to be in Scotland.

Thankfully Ofsted has no jurisdiction in this part of the world: education has long been organised differently in Scotland and was devolved to the Scottish Government in 1999. 

I honestly find it baffling that any education system which claims to support parental involvement in education – indeed refers to partnership with parents – can simultaneously see the punishment of parents who fall short of expectations as acceptable in any way. What place does punishment have in a partnership? 

I think in Scotland we have a different cultural approach when it comes to engaging parents. Since 2007 we have had parental involvement legislation, which is designed to give parents both rights – and some responsibilities – when it comes to engaging with their child’s school. It does not touch on the ‘at home good parenting’ issues highlighted by Desfores but rather makes the leap of faith outlined by Mongon and Chapman in 2012, ie that a closer connection with families will lead to better outcomes for young people. 

We also have Curriculum for Excellence (CfE) – Scotland’s attempt to equip our young people with the skills and aptitudes they will need into the future.  With refreshed approaches to teaching and learning, CfE also spells out the important role of parents as partners in their child’s learning.

Ultimately, the policy imperative in Scotland around parental involvement is about impacting on outcomes – educational, economic and social – as we continue to struggle with an attainment gap which too closely reflects the pattern of haves and have not’s in our society.

The attainment gap at school, in turn, influences long term prospects in education and work. Poverty is a strong indicator of success at school in Scotland (though by no means the only only) – something which does not sit comfortably with any of the political parties.

With their focus on parents as partners in our children’s education, the combination of CfE and the Parental Involvement Act is heady stuff – their narrative of working with parents could hardly be more different from Ofsted’s approach.


Desforges, C. and Abouchaar, A. (2003), The impact of parental involvement, parental support and family education on pupil achievement and adjustment: a literature review, Research Report No 433  London: DfES. 

Mongon, D., and Chapman, C., (2012) High-Leverage Leadership: improving outcomes in educational settings, London, Routledge

I’m adding this post to The Best Resources On Parent Engagement In Countries Other Than The U.S.

What Has Gotten In To These Guys? Now Leader Of Britain’s Labor Party Appears To Call For A “Parent Trigger”

I just don’t understand how people who consider themselves progressive here in the United States and, now, in Great Britain can support such a fundamentally undemocratic tool as the parent trigger (where a small number of parents can upend a public institution — read more at The Best Resources For Learning Why The Parent Trigger Isn’t Good For Parents, Kids Or Schools).

Last night, Ed Miliband, the leader of Great Britain’s Labor Party, appeared to call for the creation of a UK version of the parent trigger. Here’s an excerpt from his speech:

Clearly, we need greater local accountability for our schools.

And in the coming months, David Blunkett will be making recommendations to us about how to do .

As part of that plan, we must also empower parents.

Parents should not have to wait for some other body to intervene if they have serious concerns about how their school is doing, whether it is a free school, academy or local authority school.

But at the moment they do.

In all schools, there should be a “parent call-in”, where a significant number of parents can come together and call for immediate action on standards.

power exists in parts of the United States.

And I have tasked David Blunkett with saying how that can happen here too.

I don’t know who David Blunkett is, but I sure hope he does his homework and is able to dissuade Miliband from making such a foolish move…

“‘Fining parents of schoolchildren who are late for class is wrong'”

‘Fining parents of schoolchildren who are late for class is wrong’ is a commentary from the British newspaper “The Telegraph” about a new strategy some public schools are taking over there, and I tend to agree with the writer.

You can read an article, and watch a video, on the same topic over at the BBC: School in Milton Keynes to fine parents for constant lateness.

I Don’t Think Fining Parents For Taking Students Out Of School For A Week’s Vacation Is The Best Idea….

A couple in the United Kingdom was given a substantial fine for taking their two children out of school for a one week vacation.

If you read the BBC article, it certainly doesn’t sound like justice was served.

Listen, I’m a teacher. It doesn’t make my job easier when parents take their kids to Mexico for a few weeks during the holidays, or when students miss school for a trip. But, come on, we live in the real world, and I understand that not everyone has the privilege of having vacation when I do. I also recognize that there are educational benefits for the kids in these trips.

As the father in the article says:

“The people who make these laws and policies don’t live in the real world.”

I’m adding this to The Worst Parent Engagement Ideas.

Two Somewhat Interesting Results From PISA Parent Survey

The 2012 Program for International Student Assessment, or PISA, test results were releases this past week, and you can read all about it at The Best Posts & Articles On 2012 PISA Test Results.

I thought readers of this blog might be particularly interested in a couple of passages from two of their reports related to parents. Their not earth-shattering, but are worth sharing:

Parents’ expectations are strongly and positively associated not only with students’ mathematics performance but also with positive dispositions towards learning.

Across the 11 countries and economies that distributed a questionnaire to parents, students whose parents have high expectations for them – who expect them to earn a university degree and work in a professional or managerial capacity later on – tend to have more perseverance, greater intrinsic motivation to learn mathematics, and more confidence in their own ability to solve mathematics problems than students of similar socio-economic status and academic performance, but whose parents hold less ambitious expectations for them.

If offered a choice of schools for their child, parents are more likely to consider such criteria as “a safe school environment” and “a school’s good reputation” more important than “high academic achievement of students in the school”.



New Initiative In England: “Family Learning Works”

It appears that a big new initiative is beginning in England called Family Learning Works. It’s mission is:

Every child’s education must include family learning to increase their levels of attainment at school, to prepare them for the rapidly changing labour market and help secure a prolonged economic recovery.

I’ve embedded a video below about the program. I don’t dispute the concerns that are voiced in the program and video, but I’m not too comfortable with the tone. It seems a little accusatory against parents for my taste.

You can read The Best Resources On Parent Engagement In Countries Other Than The U.S. to get a sense of the kind of parent engagement efforts about which I feel more positive.

“In Culture Parent” Could Be Useful To Parents & Teachers Alike

In Culture Parent is a website that could be useful to both parents and teachers.

Here’s how it describes itself:

InCultureParent is an online magazine for parents raising little global citizens. Centered around culture, tradition and language, we feature articles on parenting around the world and raising multicultural and multilingual (also bicultural and bilingual) children. We also spotlight different global holidays together with craft ideas for kids and recipes. We review good books for kids that have a multicultural theme or feature different cultures.

You might also be interested in The Best Resources On Parent Engagement In Countries Other Than The U.S.

Big Benefits From Home Visits In Jamaica

I’ve posted a lot about the importance of making home visits to families, pre-school parent involvement, and parent engagement in countries across the globe (you can find those posts here).

Now, here’s a story that combines all of those elements.

A report has recently come out on pretty amazing results that came from making home visits to families in Jamaica. You can read an article about it in the Pacific Standard as well as the original research study.

Using “African Models Of Leadership” To Strengthen Parent Engagement

Black Parental Involvement In South African Rural Schools: Will Parents Every Help In Enhancing Effective School Management is a research paper containing the results of interviews with South African principals and principals.

Many of the issues will sound familiar to us in the West. What’s particularly interesting, though, are the comments made by the research about how to respond to the challenge using “African models of leadership.”

It’s relatively short for an academic study, and very accessible — definitely worth a read.

I’m adding it to The Best Resources On Parent Engagement In Countries Other Than The U.S.

News From The UK: “Meet the Parents starts a welcome grassroots movement: local people speaking up for their schools”

Meet the Parents starts a welcome grassroots movement: local people speaking up for their schools is an article in The Guardian about parents organizing in the United Kingdom to help people see the good things that are happening in regular public schools in an effort to encourage them not to enroll in the UK’s equivalent of charters (at least, that’s my reading of what they’re doing — let me know if that’s an inaccurate summary).

I’m adding it to The Best Resources On Parent Engagement In Countries Other Than The U.S.

“‘Pay teachers more instead of free laptop’, Kenyan parents say”

‘Pay teachers more instead of free laptop’, Kenyan parents say is the headline of an interesting newspaper article.

The Kenya National Association Of Parents opposes the $700 million dollar government deal with Microsoft to give free laptops to students because of the present shortage of teachers, the bad working conditions of present teachers, and the lack of preparation for the technology program.

I don’t know the specifics of Microsoft’s program, though the mixed results of the One Laptop Per Child program does raise some questions about what they might be doing.

There’s a much bigger question, though — Again, I don’t know the details, but perhaps Kenyan parents should have been consulted prior to such a major education policy decision?

Just sayin’….

I’m adding this info to The Best Resources On Parent Engagement In Countries Other Than The U.S.

Big New Report On Parent Engagement In United Kingdom

A new research report on parent engagement in the United Kingdom has just been released.

The Rapid review of parental engagement and narrowing the gap in attainment for disadvantaged children doesn’t seem to share anything that would be new to people involved in parent engagement efforts.

I did like that it talked about “instances of parents from ethnic minorities telling stories in class in their community’s home language, or attending school themselves for language and literacy classes.” I’ve written about that and how I’ve done it in my classes, but haven’t seen it talked much about in other areas.

I also liked that it mentioned how important it is to “stress the need for a genuine collaboration between parents and facilitators, with a two-way exchange.” However, a big disappointment was that it didn’t seem to follow up that statement with specific examples highlighting how that was done.

Since it doesn’t share anything new, I’m not going to add it to “The Best Research Available On Parent Engagement”.

However, I am going to add it to The Best Resources On Parent Engagement In Countries Other Than The U.S.

More On Parent Engagement In New Zealand

I’ve previously posted about the success of parents in New Zealand forcing the government to step back from plans to increase class size in that country.

Key: Government lost class size debate is the headline of a newspaper article on the the fight. Here’s how it starts:

The Government scrapped its policy to increase class sizes and cut teacher numbers not because it changed its mind, but because it was losing the debate with parents, Prime Minister John Key says.

I’m adding it to The Best Resources On Parent Engagement In Countries Other Than The U.S.

Survey Of British Parent Attitudes Toward School

The BBC just published the results of a survey of British parents’ attitudes toward school (see Parents ‘more involved in children’s schools’). Here’s how it begins:

Parents believe they are more involved in their children’s education than their own parents were – and that children now have more opportunities in school, suggests a survey.

The survey for the National Association of Head Teachers looked at how parents viewed their children’s schooling.

Almost three quarters believed they were more engaged with their children’s school than the previous generation.

Head teachers’ leader Russell Hobby said the results were “heartening”.

Mr Hobby said the poll of over 1,000 parents in England, Wales and Northern Ireland suggested the schools were “welcoming places”.