Parental involvement in the school career: a shared responsibility

Stakeholders meetup about parental involvement at Hefhouse
Stakeholders meetup about parental involvement at Hefhouse

On January 17, 2024, the Academic Outreach Programme came together with representatives from various stakeholder groups, including the Move Foundation (Dutch: Stichting MOVE), the SOL Network and the Rotterdam University of Applied Sciences (Dutch: Hogeschool Rotterdam), to discuss parental involvement (in the school career) within projects aimed at equal educational opportunities for elementary school pupils and high school students. 

To begin, a joint understanding of parental involvement was sought. The discussion included parental involvement in their children's education, attendance at important events and milestones at school such as parent evenings and report card meetings, encouragement of children and young people, and active support for academic achievement.

Barriers that impact parental involvement

Attendees agreed that structural barriers can impact parental involvement. For example, workload, financial concerns, mental health, and language and cultural barriers may all impact the ability of parents to be involved in their children’s school career. It is therefore crucial that schools actively think about how they can support parents in parental involvement. This can be done, for example, through clear communication (at language level B1), the use of multilingual information and visualizing information with illustrations and photos.

Role of university

As one of the participants of the Rotterdam University of Applied Sciences put: “True parental involvement goes further than just the parents”. According to the attendees, higher professional education and university can also make a positive contribution to the involvement of parents in the school career of their children. Consider, for example, (informational) programs that introduce parents of first-generation students to higher professional education or academic education, support groups for parents in primary education to support them in their children's transition to secondary education, or a kind of "crash course” on higher professional education and academic education for parents. 

Responsibility of us all

It became clear once again that low levels of parental involvement often do not arise from individual considerations, but from structural barriers and inequalities in knowledge and skills surrounding the (complex) Dutch education system. Parental involvement is therefore a responsibility of all of us. We thank everyone present for the inspiring meeting and look forward to welcoming all attendees to future networking events.

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