Better maths grades? Help the parents.

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Mathematics and English  get the grade. Do what ever you have to: after school sessions, amended curriculum, holiday workshops... but get the grade.

The message that students hear throughout their secondary school careers, driven home by Further Education college presentations and prospectuses, is that English and Mathematics are pivotal to accessing post-16 education. With the participation age being set at 18 and the students being required to resit those two subjects in pursuit of the C grade, achievement at 16 has greater weight than ever.

We all know that examination success doesn't spring out of thin air. It relies on the solid foundation of primary education, developed and fostered from year 7 onwards at secondary schools. By year 11 there should be no surprises. Formative assessment, examination skills and consciously developed learning should position every child to achieve their potential. The missing factor? What's happening at home?

Breaking news from the TES, covering an initiative launched by Teach First, revealed the significance of support at home in getting the best opportunities for every child. The article states that the poll of 1,000 parents by ComRes for Teach First and Barclays also found that two in five parents need to use their phone calculator to work out sums, and a third feel anxious about supporting their child with homework. This shows how important excellent parental engagement is. Informing parents of curriculum content, when their child is studying a particular topic and how it is assessed relies on the skills being present at home to support that learning.

What's true of mathematics is also likely to be valid for English, and where is the disadvantage likely to be greatest? The very young people who most need to achieve their potential in order to break out of the cycle of economic disadvantage and low aspirations. This is a classic case of what is good for the few is good for all. By providing support and focused guidance for parents, developing their skills and confidence, a school gives the best opportunities to every child.

Read the full article here.

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