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No Shit Sherlock : Supportive parents do more than good schools to boost children's exam results

(319 Posts)
TalkinPeace2 Sun 14-Oct-12 22:22:49

You don't say ....

gelo Tue 23-Oct-12 00:26:44

A lot of the damage to those from poorer homes is done before they even reach primary school which is why they begin school already about a year behind their more wealthy and advantaged peers and the gap continues to widen. Schools absolutely should do what they can to help them catch up, but there is a limit to what can be done. Making everyone go at a slower pace (ie chanting tt that they already know) doesn't seem the best solution to me. I'd prefer to see more individualised targeted interventions for those who need it.

Brycie Tue 23-Oct-12 21:37:42

I'm so glad this thread is still going.

Sugabeach and krystianah, one thing I don't understand is why this seems so difficult to understand. Surely it's obvious. Cover essential work in school.

This isn't going to solve all the problems that some underprivileged children experience. But why the anger, why do some people think it's quite literally madness to suggest covering essential work in school? I just don't get it.

Brycie Tue 23-Oct-12 21:45:27

"Making everyone go at a slower pace (ie chanting tt that they already know) doesn't seem the best solution to me."

This isn't the idea - in fact I believe you could speed up learning by raising the bar of the whole class (if you know what I mean by "raising the bar").

Firstly, a lot of time is spent in school on desirable but non essential work. A poster was talking earlier about teachers discussing how they got the "easy" side of things while the parents were doing rote work and the reading practice. Desirable work should always take second place to essential work though, particularly as desirable work can easily be done (or not done) by parents. Parents can choose their own way to do projects, art, cooking etc. And if the child is too tired, it can wait till the weekend.

Secondly, as talkingpeace mentioned, something like tts (this doesn't apply to reading practice) can be done in short bursts several times a day, singing, chanting, whatever. As time goes on and with each tt the children learn they can colour in the pattern tables. It just needs persistence - it may well be boring for a teacher but it's essential work. Also starting earlier.

And once the tts are in there everything else, with most children, should be quicker. You know the LCD of 3 and 4 without thinking. You know that a ratio of 3: 2: 4 will be 9 / 3 which you know without thinking. It raises the bar of the class (and what's more it's the kind of thing a lot of parents want when they choose prep instead of state.)

achillea Thu 25-Oct-12 00:19:31

Some children will always be ahead of others but over the years it evens out. A child with poor language in the early years can quickly catch up. The human brain is an amazing thing.

gelo Thu 25-Oct-12 01:01:09

achillea, studies have shown that children starting school behind are likely to stay behind and in general the gap widens. It's not always true, for sure, but unfortunately this is the trend. This is a real issue for social mobility since children from poorer homes are up to a year behind their wealthier peers by the time they start school and then the gap widens.

Mominatrix Thu 25-Oct-12 09:06:02

gelo - I thought the studies demonstrated that children from the poorest backgrounds are up to 3 years behind, not 1.

gelo Thu 25-Oct-12 11:00:06

There are quite a few studies Mominatrix and they vary a bit in what they look at and what they find. Some look at the poorest families, others compare lower middle incomes with higher ones. The bigger the income gap the more behind the dc are. It's a surprisingly strong correlation, but doesn't of course mean that all poor dc are behind or that all rich dc are ahead, merely that that is the strong trend. Neither does it mean that rich dc are intrinsically brighter - the differences are usually attributed to a more enriching start in life (being read to more, more museum type trips and activities etc) rather than genetics. So the effects of supportive parents begin way before the dc even attend school - no surprises then that that is a more important influence than the school attended - no shit sherlock indeed.

gabsid Thu 25-Oct-12 11:20:38

gelo - as you said, most studies seem to look at family income in relation to achievement, which on the whole probably gives a fairly accurate picture. However, I don't think the assumption that the more money you have the more academic your DC will makes sense.

I read that academic achievement of DC can be more accurately predicted by the level of education of the mother (or I would say primary carer). Those are the ones that talk to DC and stimulate them, so this would make more sense.

We both chose to work part-time, have more time with DC, however we are not poor, but our income is not fantastic - I would like to think that we have made the right decision.

gelo Thu 25-Oct-12 11:29:50

sounds about right to me gabsid. I would imagine there's a fairly strong positive correlation between maternal education and family income in any case.

Mominatrix Thu 25-Oct-12 11:42:05

gabsid, I have also read in many places that the best predictor of a child's academic success is the education level of the mother. I think that this is just a crude, measurable way of showing that more involved parenting will result in higher academic attainment of the children due to a) mothers are statistically more involved in the raising of children; b) mothers who are more educated will be more likely to insure they have better antenatal care, be more likely to breastfeed and ensure their children are given a nutritionally balanced diet; c) they are also more likely to provide adequate stimulation and regular bedtimes; and d) more likely to understand the importance of supporting their children's education and have high expectations from them. In other words, these children would have all the boxes ticked to have the best start in life.

Brycie Thu 25-Oct-12 21:29:26

I think a state education should battle against that statistic. Hereditary intelligence aside - no child should be left behind because of presumption that they're more likely to fail because of their parentage.

Brycie Thu 25-Oct-12 21:30:41

In fact I think it's the absolute duty of a state school to do that, to level the playing field as much as possible. And level it UPWARDS!

gabsid Thu 25-Oct-12 22:04:46


Brycie Fri 26-Oct-12 07:16:41

I'be described it quite a lot on the thread. By never relying on parents to help with essential academic work.

orangeberries Fri 26-Oct-12 08:54:25

The comment and research about the education levels of the mother, which I have seen a lot too is clearly linked to the culture we live in and the way our school system works. I would be interested if this study applied to different historical eras and cultures.

As an anectode, my mum's generation (different country, different culture) was brought up in the countryside with entirely illiterate parents (most of her friends were in the same boat, in fact over half of the country was illiterate at the time). The country went from a level of literacy of 30-50% to 90% within one generation - how did they do it? Why can't we learn from that?

They certainly did not rely on the parents, who were illiterate and too busy with the land and domestic duties and had far too many children (average of 6 children per family!).

My mum and many in her generation went onto university - schools were overcrowded and derelict but discipline levels were very very high and expectations also very high. I have seen a couple of pictures with one teacher to 50 children in a shed, some children did not have shoes, adequate clothing or food - my mum says that they all used to get breakfast as parents were too poor to provide it and often that was the only meal some children used to get in a day.

I think that we should look outside of the UK and back in time to explore the examples of where we got it right - we need to abandon prejudice and look at what has worked in the past and maybe try to embrace a different model that works better for everyone. It can be done and it has been done.

I can't think of one parent that would hate it if the children came back from school able to read and write without too much input from home - there, I've said it!

Brycie Fri 26-Oct-12 20:50:12

I quite agree with you orangeberries smile

gabsid Sat 27-Oct-12 20:58:35

orangeberries - did the parents believe that education could give their DC a better life? Did they believe in education and instilled that attitude into their DC.

In Africa I have known people who would go hungry to send their DC to school and those DC would work hard because they know how important it is to their parents and because they believe that its the key to a better life.

Not all parents here believe in schools and education, they have different cultural values, and how do you get around that.

orangeberries Sun 28-Oct-12 07:43:49

True I think there is the real difference, it was the parents' belief that education was everything, I still see this in some immigrants here and to a certain extent, despite being a generation or two beyond the starvation scenario, I still carry that sense myself. The school was very well supported by the parents not in the educational sense but in the discipline enforcement.

I have no idea how you get people to believe that education produces a better life, I certainly believe that celebrity culture hasn't helped much, children believe that there is no point in studying when you can earn a fortune being on TV.

In my DD1's class (y3) they had to write a letter to a famous person and post it, I thought that after the Olympics and world book day etc they would have chosen someone like that but no chance! My DD1 chose Tom Daley and a couple of her friends Ussain Bolt but she says that for most of the class it was Wayne Rooney, another footballer or a pop star. Shame really.

I think there is a general sense of cultural erosion but I have no idea how we fight back and especially help children and parents believe that education does produce a better quality of life..I don't think this is limited to the very disadvantaged but it spreads very widely throughout the various layers of society.

yoyomiyagi Sun 18-Nov-12 01:26:00

Brycie has a point. The fact is that more educated parents are more likely to be able to invest time or further resources. The UK could raise the bar of state education (and eventually of all of society) as other european nations have. The more unequal a society and the more costly this process becomes, to the point where, as in the US, the divide between what the school can deliver and what national exams require on a competitive national scale, must be somehow met by parents.

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