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Anyone with Ofsted knowledge about - Parent Engagement Question please.

(15 Posts)
RedPoppiesAndSpots Sat 02-Jul-16 10:50:43

Our new head seems very anti-parent volunteers and said yesterday that her reason was "Ofsted would be all over it - definite Required Improvement for having lots of random adults wandering around the school."

The previous head welcomed "targeted" volunteers with open arms - ie with regular help, requested by teachers, doing stuff that would help, safeguarding procedures followed. He said parental engagement was a big Ofsted positive.

Who is right? I have tried to google it and found a few papers which suggest a positive view held by Ofsted - but they are a few years old - so not sure if now out of date/superseded by a more wary viewpoint.

MovingOnUpMovingOnOut Sat 02-Jul-16 11:01:09

OFSTED are very big on parent engagement generally. My understanding is that this takes various forms of which parent helpers are one. Others included things like how active are parents in the school (PTA, class reps, survey responses) and the official survey about what parents think about the school which I forget the name of. There are other ways you can demonstrate parent engagement for example by social media (is there a school Facebook page?) and other engagement mechanisms like focus or listening groups, governor engagement and pupil/parent partnership work.

Not all schools will do everything of do it in the same way.

One thing I would say about parent helpers is that of course they should not be random swirling in a random way. They should have a role (even if it's as broad as "listening to readers weekly") and be DBS checked. Their details should be logged on the central record and they should sign in and out. Good practice would be to issue a lanyard or sticker to show who they are and what they are doing. Even better would be to brief them properly, regularly check the work they do adds value and remember to thank them.

It would be a shame to lose parent helpers and I think your new head seems to have had some very negative experiences or doesn't understand the point or benefits of parent helpers.

Taking them away will damage parent engagement and good will. Retaining and improving them can only be good for the school.

MovingOnUpMovingOnOut Sat 02-Jul-16 11:01:55

Swirling should be working.

AChickenCalledKorma Sat 02-Jul-16 13:25:42

She's right that random adults wandering about would be an immediate fail on safeguarding. But that's not how a well-run school supervises its parent helpers. So it's either just an excuse on her part or her awareness of good practice is a bit limited.

bojorojo Sat 02-Jul-16 21:54:40

What an odd approach your Head has taken. Parents who volunteer on a regular basis are not random adults. It is a bit rude isn't it? Head cannot be bothered in my opinion. She does not want to make the effort. Parent helpers are a good way to show parent engagement and she is incorrect about Ofsted. She sounds useless really .

RedPoppiesAndSpots Sun 03-Jul-16 20:08:20

Thank you, this is interesting and kind of confirms what I thought.

In the past parent helpers have always been busy and directed. Never just "randoms wandering about". And actually bojo I agree, rude.

Not sure if I can do anything about it though. I know the teachers are feeling the lack of parent volunteers.

Grumpysfirstwife Sun 03-Jul-16 20:34:21

Our last head also banned any parents from volunteering. She also stated OFSTED and safeguarding reasons despite half the volunteers being police officers, judges, magistrates and social workers all with up to date DBS. hmm

The volunteers are desperately needed too because we have merged year classes (years 1 & 2 together, 3 & 4 together etc) and they really struggle to cope with keeping up with reading etc.

Its had a huge affect on the PTFA who is now down to just 3 members because parents felt they were being unfairly judged (she wasn't polite in telling everyone they weren't welcome on the premises and she actually accused the local police inspector of trying to further her career by helping out angry) and school trips are no longer possible because the Head wouldn't allow parents to help anymore.

We have enormous NO ENTRY signs on every window along with NO MOBILES ON THE PREMISES. The poor chap who needs to use his phone to check the fire alarms had to leave without doing his job (He needed to scan the bar codes with his phone to check their history log) I've been frog marched off the premises when my DD text me to say she had arrived safely and I checked my phone in the foyer not in the presence or sight of any children to make sure she was ok.

I think she watches too much Midsomer Murders hmm our village is almost identical, tiny in the middle of nowhere but without the violence, murder and brutality grin She has left now but the temporary head doesn't want to change anything without the new one knowing so they're going to have a shock in September when no-one volunteers for anything.

MovingOnUpMovingOnOut Sun 03-Jul-16 20:49:15

God it sounds bloody awful.

Schools aren't run in isolation. They are part of communities and the support and goodwill of that community is vital.

What's the governing body have to say about the head's decision op?

AChickenCalledKorma Mon 04-Jul-16 07:33:30

We have enormously tight security due to a combination of a highly safety-conscious SLT and a number of children who would run away given the chance. There are electronic locks everywhere and you have to sign in with a photographic security pass to get past the front desk. But there are loads of parent helpers. So the two things don't go hand in hand. But the paperwork to keep everyone checked and supervised may well be quite onerous.

Primaryteach87 Mon 04-Jul-16 07:49:46

They are both right.
Ofsted do like parental engagement but the expectation is that DBS checks and even references are taken up with role descriptions and safeguarding briefings etc. It can make it quite time consuming. Also... I mean this in the nicest possible way, some parents are just more hassle than their worth and can hinder learning...e.g of listening to readers and not knowing phonics correctly themselves. For that reason we do training with all volunteer readers.

Primaryteach87 Mon 04-Jul-16 07:50:13

Should say "they're"

bojorojo Mon 04-Jul-16 10:49:58

I am a Governor and I go into classrooms and I go on schools trips. We have a group of parents who are DBS checked and so are all the Governors because we see the children. The school has a buzzer entry system and everyone signs in and out and is given a badge. I amnot aware that phones are removed and I think this is highly unlikely. I have never beenasked for mine! All of the official checks are very important, of course, but it does not prevent parents helpers or indeed Governor helpers from being welcome. Parents all have their precise roles in school and, as a governor, my visits have focus. Of course parents need a certain amount of training when they are listening to reading or helping with maths, but we find those that want to help are more than willing to learn and we greatly value them.

We do not do safeguarding briefings for parents and governors on a regualr basis but the governors have all done our required training session, as have the staff and parent helpers. It is not onerous. If it deliberately made so, it is an excuse not to have parents!

In all the schools where I have been involved as a parent and a Governor, every single school has welcomed parental help on the understanding that it is "professional" in its approach and it is worthwhile, reliable, has a focus and the parents understand the rules. Lots of the helpers are professional people and work part-time or are just taking a braeak. It is very poor to prevent them offering their time and expertise to a school. It must be a horrible feeling to be excluded from your child's school and I would contact the Chairman of Governor to state the difficulties with the approach being taken. They will probably say this is up to the Head, but you could ask what their strategic policies are with regard to parental engagement. What do these policies actually mean in day to day practice? How do they demonstrate they value the parents and the wider community? It might make them think about what they are, or are not, doing.

whatamidoinghereanyway Tue 05-Jul-16 12:47:39

Your new head has shot herself in the foot. Given the cl funding cuts for TA s a good head would be creating a bank of good, reliable, CRB checked parent helpers, and working out how to manage them.

Silly silly.

bojorojo Tue 05-Jul-16 13:46:32

Schools manage their own budgets and do not necessarily have to cut TA time unless they choose to do this within their individual budget constraints. However, parents are not TAs and cannot do the same work. They are, nevertheless, valued in half-decent schools!

bungleknows Tue 05-Jul-16 20:56:42

Didn't someone on here say that rules are changing so parent helpers have to hand in cvs and have references and interviews?

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