Family Values: Coed Eva primary gets parents involved in education

April 26, 2011 at 11:35 am Leave a comment

by Alec Patton

One of the most important things we’ve learned from Learning Futures is that a school can only go so far without engaging the community within which it sits – especially parents. There are several reasons for this, but perhaps the most important is that schools are not the only (or necessarily even the most important) place where kids go to learn (the corollary is that teachers are not the only adults that kids learn from). Thus, schools ignore these other locations for learning at their peril.

This is easy to say, and much harder to do in practice, so I was pleased to read an article by Meabh Ritchie in the TES about Coed Eva, a primary school in Wales that’s developed a ‘family values’ programme. Here’s how it works (quoted from the article):

Each month, families are given activity packs that are centred on a particular value – “respect” or “honesty”, for example – and can opt to do value-related tasks or games, for which they get a number of points. At the end of each month, the families get together for a “mega-challenge” activity at the school and rack up their points to see if they will be getting a gold, silver or bronze rosette at the monthly Family Values assembly. Last month’s value was “freedom” and the mega-challenge saw each family build and decorate a kite before flying it in the playground.

What’s particularly interesting is the role of the kids in promoting the project and making it successful:

Diane Hambley, a mother of three, was not keen on the self-assessment aspect of the log books and the requirement to write down and take photos of what they have done as a family. “I’ve always done that stuff – making sure we spend time together and thinking about family values – and I didn’t like the idea of physically documenting what we would do anyway,” she says.

But Alicia, her six-year-old daughter, would not take no for an answer. “The more involvement from me and her dad the better, as far as she’s concerned,” says Ms Hambley. “She loves to document it all and draw what we’ve done. I see it as an extension of what we do anyway and some of the ideas are things I haven’t thought of before.”

As a result of the monthly gatherings, Ms Hambley feels she has got to know other parents much better. “The mega-challenge is always a good laugh,” she says. “I might seem quite outgoing, but I’m quite reserved around people I don’t know. When you get together at the school, you do get to know more people.”

Family Values has already been taken up by 28 other schools. It will be very interesting to see how it develops.

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Entry filed under: Education & Children's Services.

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