Role of the family crucial in improving performance in schools

3 December 2013

Responding to the publication of the OECD PISA Report, Carol Taylor, Director of Development and Research at NIACE, said:

“There is no doubt that many of our young people are not as well equipped in essential skills as their peers in other nations across the world. We have far too many who leave school with poor skills. We know that there are 4-year-olds starting school who haven’t been read to. We also know that children going to secondary school without the necessary skills will very quickly fall even further behind. Too many children leave school too early and then find themselves out of work, with no chance of a fulfilling career and dangerously close to living on the margins of society.

“Only last week, the Prime Minister, David Cameron, said that getting Britain higher up the international tables for literacy and numeracy was one of his top three priorities for the country for the next 10 years. Now is the time for all the political parties to come together – with the same urgency and prominence they have given to energy prices – to think about how to solve this issue rather than wasting time and money on apportioning blame. Young people who have failed at school will not suddenly succeed by being asked or made to take part in something they have already failed at. We have to use new ways to reach and teach them.

“As we showed at the recent launch of the final report of our Inquiry, family learning can increase the overall level of children’s development by as much as 15 percentage points for those from disadvantaged groups. We must realise that what happens in the first 3 years of life has the most overwhelming effect on how well children perform. Parents must have the skills to support their children’s development and this isn’t solely through teaching ‘parenting skills’. It is achieved through developing parents’ understanding of the value of learning. Schools cannot do it all on their own. Children spend less than 15% of their time in schools. We have to stop blaming teachers and schools, and start making use of what parents, the community and employers can offer to support. Every school must engage all their parents in learning.

“These young people will be adults very soon, adults with very poor prospects for work, for family life, for playing their part in their community. We must pull together, and this means government departments as well as providers, teachers and employers if we are going to help this and the next generation of children to get the skills they need for prosperous and fulfilling lives.”

NIACE will be sharing more in-depth analysis of the OECD PISA Report over the next few days.