Feedback: Parents, family, whānau

Parents came to the consultation meetings with a broad range of experiences and views about education and what was important to them.

They wanted their children to enjoy learning and have the chance to be the best they could. For many it was important that schools had the flexibility to meet a range of needs and to support the development of a well-rounded child. Some saw school as the start of a lifelong relationship with learning, acknowledging the importance of the early years and their impact on future choices.

“I want my school to get the best out of my kids so that they can be the best they can.”

The parents, family and whānau who responded through the feedback forms liked a mix of different ways to get information about their child’s learning and achievement, including face-to-face discussions and written reports. Parents of children with special needs wanted both an individual education programme for their child and a report on their progress in relation to the standards. Just under half of the parents who responded through the feedback forms answered the question intended for parents of children with special needs.

“I have twin boys with very different needs – it’s really important that all needs are met.”

Although most parents supported the introduction of National Standards, a number voiced some concerns. These included support for their school’s current way of reporting and discussing student progress, concerns that the standards ignored differences in individual patterns of growth, the risk of narrowing teaching, the importance of the development of the whole child, demotivating students who would never make the standard and the possibility of the unfair comparison of schools.

Specific, honest and regular feedback

Generally parents wanted better information about their children’s achievement and progress. They wanted this to be specific and honest, and thought it was important to receive information about their children’s weaknesses and learning needs as well as their strengths. They also wanted to know of any problems early.

Parents supported the concept of plain language reporting. They wanted to be able to easily understand how their children were doing, and not all had the confidence to ask their children’s teachers for more information. There was also support for tailoring reporting to the needs of different parents, including translation into other languages.

“We want honest feedback about any gaps in our child’s learning.”

Good communication and strong relationships

Parents said good communication with teachers was important to their ability to support their children’s learning. They particularly valued personal contact with teachers, including informal conversations and school-based social events and activities, as well as the more formal reporting processes.

“Establishing a partnership with the same goals is important.”

“We need realistic ideas and expectations about what we can do at home.”

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Information for parents

Parents said they needed to know more about what was going on in schools so they could support their children’s learning. They understood the National Standards were for teachers’ use, but wanted parent-friendly versions so they could understand the process better.

They also wanted a clearer idea about how the National Standards fitted with the overall education system, including the curriculum, learning levels and approaches to assessment used in schools. Very few parents knew what assessment systems were being used in their schools.

Parents were keen to know more about what their children were learning and about their learning strategies, so they could help them with their homework and support their learning.

“Give us support to understand the school systems in plain language.”

“We want to understand the teaching strategies eg in maths so we can use these at home to help our children.”

Practical support

Parents wanted to help their children learn, but said they needed support and some direction to feel confident and be effective. They strongly supported the Next Steps in the sample reports as it told them what was happening at school and gave practical home suggestions.

Suggestions for useful assistance the school could give included giving parents tips in newsletters and on websites, workshop evenings, parent mentoring and a liaison parent for every classroom.

“Promote family/school relationships – quiz nights, educational fun and get togethers.”

Sample reports

Most parents preferred Sample 1 of the two snap shot examples. They found this easier to read and understand and liked the presentation. They preferred Sample 1 of the over time reports, which graphed progress.

“Love next steps – very valuable, natural learning suggestions.”

“I like that it tells me what we need to do at home.”

You can download a copy of the full report on the parent consultation meetings below.

Content last updated: 20 September 2009