As part of our Empowered Parents campaign we wanted to find out more about how parents are supported by the teams and professionals around them.

We spoke with a secondary school teacher to find out her take on teacher to parent relationships.

Is there a specific parent that you noticed was struggling to speak up or understand the education system?

Since the GCSE reforms in 2015 many parents have struggled to understand the new system as it was only applied to all subjects in 2017. I’ve taught at secondary schools for six years, but I’ve never had a parent approach me about their struggle to understand elements of the education system or curriculum. Any concerns or questions are answered via regular communication with parents and events such as information and parent evenings that are provided by the school to eliminate confusion in regards to transitions and curriculums followed.

How did you manage to support them in becoming more confident to speak up and support their child?

I can’t specify an individual case but all teachers give up a lot of their time to provide regular communication with parents/ guardians and students to ensure there is a range of support in place to enable students to succeed.

How did your support and guidance go on to improving the progress with the student?

I work with many teachers who all provide extensive academic mentoring in their own time with both individuals and groups as well as free revision sessions to all students. These sessions are delivered before and after school and every half term and have proved to be successful in providing extra support to students when utilised consistently. The school provides incentives to encourage all students to attend.

What do you think more teachers need to understand when it comes to supporting families in schools?

From my own experience teachers from all subjects are aware of the support that families require however there are so many constraints on what teachers can do in terms of how involved they can be. One of these is time - the teaching profession has an incredibly low retention rate due to the stressful nature of the role. Schools often have dedicated family liaison staff to manage the pastoral side as teachers are unable do this alongside their full-time role. A qualified pastoral team can provide a range of services to support families and students who face various challenges.

What do you think teachers should do more in order to improve their relationships with parents?

In an ideal world more communication would be a great start however this has to work both ways. From personal experience, I can easily spend hours every week leaving voicemails and writing emails and never getting a response so the question should look at improving relationships from both sides not only the teachers. Time constraints must also be considered. I teach 180 students a day and have additional responsibilities. I would not be able to communicate with each parent regularly unless time was specifically given for this. As it stands, this isn’t possible due to the lack of staff which puts additional pressure on those in the profession to work above legally allocated hours as it is; so extra requirements to add further communication would not be possible without additional support being offered to teachers.