Learning with Parents exists because not all children have a fair shot at education in the UK. This is down to several different factors, one of which is parental engagement. They exist to support all families to have positive learning interactions together.
As a charity whose mission it is, to empower teachers to give every young person the subject knowledge and skills that will allow them to succeed, it made sense for Ark Curriculum Plus, and in particular Mathematics Mastery, to partner with Learning with Parents and do everything we can to ensure that parents are also equipped with the knowledge and skills to allow their children to succeed.
So, can this approach really work? Can we engage parents to support and enrich learning that has happened at school?
Schools that are using both of our programmes were surveyed to find out.
1. 87% of parents agreed that they are now more confident with supporting their child effectively with maths.
One teacher agrees that “parents now know how to engage and what’s expected. They’re more confident.”
One of the key issues that that is very often fed back to teachers is that when parents try to support their pupils at home but are not familiar with the methods that pupils are now taught or are not familiar with language used. This can create an additional barrier and very often confuse both the parents and the children and end up being counterproductive and can indeed knock the parents’ confidence.
By using Learning with Parents, parents and carers are given the language used and have short videos to show them the methods pupils will have been introduced to in school, leaving no room for ambiguity. This ensures the learning at home reinforces the exact same learning that has already taken place at school and 87% of teachers agreed that this helps their pupils embed their understanding of the topics at a greater level.
2. Another very common issue often encountered in schools, is when parents have negative attitudes to maths and would say things, such as, ‘I was never any good at maths’ or ‘I always hated maths and could never do it.’
Children inevitably pick up on this negative language and attitude and think that maths is now a ‘gene’ that has passed down to them and they also ‘can’t do maths.’
By engaging with a home learning programme and giving parents the tools they need to engage with their children, attitudes can change.
Amanda Marsh at St Wilfrid's Catholic Primary School, Sheffield says “The Learning with Parents programme videos allows parents to hear and see how we model and represent the maths in lessons without having to attend training for each new maths topic! They can also hear and use the language with the maths at home that the children are familiar with at school. I have had parents feedback to me that it helped them see clearly and quickly how things were different but showed them how it was now taught so took some of the difficulty away at home because they didn't have to rely on 'how they were taught' and could follow the simple demonstration in the video.”
3. Very often it is school policy that homework is set for pupils. This can often act as an additional ‘task’ for teachers, as most curriculum programmes or schemes do not provide set homework activities directly linked to the learning in school.
Teachers very often resort to searching free websites to download and print worksheets that often had a very ‘loose’ link to the learning that was happening in school or even worse, there can often be a set homework activity book where pupils complete one page a night. In this case, this becomes an activity for the sake of homework and the value of what they were learning or consolidating often became irrelevant.
Where a school has a homework policy, it is therefore vital that the teachers are given the tools they need to be able to provide valuable home-learning experiences for pupils so that learning can be enriched further.
75% of teachers reported that less of their planning time was needed to set meaningful homework with Learning with Parents in comparison to when they were not using the programme.
We asked Amanda if using both Mathematics Mastery and Learning with Parents has supported teachers with their workload around home learning:
“For us it does 100%. Homework is so simple and easy. And it lasts for 2 weeks which is roughly the same as the units we teach in school. It is reassuring to know that the language structures and vocabulary are aligned with Mathematics Mastery so the children and parents can use this at home with confidence. Also the fact that it is not necessarily a written or 'complete a sheet of equations' task explores the real life aspects of maths or consolidates the learning in a game scenario or role play all of which are valuable to broaden the experience of maths and hopefully support engagement of both children and adults in the home! It also allows anyone to complete the work with the child – not just a parent.”
It therefore makes sense that schools who believe in the power of homework, to reinforce and consolidate the learning happening in school, aim to choose a fully aligned programme with their main curriculum programme.