…according to Bernadette Hunter, NAHT president.  I don’t think it should start at 08:50 either for that matter.  The National Association of Head Teachers and the charity Family Action have just published a new leaflet ‘Giving Your Child a Helping Hand’ in an effort to inspire parents to become more actively engaged with their child’s education both inside and outside of the school context.

My frame of reference is as a father of three, primary governor, working in educational technology, married to an (ex) teacher (and family and friends networks full of them…).  I, and my children, are therefore fortunate to be surrounded by strong frameworks and guidance that values learning and the acquisition of the skills required to achieve their potential in life.  Half term this week, and ‘learning’ may have, arguably, stepped up a gear with a week of activities filled with crafts and tasks, outdoor events and yesterday an outing to the Tate Modern, and walk through of London sights and related questions (e.g. Houses of Parliament).  I suspect, however, that while these experiences are actually not expensive (museums are free) they may also be atypical.

The new guide, which is based on the latest evidence of the factors that contribute significantly to a child’s attainment and progress in school (albeit typically measured narrowly on the outcomes of end of KS2 tests), does suggest a range of activities for parents to engage with their children’s education – from visiting historical sites, to stargazing and learning about the planets together.  It is a stark reminder that when you start to look at the underlying data, related factors such as a child’s postcode, the deprivation index, the child’s parents own experience of school and highest qualification levels all combine to a significant, if not overwhelming, influence on the child’s potential attainment.  Add to this the influence of a child’s prior cognitive ability, and other factors outside of the control of a school, and it’s clear that the gauntlet is thrown down for the schooling system to successfully nurture, grow and help a child succeed in learning between the hours of 9 and 3, five days per week.

At the Knowledge Network we passionately believe in lifelong learning, and in using technology to help us create the conditions for success (be that through the lens of attainment or otherwise) for all.  We believe, as do the NAHT, that parents, carers, families and friends need to be fundamental participants in a child’s learning to achieve the best from it.  We also think that parents need guidance and support, suggestions on how to help effectively, and to understand just how different their child’s experience of education may be to their own.  That’s why we’re proud here to build the platforms that help communities communicate and build networks, to share information, and to praise and recognise achievement, however small, along each individuals lifelong learning journey.

In further posts, we’ll expand on how the public, including parents, can use open data to understand the national and local context of their child’s education.  Through turning data into meaningful information, and by bringing learning communities together before 9am and after 3pm 365 days a year we believe we can help young people to achieve more.

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