Regardless of their socio-economic status, most parents report that they want 'the best' for their children's futures. Parents from backgrounds of relative socio-economic advantage usually have 'educational cultural capital' to support their children's educational aspiration. Less is known about what resources might be drawn on to support such aspirations in families experiencing relative socio-economic disadvantage. This project addresses that evidence gap. A comprehensive international literature review will help identify features of parent engagement and information programs and resources that are cost efficient and effective in informing and supporting those experiencing such disadvantage. The insights gained will be used to create a web resource for use by various organisations to inform the design of parent engagement and information programs and tools.
The principal goal is to improve Tasmanian educational retention and attainment through improved quantity and quality of parental and community engagement in schools. The project will deliver capacity building workshops for school leaders, community and families to facilitate development of school-parent-community partnerships to increase parental engagement and support children to realise their educational potential. The workshops are the first stage of the project and open to all schools to participate. From these workshops, 12 eligible schools will be invited to apply to be supported by the project team to refine and implement strategies and school-parent-community engagement plans. The Ian Potter Foundation has contributed funding and states that eligible schools are those with a large cohort of students classified in the lowest 25% nationally by socio-economic status.
The Parents Matter project with its website and resources aims to address the gap between parental aspirations for their children and parental knowledge about Tasmanian industries of the future (food, tourism, advanced manufacturing, health), education pathways to those careers, and to better understand and support their children’s career and education aspirations.
Most children begin to make choices about broad career and post school education participation when they are in junior secondary school or, for some, earlier (Alloway et al. 2004). Those children who do not see themselves continuing past year 10 may make subject choices in years 9 and 10 that limit their post year 10 options. Most outreach programs in Tasmania target older secondary children, with very few programs available to parents. Yet parents/families play a pivotal role in supporting and advising their children about further education and have a significant impact on children’s educational aspirations and expectations (Khattab 2015; Alloway et al. 2004).
The quality of parent conversations with their children is strongly influenced by their own educational experiences (Webb et al 2015; Sullivan 2001). Although parents want the best for their children, they may not have the educational experiences themselves to draw upon to support their children’s educational aspirations (Alloway et al. 2004; Kilpatrick and Abbott-Chapman 2002).
The Parents Matter project is funded by the Tasmanian Community Fund, 2016-2017, and Skills Tasmania, 2018.
Alloway, N., Gilbert, P., Gilbert, R., and Muspratt, S. (2004). Factors impacting on student aspirations and expectations in regional Australia. Department of Education, Science and Training, Australia, Canberra.