Parents as partners
Parents as partners

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Parents as partners

2.3 Understanding why some parents decide not to be partners

In terms of parental partnership, it can be argued that a professional approach involves practitioners taking responsibility for making partnership work. This might include sensitively formulating what is envisaged for the partnership, and listening to parents' views, reactions and wishes.

What might lie behind parents' seeming lack of engagement with practitioners? Melian Mansfield of the Campaign for the Advance of State Education (CASE) met with a group of parents to try to address this question. The group came up with the following 25 reasons why parents might not be able to attend an early years setting when invited:

  1. Heavy and demanding work commitments

  2. Family pressures

  3. Childcare difficulties

  4. Cost of transport

  5. Lack of confidence at speaking English

  6. Fear of teachers and schools

  7. Unsure about the reason for an invitation

  8. Letter of invitation not getting home

  9. Not able to read the written language of the letter

  10. Language of the letter is ‘formal’ and unfriendly

  11. Insufficient notice of the meeting

  12. Not knowing anyone who will be there

  13. Unsure about going out alone after dark

  14. Dislike of formal meetings

  15. Fear of being asked to do something

  16. Fear of an unwelcoming atmosphere

  17. Worried about what might be said concerning a child

  18. Fear of being held responsible for a child's lack of progress or disruptive behaviour

  19. Low self-esteem, lack of confidence

  20. Fear of being judged

  21. Not wanting to speak in public

  22. Previous commitments

  23. No faith in the school's ability to solve a problem

  24. Expecting that there will be no answer to particular problems

  25. Time limitations because of work and family

It's a long list that perhaps should be considered each time a parent or carer does not respond to an invitation or misses a meeting. Indeed, it could be increased if we thought specifically about the needs of refugee families, traveller families, children in care, and children with complex needs.

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