Parents play an important role in school life

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Parents play an important role in school life

Capcoch Primary School, Rhondda Cynon Taf, has outstanding parental engagement. Through adult learning, better communication and community events, parents have become more involved and their voice has grown. As a result, attendance has risen, standards have improved and parents have taken part in fundraising for the school.

Number of pupils: 134
Age range: 3 - 11 years
Date of Estyn inspection: February 2013

Context and background to sectorleading practice

Capcoch Primary School is in Abercwmboi, in the Cynon Valley between Aberdare and Mountain Ash.The school has seven classes including two specialist classes for pupils across the authority. One is for hearing impairment and the other for pupils with speech and language difficulties. Twenty per cent of pupils have additional learning needs and a very few pupils have a statement of special educational need. Around 40% of pupils are entitled to free school meals. This is above local and national averages and has risen steadily in the last four years. There are currently 134 upils in e school. English is the main home language of most pupils. Capcoch Primary is a Community First area with 90% of its families lying beneath the line of poverty. The headteacher was appointed in September 2009 and the deputy headteacher in September 2012. 

Capcoch Primary school identified a need to break down barriers between the school and families. They wanted to encourage parents to play an active part in the life of the school and take a close interest in their child’s education.

The school wished to improve parents’ perceptions of school life and help raise educational aspirations.

The key was developing a strategy to envelop trust and build relationships. This was established by initiating family outreach and support, adult learning classes, the running of a wealth of after school provision including holiday activities, parenting and community projects. Reaching out to families allowed our school to work in partnership with parents and look at any schooling issues a pupil might have in a different light.

Nature of strategy or activity identified as sector-leading practice

We encouraged families to enroll in school based adult learning programmes such as Literacy, Numeracy, ICT and parenting skills. We felt it was important to get parents back to the working environment and hoped this would help them encourage their children and raise their own personal aspirations.

Capcoch school offers programmes to develop skills such as how to live healthily, cooking, mnutrition, internet safety mand generalm parenting skills.m In conjunction with these courses, the school inroduced a breakfast club that had a positive impact on attendance and punctuality. The school also offers specific interventions focused on the whole family that include after school clubs and evening classes. 

The school discussed with parents the best way to identify and incorporate their views in shaping the direction of the school. This created new opportunities to extend invitations for parents or carers to meet on a regular basis to discuss arange of school topics and offer their opinions. It was an ideal opportunity to seek the views of parents and develop a stronger partnership with them. In general this process helped:

  • develop and improve a dialogue between  parents and school;
  • the school continue to make improvements;
  •  improve staff awareness of the needs of the pupils; and
  • raise the profile of the school in the wider community.

As a result of this work, a group of parents formed ‘The Friends of Capcoch Primary’. This group acts as a critical friend of the school and continues to work tirelessly to raise funds and offer their views as parents. The school has gained a reputation in the community for being open and very flexible in their approach to communicating with parents. 

Parental engagement has become a priority in the school. Members of staff ensure that parents are involved as an integral part of theirchild’s learning and that their views inform school improvement arrangements. 

The uses of new technologies for communicating with parents has become a focus and we continue to look for ways to improve this. The school now has Twitter, Facebook, Blog and moodle pages as well as the more traditional methods of communication. The school provides an option to choose the method of information delivery that parents prefer. As with other aspects linked to this initiative this is identified through giving parents a voice. It is something they can be part of and helps us to improve as a school.

Impact on provision and learners’ standards

This work has had a positive impact on standards and the wellbeing of our pupils.

  • Standards have improved, especially at KS 2 and our results place us above the average for our family in mathematics, English and science.
  • Improved communication with parents has led to a level of involvement not witnessed at the school before. Parents wanted to be involved in the running of the school with nominations for governors rising by 50%.
  • The Friends of Capcoch grew and parents actively began raising funds for resources to equip the school.
  • The training of staff to improve pupils’ language through play saw more involvement with parents at pre school. This has led to improved attendance.
  • Attendance at parental evenings and other activities such as concerts, open days and sports days has improved significantly. This added involvement and participation has made an impact on standards across the school.
  • When questioned, parents have a positive attitude towards the school and actively engage with the school to make it better.
  • Attitudes towards attendance have changed and attendance has improved from 88% to 92.5%. 
  • All parents attending parental learning classes achieved at least a GSCE grade C in numeracy.