In one of the workshops at the last General Assembly of EPA the Irish example was presented and the participants discussed their national experiences.
Deirdre Sullivan from the Irish National Parents' Council Primary (NPC-P) presents the programs established in Ireland. She explains that a change of approach has taken place from a more passive role of the organization waiting for parents to approach them to an active role going out to meet the parents and to try to empower and support all of them.
Their services include:
- a helpline: Monday through Friday by two helpline-officers (telephone + e-mail); originally for parents but actually also used by teachers and students;
- 7 different programs with professional trainers to support and empower parents; every session is evaluated; information about the trainings is distributed through the county branches;
- general information session for setting up an association: What is (not) their role within the school.
- only for PA committee:
1st part: questions about size of school, number of teachers, composition of pupils’ group;
2nd part: explanations: parental involvement at home and at school;
goal: create a positive attitude towards the child’s learning; bring research results to parents;
- for the whole school community: include the board of management and the external community
goal: get away from mainly fund-raising
Results of parents’ involvement have proven to have a positive impact on children’s performance:
- higher grades
- better school attendance
- increased motivation
- lower rates of suspension
- decreased use of drugs and alcohol
- fewer instances of behavior
Statements on the situation in different countries:
There are parents’ representatives elected in each class, who form a parents’ committee but they’re not necessarily part of the parents’ association which is an organization apart.
3 times a year individual parent – teacher meetings are held (approx. 10 – 15 min)
2 – 3 class parents’ meetings are organized
Real and effective communication depends on proper training of teachers and parents. Where communication works well children do better at school, the atmosphere is better even though sometimes teachers consider that there is too much parental involvement.
70% of schools are non-state-schools but run by the community as there is a law for every school to have a participation council. Parents therefore co-decide on an important number of issues.
Focus is however shifting to including parents of younger children as the first seven years of a child are the most influential ones for the future development. Programs for parents with children from one year up are therefore being developed.
Has no parents’ associations as yet but there are parents representatives in each class who also form a parents council but they are mainly seen as fundraisers or participants in school celebrations.
Similar situation as in Croatia
80% of schools are state-run
20% run privately, mostly by catholic church, but recognized by the state
In the latter case parents’ involvement is higher, because of the explicit choice of a private school where fees have to be paid.
30% private schools
10 different federations of parents’ associations – no common line of action.
The councils at school have 4 representatives of each group involved (4 parents, 4 teachers, 4 pupils).
Most federations offer training programs for parents.
Parents’ representatives are elected in each class. They form the committee of the parents’ association. The committee elects and sends 3 members to the school council where there are also 3 elected teachers as well as 3 elected pupils.
There are several federations of parents associations on regional and on national level for the public and the private sector, the latter being rather small in Austria.
Training is organized for parents by the federations according to their possibilities.
Prepared by: Arja Krauchenberg