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Month: September 2022

Parental engagement training for Erasmus+ mobility coordinators in Milan

Parents International was invited for the first, but it seems not the last time to an annual training held by LFEE Europe and InterActing Developing International Projects for Schools (DIPS). The training primarily focuses on Erasmus+ mobility projects, but small-scale Erasmus+ partnerships and other funding options have also been touched upon.

DIPS programmes aim to equip teachers, school leaders and coordinators of international projects at schools in various European countries with the essential tools to set-up their schools’ international strategy and boost the international dimension of their school activities, whilst ensuring these activities are sustainable. The courses provide participants with opportunities to enlarge their professional network, share good practice with colleagues and learn how to manage and implement lasting European projects.

This year’s training was held in the last week of September in Milan, Italy, and we had the opportunity to train both the group with a lot of experiences and the one with participants who were (relative) newcomers to international project work. Participants came from various EU Member States and a wide variety of education institutions from the general, academic and vocational fields.

In the parental engagement sessions we had some interesting discussuions on engaging parents in exchange programmes, and participants were happy to share their challenges, concerns as well as good and bad experiences. The most interesting outcome of most of discussions like this is that people coming from various cultural backgrounds and school systems realise they face very similar situations.

However, in the newcomer group discussion relatively soon turned to the engagement of Muslim mothers and many participants were from French public schools where all external symbols related to religion, including wear that is compulsory for believers is banned. Apart from an interesting conversation on the conflict between the regulations that are supposed to ensure the separation of State and (Catholic) Church originating in Napoleonic times and the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child ensuring freedom of religion, it was also an intercultural learning opportunity for others. Spanish participants were shocked to realise that they cannot organise exchange programmes to France due to this as some of their students would not be allowed to enter a French state school.

Lay of the Land – PHERECLOS final conference

Our Open Schooling in STEAM education Horizon 2020 project, PHERECLOS is ending soon, and the final conference, the Lay of the Land held in Bucharest, Romania on 8-9 September 2022 provided a great opportunity to explore the benefits of Open Schooling for children and society. Parents International has been leading the advocacy work, so for us the event was a forum to share what we have done during the project, the outcomes that are for future use by anybody interested in advocacy at school, municipal, national or international/EU level for Open Schooling, and to celebrate 3 years of excellent collaboration with our partners and the fantastic support received from the coordinator, KinderUni Wien.

The conference’s aim was to explore the concept of Open Schooling, discussing its advantages and how it can be incorporated into everyday school life. The aim was to identify the potential benefits of this approach so that more schools can adopt it and make a positive impact on their communities.

The PHERECLOS Consortium believes that Open Schooling as an educational approach has the potential to transform the way we think about and deliver education. The “Lay of the Land” conference offered participants everything you need to get started with Open Schooling, including inspiring speeches from pioneers in the field, practical workshops, and networking opportunities. It was a chance to learn from case studies of Open Schooling and to develop your own ideas for how this innovative approach can be used in your educational setting.

This was the first opportunity to leaf through beautiful hard copies of the project’s Opus Magnum, the PHERECLOS White Book that can support any educator or policy maker in their Open Schooling journey (including the set of Policy Recommendations we have developed for various policy levels), especially if used together with the Advocacy Toolkit for Educators and the Teacher Training Innovation Toolkit.

During the project, parental engagement was not easy, and we supported partners in it. This also gave an opportunity to discuss the topic with a larger group of interested participants, mostly not project partners in a moderated open space workshop.

As most people will always remember where they had been on 9/11, we will surely not forget that the end of PHERECLOS coincided with the end of a 70-year era as we had learnt about the death of Queen Elizabeth II during the gala dinner.

The PHERECLOS journey has been interesting and successful, with lots of difficulties, especially the ones caused by restrictions. Regardless of these obstacles, the project was highly successful, and we had reason to celebrate. It was also a bittersweet event as partners wish to collaborate in the future, continue and further develop the work done, but we are not yet sure how. We are happy to be part of this great team, and will surely work with many of them.

Parent Summit 2022 snippets

On 1-2 September, our members and partners had the opportunity to meet in the beautiful and inspiring NHOW RAI in Amsterdam for the Parent Summit 2022. Originally planned for 2021, but postponed due to difficulties for non-EU colleagues to enter the country, it was a great opportunity to take stock of what we have achieved until now, showcase our results and materials, and to look into the future. We have also received an invitation to Georgia (the country, not the USA state) and we are planning to hold the next Parent Summit there in October 2024.

The Summit was opened with two inspiring presentations. The first one was by Prof. Janet Goodall, the Chair of our Advisory Board: Parental and family engagement-what we know and where we’re going. In her presentation, she highlighted the need for major changes at school, in teacher training, but also in the society. The second keynote presentation was by Prof. Debbie Pushor who was in the Netherlands for the ERNAPE Conference as a lucky coincidence, and stayed for our event. She talked about parent efficacy in and outside of school. Both keynote speakers emphasised the importance of equal, balanced relationships between parents and teaching professionals. Both talks sparked lively discussions in the Q&A session as well as during the rest of the conference. The cut versions of both presentations can be found in our YouTube channel.

The keynote was followed by a colourful array of workshops, most of them showcasing Parents International’s work. The Summit also provided the opportunity for interested guest to participate at the multiplier event of the Parenting Together project. A number of Summit participants also took part in a focus group discussion that validated the contents of the SAILS resource we have just written for parents to support their children in navigating digital waters.

Four guest presentations by our members were also among the workshops: Judit Regős (Parents’ House, Hungary) had one on building communities of families, Maly Danino (Nitzan, Izrael) talked about parent coaching and supporting parents to become case managers of their children, Paata Amonashvili (Amonashvili Academy, Georgia) introduced their work and methods offering us the possibility to publish their papers in English for free use, and Esther Maeers (University of Regina, Canada) presented her work on parental engagement through everyday objects.

We had a solid ground to build the event on. By the Summit, Parents International has had 67 Members, with two more joining by decision of the Board, at the event. We have been able to cover 22 of the 27 EU Member States with members from another 4 European countries represented that are not EU members. We have worked hard on recruiting members from other continents, and we have members from all continents accept from Antarctica. Our membership is especially growing in Africa and Asia, but Latin America is also “catching up”.

In the past 3 years, since the previous Summit, we have worked as an independent research organisation and our work has been published in journals, invited to be presented at prestigious research conferences, and served as a basis for developing practical tools such as toolkits, trainings and policy documents. We have received EU-funding for 18 projects – most of them still ongoing – with outcomes used not only in Europe, but worldwide. It is not only our membership that is growing, but also our team – a necessity to cover the jobs ahead of us. Some Advisory Board members have also just joined project teams.

Publicly shared material of the Summit is collected on Google Drive here:

ERNAPE Nijmegen Conference report

The European Research Network about Parents in Education (ERNAPE) held its biennial conference in Nijmegen, the Netherlands at Radboud University on 29-31 August 2022. The conference was to take place in 2021, but was postponed due to restrictions in place at the university. Since there was a gap of 3 years since the previous conference, Parents International had a lot to show. Part of our Team had 4 paper presentations showcasing some of our work from the past 4 years.

ERNAPE brings together all those interested in school-family-community connections and has established a research community in which researchers with an interest in school-family-community relationships share their ideas and work, bringing their own perspective into the scientific discourse. ERNAPE has become a multidisciplinary group of researchers in this field studying parents in education by using different theoretical lenses and with a variety of research methods. Researchers with various disciplinary backgrounds employ qualitative, quantitative, and mixed-method designs, with survey studies, small scale interview studies, intervention studies, critical narrative analyses, and so forth.

The main topics that researchers were invited to submit paper and poster presentations as well as organise symposia were the following:

Theoretical issues in family-school-community partnerships:

  • Uni-disciplinary, multi-disciplinary and inter-disciplinary perspectives on parental involvement in education.
  • How critical must theory be?
  • Discussions on the ‘what works’ paradigm.

Methodological issues in research:

  • Empirical approaches to understanding parental involvement in education.
  • Empirical approaches to evaluating parental involvement in education.
  • Empirical approaches to improving parental involvement in education.

Family-school-community partnerships:

  • For inclusion and social justice.
  • In multicultural and multilingual contexts.
  • In the context of educational inequalities: are they the solution or the problem?

Further thematic areas:

  • Discussions about the concept of ‘family’ from feminist and queer theory perspectives.
  • Interventions on families, schools and communities for promising partnerships in education.
  • Connecting home and school: social media for family-school partnerships.
  • Family-school-community partnerships in a Covid-19-era.

The Parents International Team has presented the research behind ParENTrepreneurs – both the iteration towards the Competence Framework and the action research during the training pilot – , the research-base of the New Education Deal – Parents First global action, the legal research establishing the resources for both parents and school leaders in SAILS, and the series of large-scale Hungarian research studies on parents’ perceptions of Covid-19 and subsequent restrictions at school. The presentations were done by Luca László and Eszter Salamon on behalf of all other authors who could not join the event for various reasons.