In the third and last year of the European Education Policy Network on Teachers and School Leaders (EEPN) has just published its research on this year’s rather complex topic: Teachers and school leaders towards a sustainable whole school approach for quality and inclusive education. As it was the case in the previous years, researchers have chosen some Parents International Projects as inspiration for teachers and school leaders, and we are proud to share this.
Our Parent’R’Us mentoring programme- parents mentoring not only peers, but also teachers – has been highlighted by two research teams, one working on the topic of “A whole school support and networking to ensure school success for all” and “A whole school approach for sustainable development, with a particular focus on the role and competences of school leaders to support the implementation of it”.
The first paper puts a major general emphasis on the need to increase participatory dimensions for a well-working whole school approach that is based on a new ethos coming from innovative perspectives. The programme is evaluated as highly relevant in the field of assuming the whole school approach principles, offering solutions for challenges related to it, and in promoting participation. Parent’R’Us is highlighted as an inspiration to ensure that successful whole school approaches are based on relationships between teachers and parents that have to be bidirectional – not only from parents to teachers. It is also highlighted that this programme can be utilised by the school to proactively organise stakeholders’ meetings, and for creating a team spirit and working in the same direction among all the stakeholders. The need to acknowledge non-academic type of knowledge, including parent knowledge is also emphasised.
In the tentative policy recommendations derived from Parent’R’Us, it is highlighted that
“The relationship between parents and teachers is a key issue for implementing a whole school approach. Governments should facilitate conditions for parents to participate at school and build up a shared ethos with teachers in terms of school project.” and
“A whole school approach requires teachers’ intercultural and inclusive awareness, as a way to strengthen their sense of belonging to their schools. More training and more mentoring processes should be implemented by educational administrations to foster this dimension.”
The second paper on education for sustainable development (ESD) indicates that the learning for education policy on teachers and school leaders should acknowledge that “an equal partnership between the main educators of children – parents and teachers – is essential for sustainable increase in learning outcome. This often needs educators to broaden their horizon and learn more about diversity, a basis for sustainability. Such partnerships are key enablers of better learning. In the case of the programme, the main target groups are teachers and vulnerable groups at high risk of or already living in poverty. This kind of collaboration can lead to a better understanding of the importance of the non-green elements of ESD.”
Advocacy tools in PHERECLOS have also been included in the ESD paper as inspiration emphasising that “advocacy, a consistent and evidence-based approach to advocate for – in this case – ESD programmes is an essential tool for successful implementation. While general legislative frameworks may already provide for such programmes, there are some elements of other education legislation or policy that may prevent successful implementation. The most important factors to review and advocate for are:
- Proper financial provisions
Additionally, having a whole school approach needs to be advocated for, especially to ensure that non-formal providers and community actors are part of implementation.”
ParENTrepreneurs is the third Parents International programme that researchers have found relevant on this complex topic. The research team has highlighted that “educators need to consistently develop their own skills in order to foster skills development. When it comes to 21st century skills – including resilience, critical thinking, active participation that are key to ESD and offered in this programme, trainings for professional educators and parents can be fully or nearly identical (especially in light of finding in a previous EEPN research paper (Verboon-Salamon 2021). During the implementation, it became clear that the competence framework is relevant for educators from different parts of Europe, and educators working in highly different education systems and realities still have similar needs. Thus, European approaches are relevant and useful regardless of the diversity of education systems.”
Last but not least, some partner project Parents International recommended for the research team have also been chosen as inspiration. The Brookings Playbook on Family-School Engagement is chosen to illustrate that “by providing evidence-based strategies from around the world and other hands-on tools that school leaders and partners can adopt and use in their local contexts, it aims to help leapfrog education inequality so that all young people can have a 21st-century education.
It is clear from research that the expectations towards education systems are shifting with both parents and teachers shifting towards a focus on active citizenship and social-emotional learning, while both groups believe that the other wishes to focus on academic achievement. Thus, for real reform proper communication, based on equal partnership is essential.
The playbook shows that family-school engagement — namely the collaboration between the multiple actors, from parents and community members to teachers and school leaders — has an important role to play in improving and transforming education systems to achieve four main goals:
- Improve the attendance and completion of students,
- Improve the learning and development of students,
- Redefine the purpose of school for students,
- Redefine the purpose of school for society.”
Dragonfly shows that
- “- Teachers are eager to find good quality material for ecological topics largely missing from traditional textbooks, but relevant for their students. Good quality means a) content supervised by recognised experts, b) age appropriate;
- Arts – in this case literature and graphics – is a successful vehicle to convey related messages, but it is also important that quality is ensured by professional art editors;
- Creative thinking and artistic expression tasks foster skills related to sustainable thinking, and children happily engage in them;
- Teachers need training and support material to foster learning about topics related to ecology.”
COVIDEA, based on “experiences of school closure periods and the increased use of digital technology has highlighted the need to have a broader view on the needs of the different players of the learning process in the digital environment, and when exploring the requirements for the digital age, skills and competences such as resilience, active citizenship, critical and ethical thinking, and social-emotional learning are to be given more weight than digital technical skills. These are essential for ESD.”
You can download all four research papers from here: https://educationpolicynetwork.eu/research/research-year-three/ and disseminate them to your audiences.