Changing parent perceptions of classroom practice

Involving parents more in the day-to-day learning of their children could help to change perceptions about teachers' capabilities and what they do in the classroom.

Reporting the findings of an annual survey of Australian parents, grandparents and guardians, Monash University academics Associate Professor Shane Phillipson and Associate Professor Sivanes Phillipson say 84 per cent think their child's teacher is highly educated but a smaller number don't agree. ‘The concerns of such parents are related to their belief that teachers are sometimes unable to deal with children who show signs of behavioural issues, helping their child remain focussed and the capacity of the teacher to engage their child in learning subjects such as mathematics and other skills that are considered to be the “basics”.

‘This perception could be due to parental expectations of what they think their child should know at a particular stage in their learning. … The concerns of parents could also highlight a gap in their understanding of what teachers do in the classroom.'

The 2016 study asked more than 3000 participants for their views on a range of education-related topics, including resources, homework and the greatest challenges facing their child's learning. The results are detailed in the ASG Parents Report Card 2016: Australian parents' perceptions of the state of education in Australia, released earlier this month.

‘While educators and policy makers can provide insight into the academic and political landscape of education, only parents have the ability to link the impact of home and school life with the learning success of their children,' the researchers note.

They say examples of parent perceptions include teachers being ‘bogged down' by the curriculum and not having enough time to teach the basics, differing attitudes (some are enthusiastic and encouraging and others less so), and that they don't understand every child has their own way of learning so they can't provide the right support. They say involving parents more in day-to-day learning could change such perceptions.

Parent confidence in the curriculum was high, with 84 per cent agreeing it will help their children with their future career. There was also a big tick for curriculum content and teaching quality in relation to problem solving skills (93 per cent) and computing skills (86 per cent). At the other end of the scale, 23 per cent believed the current curriculum is ‘failing to motivate their child'.

The major concerns were around social skills and wellbeing. ‘Six out of 10 (62 per cent) parents believe their child is upset easily by unexpected negative experiences, however, 49 per cent feel that their child is not taught how to manage stress at school very well.' The report adds that although 96 per cent of parents are confident their child can ask an adult for help, almost one fifth don't believe they have friends they can call on.

Away from school, survey participants were also worried about their children being distracted by technology – 73 per cent per cent of parents of secondary school students and 54 per cent of parents of primary school students believe their children are spending too much time on screen-based devices such as smartphones and tablets.

How often do you speak to parents?

What information would they like to receive about teaching and learning?

To request a copy of the ASG Parents Report Card 2016 click on the link.