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There has been a lot of talk recently about how schools and teachers affect a student’s learning. However, there are other factors which have an influence on a student’s success – for example the student’s home environment and parental involvement.

Parents have the potential to have a significant effect of how well a student does at school. If parents have a positive attitude about education, provide a good study environment in the home, attend parent/teacher meetings and get involved with the school, their child will benefit from this. These behaviours and attitudes will support the learning students do at school.

However, if parents have a negative attitude about education, this will makes it so much more challenging for teachers to instill in them the joy of learning. If students cannot study at home, they are more likely to fall behind. If parents develop an adversarial relationship with their child’s school and teachers, the child will suffer.

For some parents, life can be a struggle. Sometimes it can be difficult to just put food on the table and keep a roof over their heads. But even if these parents do not have time to get involved with their child’s school, an optimistic attitude about education or providing a space to do homework can improve a childs performance.

Unfortunately, in the very short stint that I did teaching in a high school, I saw daily the results of poor or absent parenting. Students who could not take books home because their siblings would tear the books up; students who were allowed to roam the streets at night, unsupervised and unprotected; students whose attitude to education was that it wasn’t necessary and that they weren’t smart enough anyway. My time spent teaching high school was one of the most sobering I have ever had. It also resulted in an overwhelming respect for the many good teachers and met, and who continue for decades to not only teach and motivate students, but do it in spite of some terrible home backgrounds.

If class sizes increase even more, students will have very little time to work one on one with teachers. However, there will be many homes where one or both parents can provide positive one on one education interactions. Perhaps this is an area which needs to be supported and resourced. If students see their parents valuing education, then perhaps this can further motivate them to succeed?

Education is not the sole responsibility of schools – if we want all of our children to do well, it is also the responsibility of parents, whanau and our wider communities. Each has a role to play in supporting and encouraging students in their success.