0 – 19: Research Round-Up

Parents’/carers’ attitudes towards school

Douglas Dalziel and Kirsty Henthorne

DfES, 2005

Parents of children who truant have equally positive views about
the value of education as other parents, a new study has found.

Researchers commissioned by the Department for Education and
Skills found that almost all parents believed education was very
important to their child’s future life chances, and accepted that
they were largely responsible for making sure children attended

Some 97% parents believed a good education would help their
child to “get ahead in life”, and 93% said qualifications would
help them get a better job.

Parents also overwhelmingly believed it was mainly their job to
ensure their child attended school, though a quarter said the
school shared this responsibility with them.

Parents whose children were poor school attenders generally took
the same view of education, and parental responsibility, as other
parents. They also shared other parents’ views of what was an
acceptable reason to miss school. Almost all parents said it would
be wrong to keep a child away from school to wait for the plumber,
earn money or go shopping. Four out of five thought children should
not miss school to care for a sick relative, and 94 per cent said
missing a lesson because they did not like that subject was also

Nearly half the parents felt it was reasonable to take their
child to the doctor or dentist during school hours. Three in 10
said taking a child on holiday during term time was acceptable, but
only one in four said it was right to keep a child at home if they
were being bullied at school.

Parents also had a good understanding of their legal duties to
make sure their child goes to school, and parents whose children
were poor attenders were especially well informed.

Their children were missing school for a wide range of reasons,
often because of complex, longstanding problems. They said they
hadn’t known where to turn for help at the early stages, and wanted
written information about what parents can do if they suspect a
child is truanting.

The researchers recommend a better supply of information for
parents about improving children’s attendance at school, including
online and telephone helplines. Bullying was the main reason given
for poor attendance by some parents, and others suspected their
child was avoiding school because of bullying, although the child
was not admitting it.

Many parents were struggling with problems such as housing
trouble, debt and poor health. Although parents valued their
contact with education welfare services, the researchers suggest
that in some cases earlier support for the family from other
agencies could have also helped improve children’s school

More support from schools was also needed, and parents suggested
an attendance register taken at the start of every lesson with
someone available to call them if their child is missing.

A flexible curriculum was also helpful, and in some cases
education welfare officers had been able to arrange changes to
children’s school timetables which had improved their attendance.
Schools should routinely look at the curriculum of poor attenders,
and give children the chance to pursue more vocational

Challenging and changing racist attitudes and behaviour
in young people

Gerard Lemos 

Joseph Rowntree Foundation 2005

How effective are projects  set up to challenge and change
racist attitudes among young people? To help answer this question,
researcher Gerard Lemos surveyed the views of participants in five
projects aimed at tackling racism.

A substantial minority of young people in school-based
initiatives expressed dislike of minority groups, especially of
Asian communities, and of refugees and asylum seekers. Boys were
more likely to express these views than girls, and young people
living in multi-cultural areas were more likely than others to
dislike other ethnic groups. Their ideas had been influence by a
mixture of misunderstandings (for example, believing that members
of their local Pakistani community were likely to be terrorists),
media coverage of issues and events, the views of friends and
families, and their own experiences.

The projects seemed to have successfully influenced attitudes.
Between 40% and 60% of young people involved in the projects said
it had made them think or feel differently, and most of the rest
said they had already been aware of and opposed to racism, but some
held deeply entrenched racist views which had not changed.

One project, run by the probation service for white racist
offenders in London had  managed to influence deeply entrenched
views and behaviour.

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