Using Parkrun to build resilience and engagement

14 January 2018

Author: Niki Kaiser and Sam Phillips

This post links to an interview I recorded with Sam Phillips, a teacher from Norwich, who regularly runs the Junior Parkrun with his pupils and their parents. You can listen to it here.

When I first met Sam Phillips, we were both running the Junior Parkrun on a Sunday morning. I’d seen Sam there many times before, and he was always surrounded by happy, smiling children and their parents. You could tell that he’s the kind of person with a knack of encouraging others, and making them feel like they can do well. He’d run around the park with them all, chivvying them on, and then he’d spend time chatting to their parents afterwards. So I was really looking forward to meeting him and finding out more about what he’s been doing, and what he wants to do in the future.

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Sam would really like to find a way of using the Parkrun to help increase parental engagement with the school where he works. To remove perceived barriers, and to get those parents who might not otherwise spend time inside the school to work alongside their children. Sam is a teacher at West Earlham Junior School, a co-educational two-form entry school for children 7-11 years old, woth above national average number of pupil premium children (currently 61%), and a high percentage of children with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND). The school is working to improve aspirations, attainment and self-esteem of the pupils and their families.

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The EEF toolkit states that parental involvement is consistently associated with pupils’ success at school, but the evidence about how to increase involvement to improve attainment is currently mixed and inconclusive. This is particularly the case for disadvantaged families. The association between parental involvement and a child’s academic success is well established, but rigorous evaluation of approaches to improve learning through parental involvement is more sparse. Furthermore, there is some confusion as to what parental involvement actually looks like, with different stakeholder groups understanding “parental engagement” in different ways, although it is clear from research that the greatest benefit is derived from parental engagement with children’s learning.

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In a literature review by Deforges and Abouchaar, they outline “spontaneous” parental involvement, which might include:

  •  at home pre-school good parenting providing for security, intellectual stimulation and a good self concept
  •  at home enduring modelling of constructive social and educational aspirations and values relating to personal fulfillment and good citizenship
  •  contacting the child’s teacher to learn about the school’s rules and procedures, the curriculum, homework, assessment and the like
  •  visits to school to discuss issues and concerns as these arise
  •  participation in school events such as fêtes
  •  working in the school in support of teachers (for example in preparing lesson materials, supervising sports activities) and otherwise promoting the school in the community
  •  taking part in school management and governance

And they find that the degree of parental involvement is:

  •  strongly related to family social class: the higher the class the more the involvement
  •  strongly related to the level of mothers’ education: the higher the level of maternal educational qualification the greater the extent of involvement
  •  diminished by material deprivation, maternal psychosocial ill health, and single parent status
  •  diminishes and changes form as children get older
  •  strongly influenced by the child’s attainment: the greater theattainment, the greater the degree of involvement
  •  strongly influenced by the child: children take a very active role in mediating between parents and schools
  • influenced to some degree by the ethnic culture of the family

Listen to what Sam is doing with pupils and parents, and what he plans to do, here.

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Posted on 14 January 2018
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