New research by the Baker Dearing Educational Trust has found that 80% of parents believe the education system needs to change to reflect 21st century working Britain (surveyed from 1000 parents with teenagers at mainstream schools).
It reported that 48% of parents feel stressed about their child’s education and that most would welcome the option of a combined technical and academic education for their children. The research underlines how anxious we all are about our children’s futures.
University Technical Colleges (UTCs) are trying to change this and they offer a new model for schooling that combines academic study with more technical and practical learning for 14-18 year olds. Local employers play an active role in UTCs and there is a focus on subjects such as computer science and engineering where the UK faces skills shortages.
Baker Dearing also asked parents whose children attended UTCs how they felt about how well the school was preparing their child for the future. Nearly 70% believed their child felt more confident about getting a job.
Not all children will be technically minded but parents with children at UTCs certainly seem less anxious. As a researcher in parental engagement, and a mother myself, I recognise the findings from the research. So, what can we do to help our children make good education and career choices?
Setting aside time to talk to your child can be hugely beneficial with this, but with teenagers this can be a challenge, so here are my top tips:
1. Remember how influential you are
Parents are still the biggest influence when it comes to their children’s decisions. Friends rank high when it comes to weighing up what to do in any given scenario, but parents’ views generally trump those of the majority.
2. Choose your moment to chat
Don’t expect teens to adhere to the rules of conversation that adults consider routine. They often hate sitting still, looking you in the eye, and would rather do anything else than answer serious questions about their future plans! Choosing the right time therefore is crucial. Think about when they are at their most relaxed and happy, and gently broach the topic then.
3. Little chats rather than one long summit
Helping them with education choices is a process. One serious discussion around the dinner table won’t be sufficient. As a first step, perhaps when out and about, enjoying an activity together, gently observe what you admire most about them as individuals. By giving them this feedback, you are helping them to construct a view of themselves that is positive and life affirming, and that they can build on.
4. Nudge don't nag
Your role as parent is to ensure they are fact-finding, reflecting and revising opinions over time. As parents it can be hard to step back as they move towards a decision, but try to nudge rather than nag. They need to ‘own’ any final decision and ultimately feel that you trust their judgment.
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Our blog is a place for a range of opinions and debate on parents and their role in their schools and their children’s education. Whilst we think this debate is really important, we don’t always agree with the views being expressed.