Welsh education: Making the grade? The parents' role

Ysgol y Foryd holds a range of regular classes for parents and pupils together.

Standards of teaching inside our schools are, understandably, under a great deal of scrutiny - but the role parents play in their children's learning can be forgotten.

Ysgol y Foryd in Kinmel Bay, Conwy has won acclaim for the way it involves parents in school life, putting on classes where they work side-by-side with their children, with real benefits for the pupils' confidence and ultimately, their performance.

Watch Tom Sheldrick's report from the school:

Pupils and parents at Ysgol y Foryd:

Nearly half of the pupils at Ysgol y Foryd have additional learning needs - many come into reception with speech difficulties, for example.

TJ Chambers was often badly behaved when he started school - so he and his mother work with the Pets As Therapy Scheme, reading with and being gentle to, visiting dogs.

Families have a say in the way school is run, through a parents' forum, and a family liaison office helps to improve attendance.

There are also classes where parents come in to work alongside their children, on anything from computer skills, to crafts or health eating.

Adiba Al-Aioubi and her family arrived in North Wales a year ago, after fleeing the civil war in Syria. She takes part in a weekly exercise session with her son Alaalden, who is in Year 2 at the school.

Adiba says she and her son get ideas from the exercise classes, and enjoy spending time together.

The infant school says pupils whose parents play an active role in the learning perform at a level higher by the end of the Foundation Phase, at age seven.

Georgia Penrose is in Year 2, and getting on well. Her parents both work, but find time to come into school for classes, and do a lot of extras with her at home - from reading to art and using the computer.

David and Jackie say they place value in education with Georgia, and there's a natural progression from school to home.

Placing value in education:

Most parents live busy lives and simply won't be able to attend regular classes at school time. But engaging in children's learning can come in many other ways.

NIACE, a lifelong learning charity, says: "parental engagement has a large and positive impact on children’s learning, giving children greater confidence and self-belief, with measurable benefits to their literacy, language and numeracy skills."

However, schools watchdog Estyn found that "only a significant minority of schools employ a broad enough range of strategies to engage parents in the learning of their children."

The Welsh Government's has launched a campaign called 'Education Begins at Home' to try to show how parents can make a real difference to their children's learning, from doing things as simple as making sure they get a good night's sleep.

On a broader scale, experts have pointed to the importance of parents - and others - placing more value in the importance of education, and academic achievement.

Wales has proud traditions around education dating back to the 19th century - but international rankings suggest there is now not much to shout about.

Analysing the global PISA rankings, academic David Egan said a cultural shift was needed in Wales, and we need to follow the lead of the South East Asian countries at the top of the list by having everyone "buy into" the importance of educational achievement.