School advisers set to aid parents

STEVE DOWNES Scores of advisers at schools across Norfolk are there to “support” parents, not “check up on them”, education chiefs said last night.

STEVE DOWNES

Scores of advisers at schools across Norfolk are there to “support” parents, not “check up on them”, education chiefs said last night.

The reassurance came as the county council revealed for the first time the provisional list of 93 schools where the parent support advisers will be working for the next 18 months.

They are part of a government pilot project to attempt to reduce truancy and bad behaviour in schools, and to improve the relationship between parents and school staff.

The advisers, who are in the process of being appointed to work at a host of clusters of schools across Norfolk, will attempt to befriend parents and give them informal advice.

Last night, Fred Corbett, Norfolk County Council's deputy director of children's services, said he believed the advisers would be able to offer crucial help in the “challenging” role of parenting.

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He said: “They're not part of a system of checking up on

parents. We all know that parenting is challenging. What you experience when your children are young is different when they change school, become ill, become teenagers or first fall in love.

“We want to build up infrastructure where we have the highest level of confidence in parenting. Some people feel 'if

only I had someone to talk to or to give me advice'.”

Mr Corbett was also pleased that Norfolk had been chosen as one of the pilot areas - in the wake of complaints that the government often favoured cities and urban areas.

“We want parents to understand how they can get their children involved in their learning. In a way, behaviour and attendance quite often go side by side.

“But the last thing this is going to be is people snooping around parents' homes. This is a service where we have to build up the trust together - where parents feel there's another adult who is seen as a supporter.”

He added: “For all these national trial runs, we always complain that the government looks at cities and urban areas too much. Norfolk has an interesting geography, with areas of high social need, areas that are quite affluent, pleasant rural areas and pleasant city areas, challenging areas.

“Having something in a large rural area is an important way to challenge the approach. They want that spread of participants.

“They are also confident that we will deliver, because of our track record.”

He said that the advisers

would help parents address some

of the more difficult issues across Norfolk - including truancy,

poor attendance and bad

behaviour.