PSAs highly valued by parents
Nearly 60 per cent of schools are now benefiting from 'parent support advisers' (PSAs) according to latest figures from the Training and Development Agency for Schools (TDA).
Following a two-year pilot scheme to test out the role, 3,469 PSAs and similar roles now support 13,261 schools in England. Their expertise is designed to bridge the gap between parents and schools.
The latest figures coincide with new research from the TDA, which suggests PSAs, and other support staff, are making a real difference in schools and are highly valued by parents. In a recent survey, the majority of parents (58 per cent) believed attempts to involve them in school life were much better than when they were at school, and over three quarters (78 per cent) believed the provision of support staff had improved.
The TDA is also encouraging headteachers to think about how they might best deploy support staff to help mothers, fathers and carers better engage with their children's learning, and to help identify and remove specific barriers to learning so that all children and young people can reach their potential.
Evidence from the official evaluation of the PSA pilot, carried out by the Centre for Educational Development, Appraisal and Research at the University of Warwick (CEDAR), supports the idea that PSAs have improved relationships between parents and schools and also suggests they have also made a difference to attendance.
PSAs provide parents with one-to-one support, which can include home visits, coffee mornings and parenting support programmes. They are able to identify the needs of pupils at an early stage and make parents aware of a wide range of local services that can offer further help and advice such as health and social care.
Graham Holley, Chief Executive of the TDA, said: "Clearly, PSAs are playing a vital role in strengthening the existing channels of communication between parents and schools. The CEDAR report demonstrates that they are a critical addition to the team of people working in and around today's schools. PSAs and similar roles help schools engage with individuals who were previously hard to reach - providing the opportunity of personalised assistance with learning and other great benefits for parents, pupils and schools."
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