Helping to Involve Families
The teaching staff at a Pupil Referral Unit (PRU)- a provision for pupils who have been permanently excluded from a school – were wishing to undertake some activities to involve parents. They had sent a questionnaire to parents and asked for ideas. The most popular request that came back was for a parenting course that was designed specifically for parents who had older children who were more challenging than usual. The parents had commented that many of the courses were aimed at younger children. The staff then asked the Educational Psychologists to deliver such a course.
‘collaboration enhances change’
Two educational Psychologists set about putting together a bespoke course over 6 weeks in the evenings at the PRU, making use of their knowledge and a combination of available effective resource materials. The parents came from all over the Local Authority, some taking two buses and enduring a long walk from the bus station on a cold wet Tuesday evening for the first class. The staff from the PRU greeted them with hot drinks and home-made biscuits. After the initial introductions and an exploration of ‘best hopes’ it became clear to the Educational Psychologists that the people sitting before them had many skills and strengths and much knowledge to share, although all wanted to learn more. In that first session, the original training plans were abandoned in favour of a cooperative approach where the principle of ‘collaboration enhances change’ was used to guide learning through interactive workshops. Techniques such as ‘solution circles’, where the whole group offered strategies to given scenarios, were used alongside a time for reflection and structured non-judgemental discussion. The end product was an interactive booklet that was a practical and thoughtful guide for parents of older, more challenging pupils.