The Ontario government’s new Parent Involvement Policy will soon make it easier for all parents to participate in their child’s education and future success, Minister of Education Gerard Kennedy today announced.
“Parents play a vital role in the development and education of their children and in the success of schools,” said Kennedy. “We know that good schools are even better when they have engaged and involved parents – we’re setting the table for more parent participation to help reach our ambitious goals for student achievement.”
Research shows increased parent involvement results in improved student achievement, reduced absenteeism, better behaviour and more confidence in children. The new provincial policy will reinforce parent involvement as a new performance measure to be expected of the publicly funded education system.
“Parents are the most important influence in a child’s life outside of school. We’re making it easier for busy parents to get involved in their child’s education,” said Kathleen Wynne, Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Education. “At the same time, we believe that success in education is a shared responsibility and the new parent involvement policy will also
benefit teachers, principals and trustees.”
The policy, supported by a $5.2 million investment, will help create a more welcoming environment for parents in the education system. For the first time, all parents will be asked to become involved to some extent and parent organizations will be given a direct say over parent related resources at the local, regional and provincial level. New resources include:
– A new school council outreach and grant program for special local
initiatives to reach parents who may find involvement more challenging
due to language, recent immigration, poverty and newness to the system
– New grants for projects that support parent involvement at the local
and regional level
– Regional parent forums with the Minister of Education
– A new Parent Advisory Board composed of and representing parents
– Ongoing support for provincial parent organizations
– New communication tools including a parent website portal, e-network
and new parent handbook
– A provincial Parent Engagement Office and Ministry of Education
regional offices will assume the role of mobilizing parents
The policy lays out requirements for the Minister of Education, the ministry, school board, schools and their staff to create conditions, attitudes and supports for parents to engage in their child’s education.
According to a 2002 survey, out of the estimated 2.3 million parents of children in publicly funded schools, only 16 per cent of parents consider themselves active at schools. Another survey shows that nearly half would become involved if asked.
The new Parent Engagement Policy is based on the recommendations of the Parent Voice in Education Project (PVEP). Last December, Kennedy established PVEP, consisting of a cross-section of 20 parent leaders representing all regions of the province. Members were given the task of providing recommendations on how to establish an effective provincial voice for parents and greatly improve the number of parents active in education. The group consulted widely with other Ontario parents. Eleven public meetings were held in eight communities and the final recommendations were based on over 1,150 submissions from parents and parent organizations.
“The new Policy is a testament to the hard work of PVEP and dedicated parents across the province,” said Gabrielle Blais, PVEP chair. “It recognizes the needs of parents and is a critical step necessary in opening up education in Ontario.