Fundació Jaume Bofill Universitat Oberta de Catalunya (UOC)

Thinking about future challenges of education in Catalonia

The role of families in improving schools and the educational system

About the speaker

Annie Kidder

15/10/13 12.30 pm

Executive Director of People for Education

How did People for Education begin?

  • It has begun at a time of crisis in the educational system. The government does not believe in public education. There are cuts and school closures. There is a fierce and polarizing debate on the educational system.

  • A group of mothers and fathers, from a range of professions – not from the field of education – came together under a shared banner: they want all children to have the right to public education that guarantees equal opportunities and equity. Public education is important in forming people who will lead the country in the future.

  • The organization began with a strong desire to be independent. It looks for funding from different foundations so that it does not have to rely on the government or trade unions.

What are the tasks of People for Education?

  • Research. They believe that to be able to debate education and make proposals empirical evidence on the state of education and the effects of current educational policy is required. They started surveying all the schools in the region. They now produce general annual reports and specific subject reports on areas like special education. Universities have shown interest in these data and are now collaborating with People for Education.

  • The organization does not aim to be a pressure group, but rather a forum for dialogue. They have looked for support from the media because they feel that it is important that as many people as possible know about the debate. They make recommendations to politicians and governments.

  • They provide support to parents. Initially, they thought that mothers and fathers would be proactive if given the opportunity. However, it was seen that many families did not feel part of the system, they did not understand it and they did not understand why they had to take part in their children’s education. For this reason, stress was placed on informing parents and, above all, providing them with support with the understanding that being a parent is very complicated.

Four recommendations for families to take part in the education of their children

  1. Parents have to pass on to their children that they have high expectations of them, that they believe in their possibilities.

  2. Families have to talk to their children about school and that means doing more than just helping with their homework or marking limits if they do not do what they are supposed to. The association provides parents with a series of questions that can help start this dialogue.

  3. Develop good working habits. Children have to learn to overcome crises and difficulties, to be persistent and problem-solvers. Parents have to provide support so that they can learn to grow and be responsible.

  4. Parents should read with their children and enjoy the pleasure of reading together.

The parent-school relationship

  • Schools have to encourage communication with parents and make them realize that they are not alone. They should feel supported, rather judged.

  • Parents have to be able to make their voice heard at the school, but efforts must be made to ensure that it is not just the loudest voices being heard. The different points of view have to be taken into account.

  • A forum needs to be created where parents can meet and debate. There are very different parents and it is difficult to create a group that can represent all their opinions. Many parents do not feel the need to be proactive if they feel they do not form part of the system or if they do not have an interest in the debate.



MACBA Auditorium. Plaça de Joan Coromines, Barcelona

Interpreting service available. Free entry (no need to confirm attendance). The venue has a limited capacity.

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This Debate on Education is sponsored by Obra Social "la Caixa" and its Internationalization at Home Plan.

Obra Social "la Caixa"

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