Help your child do well - Dr Katy Simmons, Chairman of Governors at Cressex School, offers some advice.

If you have children who are pupils at a secondary school, you are likely to find life at home a bit stressful over the next few weeks, as your children prepare for exams. The results of those exams, especially for pupils in year 11, who are taking their GCSEs, could have a very big effect on the rest of their lives. How can you help your child do as well as possible?


The government has already told us that by 2010, 80% of jobs will need young people to have at least 5 or more good passes at GCSE. Not having those 5 good passes will mean that young people have fewer opportunities and fewer options. It is already important to have 5 good passes, if young people want to stay into school Sixth Forms, go to college or go into further training. With the credit crunch it is important that your child has the qualifications to secure a training place or a place in a college.


In Buckinghamshire, exam results are very good and schools are rightly proud of their successes. But not all children are scoring as well as they can. Some of us are very concerned that pupils of Asian heritage are not doing as well as they should be doing. White pupils in Buckinghamshire score very well indeed at GCSE - over two thirds of them finish Year 11 with qualifications good enough to take them into sixth forms, further education or professional training. This is not so for Asian pupils. Only one third of them leave with the qualifications they need. So there is a big gap between the two groups of young people.


You may be asking, ‘What can I do?’ You are interested in your children and go to meetings at school to discuss their work. You need to keep on doing that - ask questions, make sure you understand how much homework they have to do, give young people lots of encouragement. Make sure they know that you understand how important their school work is.


If you can’t help them directly yourself, encourage them to go to extra study groups at school – sometimes these are held after school or in the holidays. Make sure that if your child is using the internet, they are not just playing games but looking at the revision sites. Their school probably has its own web site and on that website there are all sorts of helpful sections that will help them revise.

Encourage them to contact their teachers for extra help, or go down to the town library with them to use reference books and access the internet.


You might also want to talk about education with your local County and District Councillors and your local MP, Paul Goodman. Tell them that you are concerned about the gap in achievement between white and Asian pupils. Why does that gap exist? How can they help? What plans do they have to support Asian children in doing as well as other children? Ask them to ask questions at County Hall in Aylesbury. Follow up their answers.


You might also want to become a school governor - every school must have parent governors. Being a governor is quite a bit of work but you don’t need special qualifications. You just need to have some time, be interested in children and keen to help schools. Contact your child’s school to ask if they have any vacancies for governors. If you don’t want to be a governor yourself, find out who the governors are at your child’s school, especially the parent governors. Ask about the school’s future plans, ask how you can help, maybe with fundraising or parent groups. You might want to find out more about the work of the Muslim Parents Association – what issues are they discussing? Join in - your voice is important.


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