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Primary>Parental Involvement

Parental Involvement

‘Educating pupils with English as an additional language is not a one-way process. Schools have much to gain from the experiences and understandings of pupils, their families and communities. Drawing on their funds of knowledge enriches a school in a range of valuable ways’ (Aiming High: Ethnic Minority Pupils in Mainly White Schools, May 2004).

Many parents are fluent bilinguals and can provide excellent support for their child. Either one or both parents may have enough knowledge of English to understand what is being taught in the curriculum and can, therefore, support the pupil in their home language.

Home-school links

Set up a two-way diary between home and school for new arrivals. Use this to inform parents about:

  • what is going on in school, change in routines, new events;

  • how the child is coping and to praise the child's achievements;

  • questions that may arise about the child during the day;

  • the following week’s class topics and new vocabulary the child may need to prepare for these;

  • specific help with homework.

If the child is literate in the home language, ask the parents to supply a bilingual dictionary.  

A few days after the initial meeting, invite new parents into the class to see the type of activities taking place. Provide opportunities for them to ask further questions. English schooling may be very different from that experienced in their own country and parents are often anxious and uncertain about school routines.

Parents who are bilingual

  • translate key instructions for beginners in English such as those in Forms/Resources section of this website. If the relevant translation is not available, the English version can be sent home for translation;

  • translate class work written in L1 (the first language). This enables pupils to produce valid written work and actively helps in the learning of English;

  • discuss forthcoming class topics and the new vocabulary the child needs to understand;

  • translate key words on worksheets or in word-books. Translated subject-specific vocabulary is vital in class and makes the curriculum more accessible.


Parents who don't speak English

  • they should continue to develop the home language by reading to the pupil, sharing books, telling stories;

  • wherever possible discuss class work in the pupil’s L1;

  • explain meanings of key vocabulary using a dual language dictionary. The pupil will need to show the word to the parent in English while the parent responds in L1.
Parents are a valuable source of cultural information
  • to write words in L1 for class displays, for example;

  • provide information, pictures and cultural artefacts from country of origin.

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