Parent-teacher relationships to be reset, for the benefit of pupils’ social skills, screen time, and mental health

  • Schools are looking to reset relationships with parents, post-lockdowns and home-schooling, with the partnership needing rebalancing for the benefit of pupils
  • New research finds that school staff worry about pupils’ ability to interact face-to-face (67 per cent), and their screen time (76 per cent), as they return to the classroom
  • Working in partnership with parents to support pupils overcome these new challenges is essential, yet almost two in five (38 per cent) of staff had concerns about parents’ willingness to do so


Schools and parents need to work together to rebalance their relationship as pupils adjust back to life in the classroom, new research1 from the Independent Association of Prep Schools (IAPS) and Tooled Up Education reveals.


Lockdown and home-schooling gave many parents the opportunity to be more hands on than ever before with their children’s education, however IAPS and Tooled Up Education found that a quarter (25 per cent) of school staff say that working with parents on home-schooling has been stressful.


Post-lockdowns and home-schooling, more than three quarters (76 per cent) of school staff worry about pupils’ screen time, and more than two thirds (67 per cent) agree that the lack of in-person interactions pupils have had with peers has been detrimental to their social skills and, amongst younger children, their emotional development.


Whether parents or teachers are responsible for certain aspects of a child’s development, such as financial education, has long been a topic of debate. Questions are now being raised about who should take ownership for the behaviours children have learnt – or not learnt – over the past 18 months, as a result of being stuck at home and indoors.


School staff confident discussing issues with colleagues but not necessarily parents


Overall, more than two thirds (70 per cent) of school staff worry about the mental health of pupils as they return to the classroom. While staff are confident discussing these issues with their colleagues and heads, almost half (49 per cent) lack confidence discussing them with parents.


Around two thirds (64 per cent) of school staff say that they would like additional training to support pupils with mental health and wellbeing concerns. Almost two in five (38 per cent), however, had concerns about the willingness of parents to work with them to overcome these new challenges.


Christopher King, CEO, IAPS commented: “Lockdown took its toll on everyone, but for younger children, it was a crucial stage in life for the development of their social skills and learning about their emotions. Schools and parents must rebalance their relationship, allowing teachers to effectively take back control of teaching, and parents and teachers to work together to address new challenges.


“Parents need to support schools with the development of skills and management of behaviours that cross the school and home boundary. We must break down the barriers and concerns expressed by teachers and school staff, so that they can talk openly with parents to address and help manage these new issues together. At the same time, schools need to step up and support their teachers and staff, whether that be with additional training or dedicated teams to step in when worries or concerns are raised.”


Dr Kathy Weston, CEO, Tooled Up Education commented: “Never before has the quality of the home-school partnership mattered more, and staff need to feel as confident as possible when engaging with, and supporting, parents, and carers. The experience of the pandemic is an opportunity for all schools to recalibrate the home-school partnership. It is a chance to redefine the respective roles of parents and teachers and ensure they are aligned in helping to protect each child’s mental health and emotional resilience. 


“Our wider research shows that when it comes to mental health, early intervention is key. Staff and parents need to be equipped to recognise early ‘red flags’ and address them using the most up-to date and evidence-based approaches. This is particularly important with younger children where support early on can reduce the risk of more complex mental health needs as a teenager.”