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Failure of schools to engage with fathers holds back children's education



Craig Whittaker MP chaired a roundtable discussion on Tuesday, 10th May 2011 in Portcullis House at which representatives from the public sector, Ofsted and charities raised the issue of the exclusion of fathers from children’s education. 


Organized jointly by Families Need Fathers and the Fatherhood Institute, the meeting discussed the latest research evidence on the benefits of an involved father in children’s education, the barriers currently preventing schools from engaging with fathers effectively, and strategies to promote stronger partnerships between schools and fathers. 


Adrienne Burgess, Head of Research at the Fatherhood Institute, presented compelling research findings that the children of fathers who play an active role in their education are likely to attain higher academic qualifications, be better behaved and report greater enjoyment of school than those with unengaged fathers, even controlling for income, social class, and parents’ educational background. 


However, schools regularly fail to include fathers in their children’s education. It is a particular issue for separated fathers who often struggle even to obtain their children’s school reports or find out about parents’ nights and school events. Schools often assume without reason that fathers do not want to play an active role in their children’s education, and rarely address them directly. This is despite evidence that 70% of fathers who live with their children, and 81% of those who do not, want to be more involved in their children’s education. 


Craig Whittaker MP said, “The best solution of course is always the participation of both parents in a child’s education. However there is compelling evidence which shows the attainment levels of children dramatically increases when fathers are involved through school and at home. Sadly schools don’t recognize this and often inadvertently exclude fathers because of the way in which most communication is geared towards the mother. A very simple way of changing this mindset would be by changing the language everybody seems to use. Instead of ‘Parents and Carers’ why can’t we talk about ‘Mothers, Fathers and Carers’ This very simple change, particularly in Ofsted reports, would facilitate Head Teachers and their Management teams to reassess how they simply communicate and involve Fathers.”


Alex Borchardt said, “Families Need Fathers believes that Ofsted can play a crucial role in this process, and that ‘parental engagement’ should consider both mothers and fathers respectively. What is clear is that if we do not take action to address these issues, many children will continue to be denied the benefits of a father’s involvement in the education process.”





For comment, case studies or information please contact:


Ross Jones, Acting Director of Policy and Research 020 7613 5060

Alex Borchardt, Acting CEO 07920 131 778

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