A study by the Royal Economic Society, to be presented this week, finds that parental effect on test results is five times that of teachers’ influence. This comes in the wake of warnings by Sir Michael Wilshaw last week that teachers were unable to properly do their own jobs because parents were expecting them to cover their own parenting skill shortfalls and to become surrogate family for the students.
Sir Michael Wilshaw said that schools had to step in to provide moral guidance because many children “grow up without the family, cultural and community values they need to thrive”.
The latest findings will respark the debate over the degree to which schools can make improvements to pupils results without support from the familial unit at home.
The study in question was led by Dr Arnaud Chevalier and analyzed data from schools in Denmark between 2002 and 2010.
“Half of the variation in test scores is attributable to shared family factors, while schools only account for 10 per cent,” it was claimed. The remaining variation was down to pupils themselves.
Researchers said the effect of families on test scores remained the same irrespective of household income.
It also revealed that the influence of parents mattered most in maths and science exams.
The problems identified suggest that a lack of home support extends beyond parents providing reading material and help understanding homework. Children are influenced by everything around them, the way their parents act, what their parents say and do, and increasingly as they spend more time ‘with’ celebrity figures how these role models act.
Mr Lightman said: “Children are faced with a lot of different role models these days, not all of which are the most positive.
“They will see examples on television or celebrity culture of people not speaking in the right way and not interacting in the way we would expect them to.
Home environments these days are often more focused around dinners in front of television, and parents too tired to enter debates with their children, beyond simply telling them to do chores or homework. It’s not hard to imagine the detrimental effect this has on children’s studies when compared with a home life centered around family dinners and discussion, where the children are encouraged to read and explore intellectual ideas.