Schools take on the Manchester challenge

The challenge has been introduced by Department for Children, Schools and Families, with the Department also supporting seven schools in each local authority area to achieve the LPPA Award. The programme launched in April 2008 builds on the experience of the London Challenge, which has had a major impact on raising standards in schools in the most deprived parts of the capital.

The Greater Manchester Challenge (GMC) has been running for over a year with hundreds of schools from across the region already involved. A strand of the challenge includes, parental engagement which is being delivered in part by Prospects Services Leading Parent Partnership Award programme. Evidence shows that parental engagement outstrips every other single factor including social class, ethnicity and disability and its impact on attainment. The Manchester Challenge has developed a number of programmes to support parental engagement in schools and learning.

The Leading Parent Partnership Award programme developed by Prospects Services, one of the UK’s leading providers of services to the education and skills sector, is recognised by Department for Children, Schools and Families (DCSF) as the quality standard that aims to strengthen and enhance the relationship between parents, children and schools.

Like the Heaton St Barnabas C of E Primary School, in Bradford, which achieved the award at the start of February, 2010, schools taking part in the GMC Challenge need to attain a number of outcomes. Heaton St Barnabas challenged their teaching staff to develop new ideas each term, which assisted the primary school in achieving the Award. Teaching staff put into practice ideas such as: an information booklet for parents, an invitation to sharing learning, workshops to help parents support their child’s learning and activities that involved parents and children working together. This culminated in an overall extensive range of opportunities for parental engagement.

Margaret Booth, Prospects Programme Director, who is leading the Greater Manchester Challenge programme for Prospects, said: GMC local advisers have approached the LPPA programme with great enthusiasm and commitment, and we are working closely together to ensure that LPPA learning and good practice will be shared widely across the ten Local Authorities that are supporting their schools in achieving the Award.

From April 2010, the Black Country Challenge will join the LPPA programme; starting with a twenty school pilot and training for the remaining schools involved in the challenge, these schools will also receive a free copy of the LPPA toolkit, which launched in November 2009.

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