Strengthening the school


The conversation begins with a question for Rebecca Winthrop, senior fellow and director of the Center for Universal Education at the Brookings Institution. She was in Colombia, invited by Red Papaz, to talk about the family-school relationship.

-What are the specific benefits of a good school-family relationship?

“There are many. It can substantially improve academic and learning outcomes for students, as well as the sense of belonging to the school and the socio-emotional learning and well-being of teachers.”

In that sense, let’s see a successful experience in a public school in Manizales, which coincides with what was expressed by the expert:

Teacher María tells: “We had a student who lived with his father, but he went to work in a municipality and left him alone for many days, almost abandoned. Seeing this, we asked the ICBF for help and contacted a sister of the boy. She took custody of the student, she always showed interest in cooperating with the school. For example, the little boy had no health service in Manizales. She took care of him and managed to get him covered with health. When working in the educational community these results can be achieved. We have other parents who have allowed themselves to be supported and their children have been able to continue their studies. The child is improving his school performance.

Another question mark for Winthrop:

-What consequences can the family be away from school?

“When families do not have a close relationship with the school, it is the students who are affected. This is because schools are often not welcoming places for vulnerable students and families. The lack of trusting relationships with families, especially the most vulnerable, means that barriers to student learning continue to stand in their way.”

Here’s a failed casein the same educational institution:

Teacher María says that they noticed that a student was doing poorly with her grades. Therefore, the case was reported to the Rectory. “It was decided to talk to the mother. She was asked to request a psychological consultation with the EPS in search of knowing what was happening with her and at home. All in search of accompanying and solving. The lady replied that it was not necessary, that what happened to his girl was just laziness”.

The mother of the student, faced with new requirements from the school, decided to take her daughter to a private psychologist. She presented the professional’s results, but her grades remained low. The next step was to activate a route with the requirement to bring results from the EPS to advance therapies, for example. The mother preferred to separate the student from the educational institution.

“The case was reported to the ICBF so that it could be included outside the educational system and make it clear that the right to education is not being denied.”

More concerns

As a result of situations such as the above, other questions arise for Rebecca Winthrop, of the Brookings Institution:

-Why is this family-school work important?

Building strong, trusting relationships between families and schools is one of the most underappreciated strategies for enhancing student experience and success. Rigorous research in the US has shown that schools with strong family relationships are 10 times more likely to improve student academic performance, compared to learning outcomes from schools that do not have strong relationships.

-How can this joint work between family members and the school be achieved in practice?

Promoting such trusting relationships includes not only increasing communication, but also changing the way school administrators and teachers view the role of families, listening to their concerns and needs and inviting them to develop together ways they can partner and work together to support your children and students.

-There are those who say that values ​​are taught at home and education is taught at school, how does that impact?

Girls and boys learn norms and values ​​in their environment: mothers, fathers, neighbors, teachers, store owners. On a daily basis, teachers transmit values ​​in the way they interact with students, with their peers. The important thing is to make sure that families and the school have similar social norms, that both share and model: respect for others, honesty, kindness…

-Do you feel that the accompaniment of the family to the child has changed with the new technologies?

Technology has played a fundamental role in improving communication between teachers, the school and families. For example, teachers can easily share information about what students are learning with parents and caregivers, and remind their children of homework through a variety of easy-to-use digital tools and apps.

-How did the pandemic influence the school-family relationship?

Due to the covid pandemic, collaboration between family and school has become a fundamental aspect. Even for many families, the health emergency caused them to have their first connection with teachers and with the school, which is something that can be built for a stronger collaboration in the future.

In Manizales and the rest of Caldas

*In Colombia, support for family schools arises from Law 2025 of July 23, 2020.

*The Mayor’s Office of Manizales develops the Family Schools plan. Prevention of bullying and cyberbullying, affective relationships, suicide prevention, violence and risks of the consumption of psychoactive substances are treated.

*“It was implemented in order to have a closer relationship between the Ministry of Education and parents and to know first-hand what their expectations are regarding the educational process of their children”, explained Carolina Castrillón, psychosocial support professional of the Municipal Secretary of Education.

*Adds: “We do it depending on the needs of the communities. For example, in some communes they have asked us to talk more about the prevention of the consumption of psychoactive substances and the mitigation of violence and suicide”, the official points out.

*The Secretary of Education of Caldas promotes school coexistence and the family environment, through the School for Parents.

*This year it has impacted 2,153 people with technical assistance and face-to-face and virtual training, of which 400 are parents, 1,340 students and 413 managers and teachers.

*The head of the Educational Coverage Unit, Diana Cardona, indicates that the main achievement has been to involve parents in the education of students. “Which in turn allows improving school environments, intra-family relationships so that their children have a life project. This is possible with campaigns that allow emotional, physical and spiritual integrity”.

Strengthening the school-family relationship: key in teaching