Parents: an obstacle to education reform?

Parents: an obstacle to education reform?

According to one of the world’s leading experts on education, parents represent a “conservative force” which is standing in the way of important education reforms.

Andreas Schleicher, education director at the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), made the comments during the launch of a report that analyses education reforms around the world.

“Parents are a very conservative force. Everybody wants the education system to improve but ‘not with my child’. The dynamics are very, very tough. It requires very strong political leadership,” Schleicher said.

“Opponents to any kind of reform are always going to outnumber the people who are in favour of change.

“Big reforms require really courageous leadership, particularly in the field of education.”

The NSW Parent’s Council’s vice-president, Jaqui Van de Velde, while agreeing that parents are a conservative force, believes that when it comes to their child’s education, parents play a crucial role but not necessarily an obstructive one.

“Parents are generally a conservative force. They want the education of their children to be the best it can possibly be,” Van de Velde told The Educator.

“They want teachers, schools and educational administrators to adopt and implement best practice; best practice in education that is grounded in historical success and research - not fad-based and on a whim.”

Van de Velde added that she interpreted Schleicher’s comments to mean that there is need for greater leadership in the area of education reform, not that parents are a hindrance.

“Herr Schleicher is hardly saying parents are getting in the way, and the recommendations he is making do not fly in the face of the movement for greater parental engagement in education in the UK or Australia.” Van de Velde said.

“Oddly enough I would also argue that his call for courageous educational leadership is not inconsistent with parental aspirations and expectations for their children's education.”