Getting the most out of parent teacher interviews

As term 1 comes to a close, schools will soon be hosting parent teacher interviews. These meetings are a valuable opportunity for parents to attain greater insight into their child’s progress, academically and socially.

Speaking one-on-one with teachers allows parents to canvass their child’s areas of strength and weakness and to coordinate effectively with the school to provide more support if needed. Parents can also discuss a range of issues that may be affecting a child’s school life beyond the classroom.

Parent teacher interviews are usually restricted to 10 or 15 minutes so it’s important to come prepared with questions that will elicit the most information in the shortest time.

Trinity Grammar recommends parents ask these three essential questions:

1. What are my child’s strengths?
To determine where they’re performing best and what their current level of achievement is.

2. Are there any areas of concern?
Not just academically but also behaviourally or emotionally.

3. What are the upcoming focus areas of the curriculum and how best can we support my child?
Clear goals make it easier for parents to work with teachers to help children achieve to the utmost of their ability.

Parents may also find it helpful to ask questions about specific aspects of their child’s schooling such as homework, discipline measures and school expectations around behaviour, uniform and punctuality.

This is an occasion for parents to forge a strong partnership with teachers and, where needed, formulate a plan to improve their child’s learning outcomes.

“The key to a successful interview is to make sure that you are prepared, listen to advice and finish with an agreed way forward,” The Scots College counsels. “While parents are occasionally not happy with the progress of their children, the importance of parent-teacher-student interviews cannot be underestimated, especially in kick starting a change in attitude or direction.”

The NSW Department of Education urges parents to make it a positive experience by highlighting children’s accomplishments and ensuring that they are on-board with any agreed academic or behavioural strategies: “It’s important to discuss the meeting with your child and really congratulate them on their strengths. If the teacher made suggestions of things you could do at home, discuss these with your child and commit to following through with them.”

Each child is different and parents will have varying concerns. Some parents may feel that attending the parent teacher interview is unnecessary as their child is doing quite well and there are no issues to raise with the school.

But parent teacher interviews aren’t only about addressing problems, they’re also about celebrating a child’s achievements and engagement in the school community.

As the NSW Department of Education warns: “If you don’t go to parent teacher interviews, you’re also missing out on the chance to hear really positive things about your child that they may not tell you themselves. It’s equally rewarding for teachers to share good news with a parent.”

No matter what a child’s situation, the parent teacher interview is a critical communications channel between school and family. Make the most of it to optimise your child’s chances of success.

Read more:

Three essential questions to ask at parent teacher interviews – Trinity Grammar School, March 5, 2016

How to get the most out of parent teacher interviews – The Scots College, February 4, 2016

Parent teacher interviews – NSW Department of Education Schools A-Z website

The Sydney Independent Schools Expo: Saturday, February 27 and Sunday, February 28, 10am to 4pm

The Sydney Independent Schools’ Expo has moved to an exciting new venue. This year, the Expo will be held at the Crystal Palace event centre in Luna Park.

The new site offers excellent accessibility, abundant parking and a wide variety of facilities and catering options.

In keeping with its new iconic location, the Expo will provide a showcase for Australasia’s top independent schools, emphasising academic, athletic and extracurricular excellence.

Participating schools include boarding and day schools, single sex, co-ed, faith-based and secular options from preschool to Year 12.

The Expo provides a forum for families to meet face to face with staff and students from all these top schools – in one convenient location.

Parents are encouraged to engage with school representatives and explore their offerings in detail.

Teachers and administrators are happy to answer questions and provide families with all the information they need to find the best school for their child.

Site entry is free so come join us and make the Expo part of fun-filled family day out at Luna Park.

Sydney Independent Schools Expo fact file

When: Saturday, February 27 and Sunday, February 28, 10am to 4pm both days

Where: Crystal Palace, Luna Park

Cost: Free admission

Parking: Onsite parking

More information:

Research: Private schooling adds 12 per cent to lifetime earnings

Australian-first research commissioned by the Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research shows that graduates of non-government schools earn an average of 12 per cent more over their course of their careers than do their public school peers.

The income differential is attributed to the non-academic “soft” skills that private school students acquire making them good candidates for highly-paid upper managerial positions. “These findings suggest that private schooling may be important in not only fostering higher academic achievement, but also in better preparing students for a working life,” the paper says.

While the report focuses on the Catholic system, these results would also hold for graduates of independent private schools say study authors Nikhil Jha and Cain Polidano because of the sector’s “greater emphasis on the development of non-cognitive or soft skills that are important in explaining labour market outcomes.”

Read more

Long-run Effects of Catholic Schooling on Wages: Nikhil Jha and Cain Polidano for the Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research

Coverage of the report in the Australian Financial Review