Authors/Autores: Denessen, Eddie ( and Bakker, Joep. Radboud
University Nijmegen, The Netherlands
Tittle/ Título: Schools’ policies on parental involvement in multi-ethnic schools
Políticas escolares sobre la implicación de los padres en centros docentes multi-étnicos
Topic: Cultural, technological and multicultural aspects of school, family and community
Aspectos culturales, tecnológicos y multiculturales de las relaciones que se establecen entre las
familias, los centros docentes y las entidades y servicios sociales comunitarios
Presentation time/Día de presentación: Session in English. Friday 16, 12:15-1:45 p.m. Room 2,
Third Floor
Sesión en Inglés. Viernes 16, 12:15-1:45 p.m. Sala 2, Tercer Piso

Culture differences within parent communities are challenging for schools which aim at succeeding
in their policy regarding parental involvement. Literature suggests that various groups of parents
may differ in their attitudes towards education as well as the role they are supposed to play in
stimulating their children’s development (Denessen, Driessen, Smit, & Sleegers, 2001; Driessen,
2001; Lopez, Scribner, & Mahitivanichcha, 2001). Especially migrant parents seem to possess
strong performance oriented attitudes towards education. Also, they appear to expect schools to
play the biggest part in their children’s development (Lopez et al., 2001). Previous research,
however, has also shown migrant parents to participate less in their children’s schools (Lopez et al.,
2001). In this study, we will explore the relation between schools’ policies with respect to parental
involvement and the actual involvement of autochthonous and migrant parents in the schools. The
aim of this study was to identify indicators and conditions for effective parental involvement school
policies. This study has been carried out at five elementary schools in the Netherlands. Interviews
have been held with the principal of the school or the person who is responsible for the school’s
policy on parental involvement. Next to these interviews a selected group of parents have been
interviewed about their attitudes on parental involvement and their evaluation of parental
involvement activities at their children’s school. The results of this study indicate that schools
recognize difficulties in getting migrant parents involved in their school. Yet, the scope of schools’
policies is quite limited. A lot of schools’ activities with respect to parental involvement seem to
depend on individual initiatives of enthusiast members of the school staff. Also, a structured
approach to parental involvement is lacking. Schools receive very little help and guidance in
formulating goals and visions on parental involvement. They mainly depend on their own
evaluation of ‘what works’. One of the ‘good practices’ identified at one particular school was a
focus on key persons within the migrant communities. Using the community structure around the
school as an organization principle for communicating with parents seems to be more fruitful than
an individual approach. This particular school seemed to be more effective than the other schools in
getting migrant parents involved. Although some differences between schools have been assessed,
the parents of the various schools did not seem to differ in their evaluation of parental involvement
activities. Some differences between autochthonous and migrant parents were found, which mainly
supports previous findings: autochthonous parents seek more contact with the schools and
participate more at school. On the other side, migrant parents seem to receive more information
from the school and they have more contact with teachers than autochthonous parents have. In line
with results of previous studies (Lopez et al., 2001), we also found migrant parents to have higher
expectations of the school than autochthonous parents.


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