Blog

The Power of Parents – Friday Insights (3 May)

Caitlin Ross, 03/05/19

Find out what our Impact Manager, Caitlin, has been exploring during this busy week alongside the release of our new research report Reimagining Education Together, and a breakfast event celebrating the release of our friend Esther Wojcicki’s book How to Raise Successful People.

Understanding insights from the Social Mobility Commission

This week saw the release of the Social Mobility Commission’s state of the nation report, which says that social mobility has all but stagnated over the last four years.

Admittedly, we’re not big fans of the term ‘social mobility’; it implies the pursuit of the what we feel is the wrong goal – greater numbers of people in higher education and getting into jobs labelled as ‘professional’ – as opposed to reducing inequity.

However, there are still insights in this report worth bearing in mind, particularly where education’s role in bringing about more equitable outcomes is concerned. 

According to the report, this stagnation is made worse through the closure of children’s centres, cuts to school funding, under-resourced further education provision and workplace inequality, especially in apprenticeships and other training.

These last two factors match findings in other inequity-focused research we’ve touched on in previous Friday Insight blogs, including Sam Friedman’s Class Ceiling and Impetus’ Youth Jobs Gap.

The state of the nation highlights that young people face gaps in provision in education and learning that can affect their futures throughout their whole lives – from their earliest years through to their entry into the workforce. This is why we need big ideas throughout every stage of learning and education to help all young people thrive – no matter what circumstances they were born into. Even if we disagree with the terminology in this report and the goals implied within it, we plan on using research and insights such as these to help us back projects that bring about more equitable outcomes for young people.

Four things you might not know about maternal mental health

Did you know that this week is Maternal Mental Health Week? If parental (and especially maternal) mental health isn’t already at the front of your mind when you think about what young people need to thrive in life, Education Policy Institute’s new policy analysisgives many reasons why it should be: 

  • Maternal mental illness has been linked to wide-ranging consequences for children, including worse mental and physical health throughout childhood and adolescence
  • Children of mothers with mental illness are more likely to exhibit internalising and externalising behaviour problems and – some evidence suggests – perform poorly in school.
  • A mother’s mental health can affect her child’s through different pathways, both biological and social. There is likely a substantial genetic component to the development of mental illness, but the relationship also works through less engaged parentingpoor attachment, and worse early childhood development
  • Lastly, Women of child-bearing age are the most likely to suffer from common mental illnesses out of all age groups in England. This is of course compounded by other disadvantages such as poverty, with mothers of children who entered into poverty, independent of employment status, had a 50 per cent increased odds of developing a mental illness compared to those whose socio-economic position stayed the same.

Taking care of mothers, parents and carers is crucial for children to be set up to thrive in life – we look forward to learning more from experts in the sector, including our own brilliant project partners, about how to make big change with parents and carers.

If you’re Interested in learning more about the state of maternal mental health and why it’s so important? Check out theMaternal Mental Health Alliance.

Leeds, obesity, and the power of parental engagement

If you’re still curious about the impact of parental engagement on improving young people’s lives, look no further than Leeds. A parental engagement program aimed at helping parents set boundaries with their children around food and eating is linked to Leeds’s success in becoming the first UK city to lower its childhood obesity rate.

Our research and experience funding projects in early years and oracy, such as Voice Bradford and EasyPeasy, has shown us the importance of parental engagement in bringing about more equitable outcomes for young people – which is why we’ve committed to continue to back big ideas in early development. We look forward to introducing you to our new cohort of changemakers in this space in the coming months.