M. Banasiak

University of Nicolaus Copernicus Toruń (POLAND)

A long-term, complex and radical reform of didactic methods and programmes as well as school system structure began in Poland in the year 1999. One of the fundamental assumptions of the educational reform was parents’ involvement in school life. “The aim of the undertaken actions, in the context of cooperation with parents, was reconstruction of the natural responsibility for a child’s fate, which should be borne by their closest relatives.(Kowalczyk- Szymańska, 2005, p. 10)”
School’s duties towards family may be divided into: guidelines for schools, principals’ duties, and tasks which should be fulfilled by the teachers. The law does not show directly precise guidelines for parents, except for the duty of enrolling a child for a school and ensuring it a space and conditions for studying. However, from the tasks the reform gives to schools, teachers and principals it can be deduced what the school may expect from parents.

Research findings

The subject of research were the effects of the educational reform in the field of parents’ involvement in the school life. The research’s aim was to obtain information on how the reform’s assumptions in scope of parents-school relation were accomplished at this phase of the reform. This allowed to state whether principals, teachers and parents are aware of their rights and responsibilities in the filed of creating the foundations of family-school cooperation, and if they make use of this knowledge in practise.

The research’s aim was to find an answer to the following questions:
1. What is the education process participants’ degree of knowledge of the reform’s assumptions in regards to family-school cooperation?
2. What is, in the education process participants’ opinion, the degree of accomplishment of the reform’s assumptions in regards to family-school cooperation?

The main result of the research show that however teachers know what are their duties and responsibilities towards partents they are not prepared to cooperate with parents, They still are teachers not partners during contact with parents. And this is the main issue, that universities don't prepare teachers to cooperate with parents, they only prepeare them to be educators. School reform changed teachers responsibilities but teacher training didn't change towards it.
The results of the research show also that if parents’ involvement in education is to be higher a few issues have to undergo changes. It is important to make students’ parents realize that the educational reform not only increased the scope of their rights but also their responsibilities towards the school. This is a task of teachers, principals and also social organizations which are in contact with parents, and which aim is to increase the parents’ involvement in education.
However, if teachers want to demand more from parents, they need concrete guidelines regarding what consequences follow from not fulfilling their duties by parents. All in all, it is necessary to define precisely in the Act of Education the consequences threatening parents for not fulfilling their duties. It surely is difficult to find an optimal solution to this problem and decide what penalties should threaten parents and not harm children at the same time. Therefore, this is a topic for discussion and analysis.