chapter  1
Introductory insights
Pages 5

This book seeks to move beyond a culture of blame whilst not shirking some of the more controversial features of this very important albeit somewhat neglected area. Educational policy, practice and research show increased recognition of the role of partnerships between parents and schools in promoting student attainment (DfES 2004a, DfEE 1998, 1991; Devine 2004; Crozier 2000). However, UK African and Caribbean parents, or indeed Black parents in general, are rarely, with notable exceptions (Blair and Bourne 1998; Ellis 1995; Tomlinson 1985; Bryan et al. 1985), at the centre of indepth discussions of the home-school relations or parental involvement field. Equally infrequently cited are the associated issues surrounding the proliferation of organisations established specifically to support UK-based African and Caribbean heritage parents in supporting their children through school-aged education and with home-school interaction. These are found from Leeds to London, from Brixton to Bristol. (See Vincent 2000; Hylton 1999; Wright, Weekes and McClaughlin 2000; Reay and Mirza 1997; Crozier 1996.)

The UK research agenda has, to a much greater extent, centred on exploring the ‘underachievement’ of African and Caribbean (and Bangladeshi and Pakistani) children. Such research is of course important and has gleaned some useful insights (DfES 2004a, 2003; Gillborn and Mirza, 2000; Runnymede Trust 1997; Gillborn and Gipps 1996). However, given the policy and research interest in the role of parental involvement in supporting educational attainment, there is a distinct need for a UK-based study concerned with ‘supporting Black pupils through supporting Black parents’. ‘Black’ in this book refers to families of African and Caribbean heritage.