Academic journey of a lifetime: The school, pupil and parent relationship

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"The relationships in schools are complex and need constant attention from all stakeholders." Photo: Getty Images
"The relationships in schools are complex and need constant attention from all stakeholders." Photo: Getty Images

A fulfilling, meaningful, and ultimately successful academic journey relies on a close relationship between the school, parents, and pupils.

All of them must play their roles consistently and effectively. We can't always be certain of what the future may hold, and all of us bring to the table our different life experiences, expectations, abilities and personalities. 

But working towards a solid foundation of trust and understanding, and always centering the needs of the student, will ensure that regardless of setbacks and challenges, all parties can experience success during the many years a child will spend at school.

It should come as no surprise that where a dynamic and life-changing endeavour such as a school is concerned, with its myriad employees, many parents and students, service providers, schedules, divergent approaches and essential and valuable logistics, it is inevitable that there will be variance in expectations.

The relationships in schools are complex and need constant attention from all stakeholders. Students' success and positive student experiences must underpin all undertakings and associations within a school.

Stakeholders must build trust and good faith to ensure consistent student's development and performance.

Read: 'Fewer teachers, increased class sizes': Equal Education says more needs to be done to fix schools

The roles of the 3 parties – school, students and parents – can be defined as follows:


The parent's responsibility is to interest their child's well-being and build relationships. They will be selecting the school best suited to their child's interests and are tasked with ensuring they do thorough due diligence before signing up with an institution.

Then, once at school, they need to stay involved. Any significant events or changes in a child's life may impact a student's engagement and learning.

It is essential to share that with the school to serve the child's unique needs better and provide the necessary support. It is also worth teaching children the value of perseverance.

If there are difficulties, don't simply move the child to another school, but rather work with the school to address concerns. This builds character and resilience. Endlessly moving from school to school does not support your child's learning experience.

Instead, continually engage with the school to help your child grow and build necessary life skills of grit and perseverance.

Children take their cue from their parents, so if parents speak derogatorily about a school or a teacher, their ability to thrive is immediately limited due to a lack of trust.

Get involved in school and extra-mural activities and seek to become part of the community of growth in which you enrolled your child. The school ultimately also becomes part of the family's network and foundation of support.

Must read: Covid-19 learning losses: what South Africa's education system must focus on to recover


The student experience must be at the heart of what teachers do. Their role is to ensure they develop, inspire and support learning across all phases of education.

The teachers build positive relationships with students to provide their social and emotional status enables learning.

Academic success for all is a vital strand of the role of the teachers, and future-focused classroom experiences underpin this.

Teachers encourage inquiry-based learning, integrated with ed-tech, which at all times aligns teaching and learning to the core values of respect, diversity and inclusion.

Using data constantly in lessons to drive improvement and ensure progress for each student, teachers are responsible for building supportive learning engagements and interventions to enable this.

Also read: High School 2023: Everything you need to know to apply now


Students must be encouraged to respect the ethos and rules of the school and the community, engage in lessons and ask questions. Parents must encourage open and honest communication between themselves and their children and teachers and children.

Help your child set goals and work towards attaining them. Help them cultivate discipline by ensuring they do their homework and take accountability for their performance.

Doing so will, for the most part, eliminate the need for tutors as crutches and will build resilience and a willingness and ability to move on from failure.

When there is mutual support and trust between students, parents and the school, this provides a firm foundation for students who can focus on their studies with confidence and without external noise arising from unnecessary conflict.

If teachers and parents can engage openly and honestly, without fear and by centering the child's needs, this provides the perfect setting for academic excellence.


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