‘Words can’t explain how big an effect’: a dad’s feedback

15 May 2012

Carlos Maxwell (pictured left, in a yellow t-shirt with his son Dean, then aged 11) is a father of two from Harrow in north London. He took part in the Dads in Demand animation project which we ran with Campaign for Learning at Stag Lane Primary School, Harrow in 2010. Carlos says the project completely changed his attitude to his son’s education, and had a positive effect on his son’s behaviour and their relationship.

“Words can’t explain how big an effect it had. It got me so much more interested in his education and what he’s getting up to at school. Through the project I got to know all his teachers and I’ve got to know his friends and their dads too. He can really see that what he does at school matters to me and that makes him try harder. It’s not that he was ever a bad kid, but because he knows I’m in touch with the teachers he knows that if he misbehaves or gets up to bad stuff they’re going to tell me.

“I always used to go to parents’ evenings but apart from that I’d just find my space in the playground and stand there waiting for him to come out. By inviting us in to do the animation project, the school changed that and me and the other dads started to feel like part of things.

“Now my son knows he can communicate with me about school issues – he’s not frightened to talk about it and he knows I’ll know what he’s on about. And it’s stuck with us too – we set up a dads’ group after the animation project and that’s got a life of its own now. My son’s at high school now and I’m still really involved, like with organising basketball.

The Dads in Demand project had a dramatic impact on children’s school performance. Independent evaluators found that in the year before the project, 15% of the children involved had reached expected National Curriculum targets and 10% had exceeded them. In the year of the project, 73% reached the targets and 54% exceeded them; 23% of the children made 2 years’ worth of progress in the year of the project. For a summary of the Dads in Demand project click here.


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