When Steve Davies became head teacher of Coopers Lane Primary School in Grove Park ten years ago, he noticed a real “underrepresentation” of male role models for its pupils. Most fathers seemed disengaged from their children’s education.
Steve Davies told Eastlondonlines: “I had seen a lot of boys from what I call ‘broken families’ – boys with no dads, only mums. I saw a lot of dads just dropping their kids off and driving away.”
He decided to create the Dads Matter programme, which engages fathers by involving them in practical aspects of school maintenance, including building playhouses and maintaining the Coopers Lane peace garden.
Since he set up the initiative, his school has seen dramatic improvements in the academic performance of its boy pupils.
According to the Key Stage 2 results published by the Department for Education in July this year, 87 per cent of the school’s boys achieved level 4 and above in their National Curriculum tests for both English and Maths in 2012, compared to 54 percent in 2010.
Girls’ results have also improved significantly. In 2012, 100 per cent of girls achieved level 4 and above, compared to 72 per cent in 2010.
Seven years after Dads Matter launched, fathers now have a much more active part in their children’s education.
Steve Davies, said: “Dads are engaged and completely visible in the school. Instead of seeing a 90-10 split between mums and dads, it is now 60-40.
One of the dads, David Ruddell, said: “Simply put, it’s been an opportunity to meet with other dads to get a real idea of how we can help in their schooling.”
The dads gather monthly at a local pub “for just one pint” to chat with each other about just that.
Its success in Lewisham has seen Davies travel to the Netherlands, Spain and Sweden to speak on its behalf. The group also maintains a strong partnership with schools in Edmonton, Canada through its Facebook page.
Davies said: “The program is about engaging fathers. It means less crime, happier families, less divorce and happier children.”