PARENTS find teachers unapproachable and believe schools do not want them involved, according to a major survey published today.
One in four parents believe their children's teachers are not very approachable and one in six feels the schools do not encourage them to get involved.
Working-class parents with lower levels of education tend to have less formal contact with the school.
When they do, it is more likely to be in response to difficulties with their child's behaviour or lack of academic progress.
The study, Behind the Scenes, by Delma Byrne and Emer Smyth for the Economic and Social Research Institute is the most comprehensive study to date of Irish parents' involvement in their children's education.
It found that parents on the whole were satisfied with their children's education and particularly happy with the development of their children's social and personal skills and their self confidence.
Greater competency, however, was needed in areas like computer skills and preparation for work and life skills. Parents also tended to be more critical of the Junior Cert curriculum than the Leaving Cert.
The study drew on surveys of school staff and parents of students. It suggests that schools should provide a welcoming environment and should offer greater opportunity for informal contact with teachers.
The report said that young people whose parents frequently discussed how they had done in tests or exams tended to achieve higher grades than others.
Where students had a problem, girls were more likely to approach a family member than boys.
They also found that increasing competition between schools for pupils led to some "creaming off" of the brighter students.
In the case of vocational schools more than two thirds reported experience of this pattern.
By contrast, single-sex and co-educational secondary schools were more likely to get the better students.