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Entries in education law (3)


Guide for schools supports inclusion of both parents

Two national charities have been working together to produce a new guide for schools and nurseries to encourage better parental inclusion in support of their children’s education.


Helping Children Learn, produced by Children in Scotland and Families Need Fathers Scotland, urges schools to be proactive in building positive and inclusive relationships in particular with non-resident parents.


Based on research and evidence, the guide identifies the benefits not only in children's academic attainment but also in their conduct and constructive relationships when both parents are involved in supporting their education even when they no longer live together.


Schools are required to draw up a parental involvement strategy and review it regularly to ensure both parents are encouraged and supported to become engaged in their child’s education and also to participate in the wider school community. However the researchers found considerable variation between schools and between authorities in the effort they appear to make to reach out to non-resident parents.


The report reminds schools of the current legislation, guidance and policy, and highlights examples of best practice across the country. Good practice case studies are drawn from Prestonpans Infant School, East Lothian and South Lanarkshire Council.


Marion McLeod, Policy Manager with Children in Scotland said:We know that in general, with some individual exceptions, children benefit for the active support and involvement of both parents.  This is particularly true in terms of educational attainment. 

We appreciate that often schools or other education bodies might find it difficult to manage differing parental expectations when families breakdown, but we know that the child benefits immeasurably when clear, transparent and constructive involvement is achieved. This is the best practice we must strive for.”


Ian Maxwell, National Manager of Families Need Fathers Scotland added:It is ten years now since the Scottish Schools (Parental Involvement) Act urged schools to 'work hard' to engage with fathers in general and non-resident fathers in particular and to treat both parents with equal respect. Regrettably, we still hear regularly from some non-resident parents that they have felt excluded from communication around their child’s education, or are made to feel they are causing bother by asking for their own copies of newsletters and school reports. We hope this guide will help schools and education authorities work towards a more inclusive approach, for the benefit of all involved, our children above all.”

The guide has been published to coincide with 2016, Scotland's Year of the Dad – although it is noted a non-resident parent may be either a mother or father.


FNF Scotland last year published EQUAL PARENTS - a 'user guide' for non-resident parents to clearing the obstacles to involvement in their children's education.


New guide to getting school information

Non-resident parents often encounter unnecessary obstacles to obtaining information about their children's education, in situations when they are perfectly entitled to obtain school reports, attend parents evenings and share in the flow of information from schoool to home.

FNF Scotland has published a guide to help these parents overcome the obstacles and clarify their legal rights. 

It covers the legal entitlements of non-resident parents with and without parental rights and responsibilities and recommendations and situations in which school records can be withheld.

The first contact with the school is crucial, and we suggest that it is better to make the intial contact by letter or email rather than by phone call or in person. The non-resident parent may be anxious and fearful whn making this enquiry whereas the school receptionist may be trying to do three things at once and may come over unintentionally as negative. 

The guide includes sample letter templates for various categories of parent.

This publication follows our research  carried out in partnership with Children in Scotland.  A guide for education authorities and schools will be published shortly.


Aberdeen event promotes FNF Scotland work

Despite losing one speaker through rail delays, our meeting on 7th December to promote FNF work in Aberdeen resulted in a very useful discussion on a range of issues.  It also highlighted the strong interest in collaborative law amongst Aberdeen family lawyers.

Karen Woodall from the Centre For Separated Families would have talked about their work in supporting the whole family, gender inequality and with high conflict families if her train had made it north of Edinburgh - we hope to invite her back next year, maybe to support our work in Stirling.

Instead, our audience of fathers, family lawyers, educationalists and family support staff (including two people from the newly renamed Avenue mediation, contact and counselling service) heard from Ian Maxwell about how FNFworks to support individuals and also campaigns to change the system.

John Forsyth spoke about "Equal Parents"- the new report from FNF Scotland about clearing the obstacles to involvement of non-resident parents in their children's education. 

Many fathers have contacted FNF Scotland about problems in getting hold of school information about their children, such as the wrongful refusal to release school attendance information to a father because he didn't have parental rights.

John sent a Freedom of Information Request to all Scottish local authorities in mid 2011, asking about their policies on the right of non-resident parents to information about their children, how they collect contact details for non-resident parents, how they make school information available to non-resident parents and whether they know what proportion of their school roll had parents living apart.

The results of this survey, together with an account of the relevant law and examples of good and poor practice are included in the report, which will be modified for publication following further consultation. 

Anyone who has comments on this draft or who can contribute further experience relating to contact or involvement with Scottish schools should contact  john.forsyth@fnf.org.uk.