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Entries in parental involvement (6)


Radio 4 hears how one Scottish school "works hard" to involve dads

From Our Home Correspondent on BBC Radio 4 broadcast an item on Sunday 26th March by John Forsyth about the recent Boys Night at St Patrick's Primary School in Denny. 

He described how the Boys Night, an initiative by the Head Teacher, Anne O'Donnell, and the school parent council, brought lots of dads, grandfathers, uncles and other male carers into an evening of school activities but more importantly makes them feel that they are important to their children's learning.

Listen to the item from 23.20.



Government has an eye on schools' engagement with non-resident parents

  • Glasgow Provan MSP, Ivan McKee, raised the issue of the patchy engagement of some local authorities in Scotland with non-resident parents in the Scottish Parliament on February 9th. Answering for the Scottish Government, Deputy First Minister and Cabinet Secretary for Education and Skills, John Swinney, agreed that research shows the educational benefit to children of the involvement of parents in their learning and anticipates further development of government guidance in this area.
  • The officlal report reads:
  •  Ivan McKee (Glasgow Provan) (SNP): To ask the Scottish Government how it ensures that schools communicate with both resident and non-resident parents. 
  • The Deputy First Minister and Cabinet Secretary for Education and Skills (John Swinney): The Scottish Schools (Parental Involvement) Act 2006 imposes a range of duties on local authorities and schools to promote the involvement of all parents in their children’s education. Paragraph 20 of the statutory guidance on the act makes it clear that: “It is important that education authorities and schools do as much as they can to support the continued involvement of parents who don’t live with their children.”
  •  The National Parent Forum of Scotland has been undertaking a review of the 2006 act and will make its recommendations to the Scottish Government in the spring. The Government will consider the forum’s report, including any conclusions that relate to communication and consultation between schools and non-resident parents.
  • Ivan McKee: There is much research that shows that children learn better when both parents are actively involved in their education. Unfortunately, a significant proportion of non-resident parents find themselves excluded from involvement in their children’s school life, often through the poor engagement practices of local authorities. 
  • There is good practice by Western Isles Council, which does not start from the presumption that all children live with both parents. Does the cabinet secretary agree that the issuing of guidelines to encourage local authorities to share best practice would benefit the educational attainment of the up to 30 per cent of children who do not live with both parents?
  • John Swinney: I agree with Mr McKee’s conclusions about the research evidence. The issue is strongly reflected in the national improvement framework, which highlights the involvement of parents in young people’s educational experience as a significant consideration that schools and local authorities should take into account. I am familiar with the good practice that emanates from the Western Isles on the question and I certainly agree that the quality of guidance is important to inform improved practice. 
  • As I indicated in my original answer, we expect a review of many of the issues from the National Parent Forum. I will reflect on that and on Mr McKee’s points, which will inform any further development of guidance by the Government.

Minister announces review of parental involvement with schools

Scottish Government Education Secretary, Angela Constance, has ordered a review of the impact and success of current legislation on the involvement of parents in their children’s education. 

Speaking at the annual conference of the National Parent Forum Scotland last Saturday Ms Constance said:   “We know children achieve more at school if their parents are fully involved in their learning. That is why parental involvement has been identified as one of the key drivers for our National Improvement Framework for education.  Our education system has evolved a great deal in the last ten years, with renewed focus on raising attainment across the country, and closing the gap in outcomes between the most and least advantaged children. It is right we review how we support and involve parents in their child’s education, to ensure the law and all related work are fit for purpose and serving parents and children well."

The review comes ten years after the Scottish Schools (Parental Involvement) Act was introduced, and will be led by the National Parent Forum Scotland (NPFS).

Ms Constance said:

“The NPFS, who will conduct the review on behalf of Ministers, will speak directly with parents, schools and children to get their views on how parental involvement in education works in practice and how it can be improved. We will also be able to use the review findings to inform the on-going development and implementation of the National Improvement Framework. I look forward to considering the review’s conclusions.”

Ian Maxwell, national manager of FNF Scotland has warmly welcomed the initiative.

"There is a raft of evidence from the UK and around Europe that children do better when both parents are fully involved in their experience at school - not only in educational attainment but also in their broader wellbeing in and out of school.

The 2006 Parental Involvement Act and the Guidance that went with it were quite explicit in placing a responsibility on schools and councils to 'work hard' at engaging with fathers in general and non-resident parents in particular and to ensure that both parents are treated with equal respect if they no longer live together. The experience reflected in our casework is that most schools and most teachers understand that. Unfortunately we still hear too frequently of examples of unjustified and unexplained hostility to some non-resident parents who feel they are not treated equally and who feel they are walking on eggshells with the school in case they are seen as 'difficult'.

We will certainly share our considerable experience with the NPFS review and make positive proposals about improving systems within schools to ensure non-resident parents are recognised in their own right; that communications within school and between school and parents are more explicitly inclusive of non-resident parents (fathers and mothers); and that schools and councils fulfill the expectations set down for them in 2006 that they will 'work hard' to include non-resident parents."

FNF Scotland published  the Equal Parents guide earlier this year, outlining the legal rights for fathers with and without Parental Rights and Responsibilities and suggesting ways to approach the school.


MSPs briefed on how schools can involve non-resident fathers

A briefing on the involvement of non-resident parents in their children's education has been circulated to all MSPs, and also publicised in the Sunday Post.

Produced in partnership with Children In Scotland, the briefing outlines the results of FOI requests to all Scottish local authorities, asking about local policy and practice with regard to involving non-resident parents in education.

Only about half of local authorities reported to have specific policies in place on the right of non resident parents to information about their child’s progress in school.  Even fewer had carried out specific initiatives aimed at engaging non-resident parents.

The briefing also gives examples of some good practice found in our survey, and gives MSPs suggestions on how to act on this issue, such as asking for a copy of their local authority’s annual ‘progress report’ on the efforts it has made to engage with hard to reach groups of parents, including fathers and non-resident parents.

Parents facing difficulty in getting information about their children should refer to the Scottish Schools (Parental Involvement) Act guidelines.  FNF Scotland will continue to monitor this issue, and the full report of our research will be published shortly and we would like to hear about both problems and good practice..


Equal Rights for Unmarried Fathers

The public petitions committee of the Scottish Parliament has discussed a petition lodged by Ron Park calling for Equal Rights for Unmarried Fathers.

Ron explains the background of his petition that his son, Alex, was born in October 2013 but the mother has refused ever to let him even see him. He has not been named as the father in Alex's birth certificate. Ron explains the efforts he has made to see the child and to have a role in boy's life - and his shock at discovering there are no mechanisms in Scots law to assist him.

Ron is calling for:

1. Both parents must be named on a birth certificate before a birth can be legally registered. Where the child's parentage is in doubt, all avenues must be explored in determining the child's father to the satisfaction of a court. If it is still not possible to name the child's father for whatever reason, a court may grant a registered birth with only one parent.

2. After parentage is determined, and should both parents be found to be fit and able to care for the child should an investigation be necessary, full rights and responsibilities will be awarded to BOTH parents. This will include the duty of care and living arrangements either agreed by mutual consent or, as a last resort, a court order.

3. And perhaps my most important change in that if the court orders a DNA test, or anything else for that matter, then failure to comply with this request should be considered contempt of court. If we cannot rely on our legal system to fall back on, then we simply have a lawless and anarchic society. 

The full petition, now signed by 423 individuals, can be found here. http://www.scottish.parliament.uk/GettingInvolved/Petitions/petitionPDF/PE01513.pdf

FNF Scotland national manager, Ian Maxwell, says, "This is an important initiative by Ron Park. Many people, including legislators, are unaware of how difficult and heartbreaking it can be for an unmarried non-resident father to be an involved parent of his child - especially a new born - if the mother wishes to exclude him for reasons of her own.

There is a raft of evidence that shows children do better in every area of their life - in health, educational attainment, self esteem and maintaining relationships themselves when both parents and their respective extended families are fully involved even after divorce or separation.

Successive Scottish Children's Acts have stressed that the paramount concern of both parents should be the best interests of their children. Public policy repeatedly reminds us of our responsibilities as parents towards our children.

We hope the Public Petitions Committee will take an active view of Mr Park's petition and urge on the Scottish Government the need to bring our parenting legislation up to date with current expectations about parental involvement and prevent individual tragedies such as Mr Park's."

Families Need Fathers Scotland will be providing further information to the committee about an issue which features in many of the enquiries we receive.