If you find this site useful, please donate to support our work
Subscribe

Get our latest news by email:

Search

Looking for something?

Facebook

Entries in School involvement (4)

Thursday
Feb012018

Time to end two 'classes' of parents

FNF Scotland's submission to the consultation on the Scottish Government's proposed Education Bill argues that it is time to overturn the custom and practice that gives 'non-resident' parents a reduced level of engagement with their child's school.

Most importantly, there has never been an educational argument to defend that secondary status of the 'non-resident' parent. To the contrary, research from around the world and the experience of those schools in Scotland that have been active in engaging with non-resident parents shows that children benefit on a range of measures from the involvement of both parents in their learning.

However, FNF Scotland argues the current system that allows schools to provide a lesser level of communication with 'non-resident' parents - mostly fathers - breaches their duties in terms of Equality law. 

FNF Scotland supports the Scottish Government's overarching commitment to challenging gender stereotyping wherever it limits the expectations and opportunities of our citizens. The insistence of most schools that they will choose one parent as the main parent is unfair to both mothers and fathers.

The FNF Scotland submission says that not only the law but the administrative substructure of data gathering by schools has to be addressed. In particular it should be required that a standard Scotlandwide pupil enrolment form is devised to include details of both parents (or kinship/institutional carers). Without a standard enrolment form and the subsequent 'annual data update' form that gives both parents equal recognition the two classes of parent are likely to continue.

FNF Scotland accepts that in a minority of cases it will not be in a child's interests for the 'non-resident' parent to be given the same information flow.  Such a decision should follow some form of due process and should not simply reflect the preference of the other parent. This will involve overhauling the ambiguous terms of the 2003 Educational Records regulations, removing the burden of 'taking sides' away from school staff to an independent procedure.

Wednesday
Feb152017

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.
Tuesday
Nov222016

Families Need Fathers Scotland 2016 AGM

The Annual General Meeting of the FNF Scotland charity will be held on Thursday 8th December at Robertson House, 152 Bath Street, Glasgow G2 4TB from 7-9pm.

As well as receiving reports on the charity's activity during the past year, there will be news of our campaigning to change family law and encourage shared parenting and other developments such as the training for lay assistants and our "Children Resisting Contact" training events.  We will also highlight progress in developing our supporter scheme and an online forum to discuss contact and parenting issues.

There will also be a presentation from Anne O'Donnell of St Patrick's RC Primary in Denny, near Falkirk.  We have invited her to talk about the school's work to involve fathers and other parental involvement activity.  They hold Boys Nights where boys and their male parents or carers come into the school and spend the evening doing various activities ranging from literacy games to outdoor learning. 

We are keen to celebrate good examples of how fathers can be involved in school and will also talk about what FNF Scotland has been doing to encourage schools to involve separated fathers.
Attendance at the AGM is free but we welcome donations - sign up here to attend.

Thursday
Nov172016

Pupil registration forms need to include both parents

FNF Scotland has submitted its evidence to the Review of the Effectiveness of the Scottish Schools (Parental Involvement) Act 2006 currently being carried out by National Parent Forum Scotland on behalf of the Scottish Government.

The Review will examine the whole of the Act which replaced the old school boards with parent councils and changed a range of arrangements about parental involvement whole in school management.

Our submission focuses on the effectiveness of the part of the Act that required schools to engage equally with both parents if they live separately.  Our experience is that at an individual level schools are welcoming enough but the relationship is largely driven by the non-resident parent - making himself known and allaying any suspicions that there may be about him.

We suggest that the annual pupil registration forms should have a clear space for contact details of the non-resident parent and that these forms and other information need to reach both separated parents.

Involvement has to mean involvement. It is not achieved by giving one parent a stream of communication but the other only a trickle. Schools should ask the non-resident parent how s/he would prefer to receive such information and provide it.

We are currently gathering and reviewing pupil information forms from all Scottish local authorities