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Objective Four - Parental Engagement

Page history last edited by olliebray@... 12 years, 9 months ago

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Objective 4: Deepen parental engagement


Update: The Cabinet Secretary has expanded on this objective and set the context in a post on Engage for Education.


Benefits:  an increase in the amount of communication between schools and homes, relating to learners achievements; increased involvement of parents in their child’s learning through greater access to opportunities; increased digital literacy amongst parents.


What do we need to do:


  • Encourage schools to take small steps – email communications, publish calendars online, develop school websites.
  • Provide online learning opportunities for parents (particularly Internet safety).
  • Encourage the social use of technology – sharing pupil work and achievements on Facebook / Twitter / Flickr / YouTube / Google+ etc.
  • ????


How will we do this:


  • For primary and early years secondary where schools have clear duty of care this could be major hurdle without some national or local authority infrastructure - even a lot  suggested cloud platforms are cautious about age of their users   
  • Need models of good practice to encourage schools to open up to parents ( this is actually more than simply a technological issue is fundamentally a service/relationship  confidence  issue ) .
  • All schools should be encouraged to signpost parents and carers towards existing local and national services. This should include Engage for Education, National Parents Forum and Local Groups / Parent Councils.  A widget should be developed for Glow-based school websites.
  • Rather than re-invent the wheel we should embrace and endorse existing on-line communities of practice for parents such as Mumsnet (the leading UK website for parents by parents).
  • Through simple non-complicated case studies Scottish Government / Education Scotland should exemplify how technology can be used to develop better communication with parents. Examples of this might include use of school websites, perhaps with email subscriptions; use of translation software and emerging approaches to reporting.
  • Scottish Government / Education Scotland and Local Authorities should make a conscious effort to improve their use of technology, especially social media, to send out key messages to parents and carers (e.g. through targeted Facebook advertising rather than sending out postcards or posters indiscriminately)
  • Mechanisms to develop formal parental and community learning should also be developed. The cross cutting themes of Curriculum for Excellence would be a good place to start with this (e.g. Literacy, Numeracy and Health and Well-Being).
  •  All parents and carers should have access to resources to help them with the issues surrounding Internet Safety and Responsible Use. as well as with developing the competences to help learners benefit from the use of computers1





1. Educational Research and Innovation: Are the New Millennium Learners Making the Grade? : Technology Use and Educational Performance in PISA 2006,  http://www.oecd.org/document/57/0,3746,en_2649_35845581_45000313_1_1_1_1,00.html



Comments (29)

Abbywilson575 said

at 10:33 am on Sep 9, 2011

I really like idea 3; sharing pupil work through links on Twitter etc would be a really great, easy way for parents to feel more involved and perhaps help them to understand their child's development better now that formal assessment has been changed by CfE. And online learning for parents could potentially be a valuable option, but you seem to forget that they have a little trainer in their home- let the pupils teach their parents!

James Porteous said

at 10:47 am on Sep 9, 2011

I did a project a couple of years back that looked at a number of aspects of learning - one of the big insights was that parents often don't feel able to assist their children with homework, as they either don't know enough about the subject matter, or that they learned it a different way when they were at school, and that them helping their child actually causes more confusion. If you want to have more parental involvement, then it's important to think about how a parent can understand the methods being taught to their children (whether that's by providing learning materials aimed at teaching them the same things as their child, or other means), so they can assist them correctly.

Neil Winton said

at 10:15 pm on Sep 18, 2011

One way might be the recording of lessons or explanations and then sharing these online so that parents can access them. Khan Academy, anyone?

Malcolm Wilson said

at 11:22 am on Sep 9, 2011

Move towards schools developing use of mobile phone apps for communicating with parents, pupils and wider community - example school use here http://stjohnthebaptistprimary.co.uk/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=185&Itemid=153

Maggie Irving said

at 8:53 pm on Sep 9, 2011

If you offer parents the choice, what would they choose? I bet most would opt for Facebook? Why? They know it.

Ross McGregor said

at 2:54 pm on Sep 12, 2011

We are finding that the use of Glow blogs for schools websites (early years, primary and secondary) is really beginning to change the landscape of how schools can communicate and engage with parents. Blogs have allowed schools to create and easily manage sites independently (as opposed to relying on LA IT support). Many are now looking at how pages on their sites can be opened up to parent comments, for example for feedback on particular issues. Most schools would not have attempted this using freely available blogging tools such as Wordpress or Blogger. Schools are keen to use blogs when they are part of the infrastructure of Glow, with the security and support that brings. For some schools the use of Glow blogs has been a massive step in their engagement with ICT, and certainly in my LA, this is still an emerging practice with lots of potential for further developement.

SBurton said

at 2:34 pm on Sep 19, 2011

I agree with you Ross. In our school we moved from the school website which was difficult to use, actually one member of staff could update it, to a Glow Blog, which means all teachers can update the blog with their class. The blog is public so every can view it and leave comments, and the single glow log in meant that teachers did not have to create a new account. Also in West Lothian, like you do in East Ayrshire, and many other LAs do, we use gloe glogs are sharing what schools are doing in relation to CfE, so they can get ideas from each, support each other and celebrate their achievements. This blog has been really successful. http://glo.li/gsN8ls

hstar said

at 3:23 pm on Sep 15, 2011

We have started online reporting, uploading good work to the learning intranet for parents and pupils to view. Learning is becoming much more interactive on all levels and we have to embrace this, however, we need to ensure that we have secrurity and support inbuilt so that this is not abused.

Fiona Johnson said

at 7:59 pm on Sep 18, 2011

Has to be facebook - that's what's used!

Douglas Chappelle said

at 9:11 pm on Sep 18, 2011

I wish I'd seen this before I replied to Neil. If we want engagement with this topic Facebook is where it needs to happen.

Neil Winton said

at 10:13 pm on Sep 18, 2011

I'll second (or third) that... However, I'm also aware that Facebook is the flavour of the month just as MySpace once was and Blackberry once was and Videotape (VHS opt Betamax!) once were.

That's not to say that I think Facebook is going to disappear any time soon, but I think it does mean that we have to be open to the possibility that something better will come along. Part of the problem with Glow1.0 is that it was too proscribed in it's first incarnation. It took a lot of pressure to get GlowBlogs and wikis into the mix, and I'd love to know how popular they are compared to the existing parts...

Whatever does happen, ICT implementation and use has to be flexible enough to accommodate the needs of the learning community (teachers, learners, parents, LAs and everyone else with an appropriate interest in education) be that Facebook, Twitter or any other social media that comes along.

Douglas Chappelle said

at 10:36 pm on Sep 18, 2011

I think flavour of the month is what makes it all so exciting for early adopters and frustrating for others. The real problem is in keeping enough people on the same page as it were so that a critical mass can be established. I think there needs to be some proscription of the tools to allow this to happen.
Part of the inflexibility of Glow 1.0 was the change control procedures put in place by various stakeholders. These were inevitable given the scale of the project.

Stephen Bullock said

at 11:32 am on Oct 7, 2011

The rate of change online is always an issue (I'm rapidly losing patience with Facebook's changing navigation and privacy settings just now... I wonder what Google+ is like?) - but parents are taking this journey anyway. It would be a duplication of everyone's time and effort not to take this journey with them. So, yes, the new Glow has to be ultra-flexible (month long contracts anyone?).
The glorious thing about social media right now is the ability to publish once and have it fed through to countless different media so parents can digest the information in whatever platform they prefer (Twitter feed for example does this). New Glow could capitalise on this type of tool to mediate the way users change their communication habits constantly.

SBurton said

at 2:43 pm on Sep 19, 2011

If we refer to Glow as the collection of tools we use in regards to Technologies for Learning, we need to look at the ways in which the current Glow has helped promote parental involvement and build on this. I used a class Glow Group as a tool for learning and teaching in my class. The parents commented on parents night that how this gave them a real insight into their pupils learning, as they could see the work they had produced. It also allowed to find out what their child was learning and how they could help with homework.

I mentioned above that we changed our school website to a Glow Blog as the school website was too difficult to update, were as the blog was free and easy to update. The blog contains information about school trips, calendar, newsletter, school events and information about the learning taking place in classes.

We also had a parents information meeting, so parents were aware what Glow is, how they could use to support their child's learning and our vision for technologies for learning as a school. I feel it was our responsibility as a school community to educate the parents as to how we were using technologies for learning and how they could help.

Neil Winton said

at 8:07 pm on Sep 20, 2011

I do agree that school's should be on Facebook and Twitter, however, I also fear that given the levels of control exhibited by Local Authorities (LAs) and school management teams, they would be in danger of becoming no more than 'official' mouthpieces and be equally as interesting as a news feed from the Scottish Government. (No offence, Mr Russell!)

Teaching teachers and learners to use these tools effectively can give them a real life within and outwith the school. I have had some success using blogs and wikis with my classes, and also to support school trips. I have many testimonials from parents and learners who have appreciated that I have been happy to share online, yet I have often found that I have to take the "It's easier to ask for forgiveness than for permission". This is as a result of the systemic fear of the 'new' that permeates education.

Many schools and teachers do not understand or appreciate the power of these tools for sharing with parents and involving the wider community... yet at the same time, they will bemoan the number of parents turning up for (or rather NOT turning up for) Contact nights. As professionals, and public servants, we have a responsibility to make ourselves available for the parents and carers of our learners, but where does it say that this has to be in a drafty, crowded hall on a specific night and at a specific time when it could mean connecting with parents through Gow or Skype or Facetime?

Parents deserve more, and we could easily offer more... but it will require a major mindshift and willingness to change on the part of all involved in education.

Neil Winton said

at 8:10 pm on Sep 20, 2011

PS: With regards Facebook, Twitter et al... I wonder how many schools have already lost the initiative with these tools simply because in their haste to distance themselves from them, they have allowed others to 'cybersquat' on the IDs?

I have the Facebook, Twitter, Bebo (remember that one!) accounts for my school (and several other services as well), but I did so to prevent anyone else grabbing them. Imagine the fun a malicious pupil could have if they managed to grab a school's Twitter ID.

dave terron said

at 10:33 pm on Sep 20, 2011

I've grabbed the twitter ID for my school too. Having had ex HT bullied on facebook and another staff member set up on a fake Bebo page with photos sneaked during lessons, we are aware of the odd student who tries this. Sanctions can be and are applied which leads to a more mature approach by the kids.

john tracey said

at 4:53 pm on Sep 21, 2011

While I appreciate those who have a knowledge and understanding of ICT can feel there is an imperative on all teachers to be ICT literate, this does not happen automatically. Teachers as learners are no different from pupils as learners. Some are keen and take to ICT easily, some are keen and do not take to ICT easily, some are not keen, etc.
High quality CPD may help - been a long time since I've expected high quality CPD.
Add to this the costs - financial and time - for being permanently 'switched on' and accessible. Who should be paying these costs? There are still staff in our school without mobile 'phones. Are you suggesting they should be compulsory for all teachers? A question on the application form? I have a mobile 'phone but without internet access - should I be forced to upgrade? Most staff want a life seperate from work - I encourage this as a healthy approach for their well-being.
Parents' Evenings may take place in 'draughty' halls but I, as teacher and as parent, have always appreciated face-to-face contact

Neil Winton said

at 9:13 pm on Sep 21, 2011

I take your point about the cost completely... and acknowledge there may need to be considerable investment in the infrastructure, but I think this is what the Minister has hinted at in his YouTube speech.

I also agree about the benefits of a face-to-face meeting... and I was not suggesting ditching the contact nights (though appreciate it may read that way), what I was meaning is that there are many more opportunities now for us to engage with parents and carers and the notion that the contact night should or could be the only one has, I believe, had its day.

I can and do Skype with my relations in Canada, and doing so is a great alternative to seeing them in person. Similarly, the ability to Skype into a parent night interview if I am unable to be there in person would be a massive improvement on not being there.

Finally, I completely agree about the home/work balance being important... I have no problem doing extra work and learning outwith the school day, but I'm not necessarily typical. I don't know what the answer to that one is.


at 10:15 pm on Sep 20, 2011

We have lots of parents with lots will in Aberdeen to help take this forward, we need a strategy to roll it out. Some of our chidren are currently being invited to school across the city for the odd lesson. Unsurprisingly there are not many takers. Who wants to spend two hours travel for one hour's tuition. Ask the same students if they would take the subject via a virtual classroom and you get a very positive approach.

Alison Stewart said

at 2:30 pm on Sep 27, 2011

In Spring this year, Central Scotland Police and partners held 3 separate free of charge Internet Safety Seminars to promote safe use of the internet by young people. The seminars were targeted for parents, professionals, voluntary workers and carers etc. The presentations included: Current Dangers, Illegal Downloading, File Sharing, Sexualised Behaviour – Coming of Age in a Porn Culture and How to Take Control. They were fantastic, incredibly well attended and there was a demand for more! If this could be rolled across Scotland it would be a very positive step in promoting parental engagement.


at 6:36 pm on Sep 27, 2011


at 6:38 pm on Sep 27, 2011

I'm glad to say that Aberdeen City Council has such a programme in situ. I attended one talk earlier this year and found it highly informative.

Alison Taylor said

at 1:33 pm on Oct 4, 2011

I feel that in Scottish Borders the aims are being worked on currently.

Bruce Robertson said

at 12:11 pm on Oct 6, 2011

The pilot of Glow with parents across Aberdeenshire confirmed that they were really interested in using technolgy to support their childrens' learning. Key issues of sustainability and managing expectations will be part of this solution. Opportunities are around in CfE and the use of the e-portfolio may be a useful Trojan Horse here. One day will all courses, pupil reports and assessment data, and links to learning sites be available for parents and carers?

Stephen Bullock said

at 11:42 am on Oct 7, 2011

In the past the compiling of 'contact lists' for pupils and parents has been either blocked on the grounds of data protection (in my old LA I was told I couldn't have database software even installed on my computer in case I collated this type of information) or else has been uselessly out of date and impossible to update. For OOSH activities and holiday schemes this led to a devastating lack of communication of opportunities to parents - low turn out, wasted funds and disgruntled parents saying 'I didn't even know it was happening'.

New technologies like Twitter and Facebook mean that the parent signs up and 'listens in' to our conversations - contact lists become a thing of the past and every user has responsibility for following the conversation. Future Glow can make real use of this hopefully as long as the front door of Glow is open to any parent who shows an interest.

Neil Winton said

at 2:45 pm on Oct 10, 2011

One thought that was passed to me by a parent: They have no interest in linking their private lives (complete with swearing and dodgy photos) with school through FaceBook. They see FaceBook as a private/personal thing and should be kept separate from their 'parental' role.

Stephen Bullock said

at 6:39 pm on Oct 10, 2011

I believe this is an awareness issue. If a school exists as a 'Page' on Facebook and a parent has their security settings set appropriately then the administrators of the 'page' will not be able to see into the parent's Facebook pages but will still be able to share news with them - a one way street unless the parent chooses to comment on the school's posts.

Neil Winton said

at 6:51 pm on Oct 10, 2011

Hi Stephen,
I agree with you, but I rather fear it shows how little parents know about something like Facebook that they actually use every day. If anything, it helps demonstrate why these tools have to be available in schools if for no other reason than to teach responsible use. ;-)

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