Wednesday, 17th June 2020
The National Parent Forum of Scotland (NPFS) hosted a live Q&A webinar with John Swinney, Deputy First Minister and Cabinet Secretary for Education and Skills, on Tuesday, 16th June.
The event focused on the impact of COVID-19 and the issues related to the ‘blended’ learning approach for schools re-opening on the 11th August.
Parents and carers registering for the event reached 4,919, with over 3,000 attending on the night. The NPFS invited parents to post questions in advance and received over 1,600 emails with multiple questions.
A recording of the webinar is available online: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kzOYSr8KsuY
Today our Chair, Joanna Murphy, said:
“I would like to thank Mr. Swinney for agreeing to take part in this Q&A with the NPFS, and we were glad so many parents were able to join us. It was impossible to tackle everything in an hour and a half, due to the sheer volume of questions we received, but we did our best to represent the very wide range of questions that parents sent to us.
“I think this shows parents’ strength of feeling on all the issues relating to the impact of COVID-19. As parents ourselves, we understand that dealing with the upheaval of the last few months has been no easy task. Parents are worried about the impact on our children and young people, frustrated with the lack of consistency from local authorities and struggling with the financial impact on our families.
“We appreciate that the opinions of parents can vary, and we saw that from the comments posted during our Q&A. Parents have the best interests of their children at heart. We all need to remember that and be sympathetic to each another. The NPFS encourages parents to work together and with us to make sure the voice of parents is heard.
“We appreciate that these are unprecedented times and that plans are still being developed for schools re-opening in August. We understand that this is extremely complex to work out and organise, but we need many unanswered questions and concerns addressed. Local authorities should work hard on implementing creative solutions to tackle challenges, to ensure the very best possible outcome for Scotland’s children and young people.”
Feedback on the event has been very positive.
Sally Cavers, Head of Inclusion, Children in Scotland said:
“Thank you to the National Parent Forum of Scotland for organising and hosting the question and answer session with the Cabinet Secretary for Education and Skills. This was a very important opportunity for parents and carers to put questions directly to John Swinney and to hear his response. There were a lot of concerns expressed about consistency in the education response across local authority areas, but also different views expressed about what should happen in August.
“I was struck by the number of comments about children with additional support needs and a sense that their needs had not been accounted for in planning and that they were currently not being supported. I hope the Scottish Government, local authorities and schools recognise and reinforce the need for reassurance to parents and carers about their plans and the support available for their child and children as soon as possible to stop these concerns and worries escalating. For worried parents it’s worth remembering that Enquire, the Scottish advice service for additional support for learning, can help you with advice about your child’s learning and support or about talking to the schools about your concerns.” Enquire www.enquire.org.uk
*NOTES TO EDITORS*
The National Parent Forum of Scotland is a national body led by and for parents. Since its inception in 2009, it has undergone rapid development and is now an influential national and independent body, working on behalf of parents across Scotland to help every pre-school and school pupil maximise their potential.
The National Parent Forum of Scotland is comprised of one volunteer parent/carer representative from each of Scotland’s 32 local authority areas. Please visit www.parentforumscotland.org for more details.
The National Parent Forum of Scotland represents parents and carers through parent councils, and we are involved in engagement at local and national levels of government to make sure that parents and carers have a full and equal voice in our children’s education.
We represent ALL parents and carers and we appreciate that there are a wide range of views and opinions regarding the introduction of a blended learning approach to schooling which is proposed to commence in August when our children return to school.
It is the view of the NPFS that the safety and wellbeing of our children is of paramount importance and we simply cannot take any risks with our children’s health. Of course we want our children back in the classroom with their teachers and we know the teaching staff feel the same, however we must adhere to Scottish Government guidance.
The NPFS has sat on the Education Recovery Group at the invitation of the Scottish Government and we have ensured that the mainstream views of parents and carers from all corners of Scotland have informed the consultation process.