Today we are launching a survey to gather input from parents and carers across Scotland as a follow-up to conversations around education reform that we have been having throughout the last 12 months. This survey focuses on creating a new national body responsible for qualifications and assessment.

You can dive right in and complete our survey here. If you’re interested in participating in one of our focus groups on this topic, register your interest here. If you’re an office bearer in a parent forum, parent council, or parent teacher association interested in setting up a local focus group on this issue, please email resources@npfs.org.uk for an info pack.

For background and further information, you can read the Scottish Government’s consultation paper on establishing a new qualifications body here. You can also complete the official Scottish Government survey here.

The summary report on our findings from the June survey of parents and carers about behaviour, violence, and support in Scottish schools can be found below. We would again like to extend our heartfelt thanks to all those parents and carers who took part in this survey.

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As young people across Scotland receive their results, NPFS is here for thier parents and carers. This year we’ve compiled this quick fact sheet for your reference today and in the days ahead – designed to answer your questions and signpost you to other useful resources at this exciting time, whatever the results may be.

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As schools start to knock out all over Scotland, the NPFS leadership team just wanted to take a second to give a shout-out to all our representatives, all the parent council chairs, all the volunteers who help make our school communities amazing – and especially to all the parents and carers who have taken part in our surveys and consultation work across the 2022-23 session.
It’s been an eventful year, and we look forward to fresh opportunities to elevate the voice of parents and carers in the coming months.
Have an excellent summer break, and if you need us, please do email office@npfs.org.uk and someone will be in touch as soon as practical.
#NPFS #ParentalEngagement #Summer2003 #ParentVoice

The National Parent Forum of Scotland (NPFS) is pleased to see the finished report from Professor Louise Hayward’s Independent Review of Qualifications and Assessments, ‘It’s Our Future: Report of the Independent Review of Qualifications and Assessment,’ published today.

The NPFS would like to take this opportunity to thank the hundreds of parents and carers across Scotland who participated in Professor Hayward’s review by completing a survey, attending a local focus group, participating in our co-hosted online consultation spaces, attending an online forum, or providing feedback in another way.

NPFS played a key role in the Qualifications and Assessment Review Group, along with Connect, sharing news and information about the review, conducting surveys, hosting focus groups and online discussion spaces, and engaging with a wide range of parents and carers at all ages and stages across the country.

While any diverse group of parents and carers is bound to have a variety of ideas about assessment and qualification, two key themes are common across feedback received:
1. Parents and carers want a system that works for all learners; and
2. Parents and carers understand that different assessment methods work for different children and young people.

The NPFS will continue to work to elevate the voice and views of parents and carers to the highest levels of Scottish Government. Our forward work in this area will be focussed on ensuring:
• plans for any proposed changes are clearly communicated to parents without unnecessary jargon,
• parental views continue inform any proposed changes,
• timelines for change are realistic and clear for all stakeholders, and
• any reforms are properly resourced and funded for school communities.

You can read the full report, ‘It’s Our Future: Report of the Independent Review of Qualifications and Assessment’ here, find a summary of the review’s findings and recommendations are here, and find an analysis of the consultation here.

We’d like to extend our thanks to Connect, along with scores of parent councils across the nation for working closely with us throughout the review. And, finally, thank you again for the effort you’ve put into this consultation with us – it really does take a village, and NPFS are grateful to have you play a part in ours.

NPFS has been contacted by parents in various local authorities about the return to normal exams with all course content added in, as some feel their young people are still not ready to cope with added pressure. As a result, we have had discussions with allied interest groups and are opening this snap survey for parents/carers of young people in secondary settings to capture views on the impact of lost learning and disrupted educational routines.
As this is a responsive piece of work, the survey is only open until noon on Monday, 19 June.
Results from this survey will directly inform our forward response and engagement with government and other stakeholders in education at the highest level, this will also help us respond to media requests with a fair and clear voice on behalf of parents and carers across Scotland.
Have your say here: https://forms.gle/Co6uP5cpdic3GNzx7

If you’re curious what the National Parent Forum of Scotland does, here we are…in a Nutshell.

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On Wednesday, 7th June, the NPFS leadership team and several representatives attended the 2023 Scottish Education Awards. The event was a tremendous celebration of all that’s good about Scotland’s schools and teachers – and our chair, Cheryl Burnett, was on hand to present the award for Parent and Family Engagement. This year’s winners are the Perth and Kinross Council Parent and Family Learning team.

Thanks to everyone who submitted nominations, and our heartfelt congratulations to the other finalists: Lornshill Academy, Clackmannanshire and Lochside Primary School and Early Learning Centre, Angus.

We wish you all the very best for your continued, successful engagement with parents and carers across Scotland!

Scottish Education Awards 2023 Winner - Parent and Family Engagement Award Parenting & Family Learning, Perth and Kinross Council team:Alison Houghton, Yvonne Skillin, Rhona Cameron, and Megan Campbell with NPFS chair, Cheryl Burnett.
Scottish Education Awards 2023 Winner – Parent and Family Engagement Award
Parenting & Family Learning, Perth and Kinross Council team: Alison Houghton, Yvonne Skillin, Rhona Cameron, and Megan Campbell with NPFS chair Cheryl Burnett.

The National Parent Forum of Scotland have received a number of comments in recent weeks regarding the rise in reports of concerning behaviour in our schools. Today, we launched a survey to gather real-world experiences from parents across Scotland. We will use the feedback from this survey to inform our contributions to upcoming conversations around school bheaviour, as well as forward policy discussions.
This survey will run for two weeks, and you are welcome to complete it multiple times to reflect the experiences of all the children/young people you care for – but please keep your feedback focussed on experiences during this school session (2022-23). Take the survey here: https://forms.gle/mr1bUaopKPF92LTc7 and please do share!
#NPFS #YourSchoolYourVoice #NationalParentForum #ScottishSchools #ParentalEngagement
Parent/Carer Survey on the Proposals of Minimum Annual Number of Learning Hours in Scottish Schools.
Scottish Government recently sent out a consultation paper for parents and carers asking for their opinion about the number of learning hours that should be set in law for young people in Scotland.
The consultation says: “learning hours are the period of teaching that learners receive within the school day. In most cases, they do not include lunch, other break times or extra-curricular activities or the provision of breakfast clubs that may take place around the core school day.”
Across the world there are only three countries which do not specify a specific number of learning hours for pupils, these countries are England, Scotland, and New Zealand.
Scottish Government are looking to set a specific number of hours of education to be provided by all local authorities in schools they have in their area. This will not include breaks, lunch or after-school clubs. At present there is a requirement for schools to be open for 190 days, with no indication of how long a day is or of how much time is spent learning.
Currently, in most schools 950 hours of teaching time is provided in primary schools, and 1045 of teaching time in secondary schools.
Link for consultation information: https://consult.gov.scot/learning-directorate/learning-hours-consultation
Please click here to complete the NPFS survey, this survey will be open until the 26th of May and the results will be shared with Scottish Government.

In just under two weeks, the NPFS Leadership Team will attend the Scottish Education Awards to present the Parent and Family Engagement Award. This award recognises work that gets parents involved in learning and school life and helps them support their children’s education in early learning, childcare, schooling and other settings.

The three finalists for the 2023 award are:

Read more about the awards here.

Hello from Cheryl, Chair, National Parent Forum Scotland

I hope you are all well. We have been busy with Phase 3 of the Independent Review of Qualifications and Assessments and have noted more information about this further down in the newsletter.
We are working on plans for this year and will be able to share them in our next newsletter.
In this edition of the NPFS Newsletter we have included some work from Port Ellen Primary School Parent Council, information about events being run by some of our partners and information about the role of NPFS Representative carry out locally to ensure that your voices are heard.
As always get in contact if you have any questions or would like any further information.
Take care
Cheryl


Every day is a new day and 2023 will bring changes in Scottish education.

Let’s talk Education: The Independent Review of Qualifications and Assessment Update

NPFS have been fully involved in all part of the Independent Review of Qualifications and Assessment. We have recently completed a report abut the findings from Phase 3 – The proposed Scottish Diploma of Achievement.

NPFS were part of a Community Collaborate Group (CCG) and worked with stakeholders including Connect to undertake parent/carer forum group meetings both online and in person, for families from schools that included ASN, Gaelic Medium, Home Schooled and ethnic minority groups.
A joint survey was issued to parents/carers and a closed Facebook page was set up to allow for further discussion about all aspects of this project. The closed Facebook page had over 600 members who engaged in conversation about the review of qualifications and assessment.

The CCG that NPFS and Connect are part of will provide SG with a full overview of the work carried out and will include the survey results including comments. Feedback from the joint survey was equal with no clear indication that parents/carers are in support of the proposed Scottish Diploma of Achievement and that it would be a good replacement for the current system in place just now.

Consensus is that parents, carers, young people, and teaching staff did not have enough information to give a definite answer that the proposed new system for Scottish education as this point would work.

The NPFS full report will be shared when it is published and we will keep you informed of what the next steps in this project will be.


News from Skills Development Scotland – New learning Provider and School Resource

SDS, SQA and the Scottish Funding Council have produced Foundation Apprenticeship guides for teachers and schools, and for learners, their parents and carers. Each guide covers a different framework. Guides include what to expect from a Foundation Apprenticeship, and how they differ from other school subjects. The links have been included in the FA delivery and FA schools Toolkits and are also available to view on our resources area on apprenticeships.scot 


News from Port Ellen Parent Council

Port Ellen Parent Council are looking to install an Outdoor ECO Community Hub offering a safe, nurturing, calm space for the community to improve emotional, social and mental wellbeing. Our vision for emotional for groups and organisations within the community to use the facility as a space to improve mental health and wellbeing. Building an environmentally friendly and sustainable structure within the school grounds that is easily accessible to all will provide this space.

This project stemmed from the Covid-19 pandemic and children coming back to school. Through conversations within our Parent Council and at the school gates it became apparent that people missed each other and the support that this gives them. We are acutely aware that Scotland’s population is facing an increase in the prevalence of mental health and wellbeing stressors. We recognise that this is no different on Islay and we aim to provide a space where people can meet together without stigma and discrimination to improve their mental health. This will be flexible hub offering a space where all age groups can come together to read, relax, dance, yoga, pray. living on an island has its challenges, one being physical affordable spaces to meet together without stigma and discrimination to improve mental health.

It cannot be stressed enough how crucial building resilience within our community impacts the future of our island. Having a facility open to those from pre-birth to the older generations creates an intergenerational link providing all with ability to learn from each other.

The promotion of Mental Health within this facility opens difficult yet important conversations in a nurturing environment, in turn helping to access various services. This could be anything from informal NHS conversations to enjoying our island heritage and culture, through drama and music.

Our hub would be fully insulated and environmentally friendly, one which is both functional and aesthetic. It has the potential to attract wildlife, harvest rainwater, and create electricity through solar panelling. Living walls will attract biodiversity and absorb CO2 and noise pollution.

To enable this project to take place Port Ellen Parent Council have applied for funding from Ardbeg Community Fund, Coop Community Funding, Spar Community Funding and National Lottery Community Fund as well as fundraising locally with Easter Egg Hunts, Bingo, Beach Cleans and many other community events.

This project is at the initial stages and has been discussed at our Parent Council, in future if this turns into a reality additional consultation on its use will be carried out with all age groups within the community.

Port Ellen Parent Council will keep us up to date on their progress!


Your Local Authority NPFS Representative

We have the opportunity to have at least one school parent / carer from every Local Authority Area to join the team to help NPFS and local parent council groups to work both at local and national level.

What do the NPFS Reps get involved in?

We have vacancies in East Lothian, Highland, Midlothian, Moray, Perth & Kinross, Renfrewshire, & West Lothian.
If you would like further information about the role of the NPFS Representative please click here or email office@npfs .org.uk

If so, you can find the contact details of all our reps here: NPFS Area Representatives – National Parent Forum of Scotland or you can email office@npfs.org.uk with details of your request and we will have someone contact you as soon as practical.


Tree of Knowledge

CALLING ALL PRIMARY SCHOOLS: ‘We’re Aff Tae The Big School’ is BACK!
Wednesday 21st June 2023 @ 13.15-14.45
As part of the National e-Learning Offer, Tree of Knowledge & E-Sgoil are bringing FUN, CONFIDENCE & INSPIRATION to EVERY P7 in SCOTLAND!
FREE to all schools, sign up https://bit.ly/TOKBIGSCHOOL2023 #TOKBigSchool


Learning Hours Consultation

Scottish Government have recently sent out a consultation paper for parents and carers asking for their opinion about the number of learning hours that should be set in law for young people in Scotland.

Across the world there are only 3 countries who do not specify a specific number of learning hours for pupils, these countries are England, Scotland, and New Zealand. Scottish Government are looking to set a specific number of hours of education to be provided by all local authorities in schools they have in their area. This will not include breaks, lunch or after-school clubs.

At present there is a requirement for schools to be open for 190 days, with no indication of how long a day is or of how much time is spent learning. Currently, in most schools 950 hours of teaching time is provided in primary schools, and 1045 of teaching time in secondary schools.

Please click the link below to complete the NPFS survey, this survey will be open until the 26th May and the results will be shared with Scottish Government.
NPFS Learning Hours Survey – Google Forms

Thank you in advance for your help with topic! 


We are currently working to update our website so that the information we share on the website is more accessible to everyone. The NPFS AGM will take place in June and we will let you know further information as soon as it is available.
And finally, best wishes to all our young people across Scotland who are sitting exams just now.
Thank you for taking the time to read our update.
Take care,
Cheryl
If you have any questions or would like any further information please contact us by emailing office@npfs.org.uk.

Parents are vital partners in education, they influence their children’s attitudes about learning and support learning at home. 
They are a vital link between home and school, and when they become involved in the life of the school they make schools a better place to learn, grow and thrive.

Our February strike action survey had nearly 7,000 respondents and showed that overall, parents still support industrial action by education workers. There is clear support for teachers across all regions, and by parents with learners of all ages. Along with that support, there are also critical comments and concerns expressed by parents and carers.

The report on our findings can be downloaded here:

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We can confirm that just under 7,000 self-identified parent/carers completed this round of our survey on industrial action. While no surveying method is truly impervious to “ballot stuffing”, we are confident that the results are a true reflection of views held by parents and carers across the whole of Scotland.

Please understand that as a volunteer organisation we are getting assistance to compile a full report of the results and will release the highlights to this as soon as practical for our team, who are also balancing their ‘real’ jobs with child care responsibility both today and tomorrow as many of our followers are.

We thank you for your interest in our surveying, general work on behalf of parents and carers across the nation, and look forward to delivering the results of this survey within the week.

Our press release on the survey closure can be downloaded here:

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We’ve opened a fresh survey to for parents and carers across Scotland from noon Thursday, February 23 to 5pm Monday, February 27.
Our aim is to gather and assess views of parents and carers across Scotland regarding the ongoing industrial action among teaching unions. As the detail of strike action has changed, we feel it is important to reach out and ask for follow-up opinions on this issue.
Please click here to have your voice heard and fill in our latest survey: https://forms.gle/XXAjruqjyjJc2qBo7

Following our snap survey about industrial action announced by teaching unions in December, we are pleased to release this summary report of the results.

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Requests for comment and/or press queries should be directed to office@npfs.org.uk

Neon sign saying "We want your feedback"

As additional strike dates have been announced, and more unions are voting for strike action which impacts schools, your NPFS Leadership Team thought it prudent to do a second snap survey to gather views from parents and carers of pupils of all ages across Scotland. Please take two minutes and let us know your thoughts in our new survey here.

The NPFS is working with Connect and representatives from all the main stakeholders in Scottish education as part of the Qualifications and Assessment Review Group, led by Professor Louise Hayward of the University of Glasgow. Read more about the review on the Scottish Government website here.

JOIN THE CONVERSATION

You can also join our co-hosted closed group Qualifications & Assessment Parent Voices on Facebook.

TAKE THE SURVEY

Or simply click here to take our survey about the Qualifications & Assessment Review.

Cover of 2022 Parent Council Resource bookletWe are pleased to announce the release of an updated Parent Council Resource pack for 2022. NPFS representatives and leadership team members worked closely with Education Scotland, Connect, and SPION to produce this new document, which answers common questions parents and new parent council members have about the roles they can play in their school communities. Additionally, you’ll find templates for commonly discussed policies and activities your parent council may find useful.
Download the document here.

NPFS Parental View of the Continuing Use of Masks in Schools – 21/01/2022

Following the NPFS Chair’s contribution to the Education, Children and Young People’s Committee on Wednesday 19th January 2022, NPFS are providing a further comment:
NPFS does not have a fixed policy position on the continued use of masks in schools. We ask that the guidance is proportionate and regularly reviewed. It is vital that our children and young people are safe and protected in school settings and that this is balanced with any wider harms. We support the guidance provided by our public health experts and continue to consult with parents and ensure their voices are heard at both local and national level.

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With other stakeholders, we have developed an information resource on LGBT inclusive education for parents and carers to help them to support their children and ensure they have a positive educational experience, using an approach underpinned by children’s rights, kindness and respect.

The National Parent Forum of Scotland have worked with the Scottish Qualification Authority (SQA) to answer questions, from parents, around the 2021 National 5, Highers and Advanced Highers Qualification delivery.
We have put together answers to some frequently asked questions on the this year’s “alternative certification model” for awarding qualifications. Please feel free to share this resource.

 

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The SQA have further information for parents and Young People about Assessments, Results and Appeals. Which can be found at

https://www.sqa.org.uk/sqa/95257.html

Our latest newsletter is out, take a look for:

  • Refreshed learning at home nutshell
  • Public Health Scotland webinar series

And more…

You can find the newsletter online here.

and to get it straight to your inbox, subscribe here.

Supporting our children’s learning at home is a struggle for many families. We  have updated our learning at home Nutshell to include up to date resources and support for families.

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The SQA has published a message for parents and carers with an update on Higher and Advanced Higher courses 2020-21

A message for parents and carers

Wednesday 16 December

On 8 December, the Deputy First Minister cancelled the Higher and Advanced Higher exams for 2021. This also means that coursework will not be marked by SQA, however it can still count as evidence of your child’s learning. We understand that you want to know what this means for your children.

The National Qualifications 2021 Group continues to meet weekly and is now working through the finer details of how Higher and Advanced Higher courses will be awarded in 2021. These courses will broadly follow the model we recently announced for National 5 results, where teachers and lecturers will use their professional judgement of your child’s evidence, subject to quality assurance.

Your child’s teacher or lecturer will be able to use subject guidance and assessment materials to help them gather evidence of your childs performance. SQA will publish these documents early in the new year to support learning and teaching.

We understand that your child may have already sat prelims or they may be due to sit prelim exams for Higher and Advanced Higher courses early in 2021. Whilst there is no requirement for schools and colleges to hold these exams, it is a school or college decision whether or not to conduct them. Results from prelims which have already been carried out or which are planned may count towards evidence of your child’s learning.

Teachers and lecturers may use various methods to measure the depth of subject learning of your child including class tests, marked assignments as well as more formal style assessments. All of these can be used as evidence to support your child’s provisional result. The school or college will decide on the best assessment approaches for gathering evidence of your child’s learning.

To stay up to date on National Qualifications in 2021, visit www.sqa.org.uk/NQ2021 where we will regularly provide additional information to support you and your child during the course of this school year.

The National Qualifications 2021 Group

The National Qualifications 2021 Group is represented by the Association of Directors of Education in Scotland (ADES), Colleges Scotland, Education Scotland, the Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS), School Leaders Scotland (SLS), the Scottish Council of Independent Schools (SCIS), Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA), the Scottish Government, National Parent Forum of Scotland (NPFS), and the Scottish Youth Parliament.

 

Further to our survey on the topic of Higher and Advanced Higher exam diet there was a clear message that an overwhelming majority (75.14%) of parents and carers wanted any decision to cancel the Higher and Advanced Higher exam diet to be made prior to Christmas and we welcome the Deputy First Minister’s decision to make a prompt announcement.

We note that of the five thousand parents that responded there is strong confidence in the judgement of teachers to predict grades for children and young people with an overwhelming number of participants identifying confidence in the judgement of teaching staff should predicted grades be used as part of the Higher and Advanced Higher awards (23.36% a great deal, 31.70% a lot) 

The Deputy First Minister also announced that for 2020–21, National 5 results will be based on teacher and lecturer judgement supported by a robust set of checks — or quality assurance — which will be carried out by your child’s school or college, local authority and SQA.

The National Parent Forum of Scotland forms part of the National Qualifications 2021 Group along side Education Scotland, Scottish Government, Scottish Youth Parliament, SQA, Local Authorities, School Leaders Scotland, Colleges Scotland, Scottish Council for Independent Schools and the EIS teaching union.  The National Qualifications 2021 Group has overseen the development of the quality assurance process which will support teachers and lecturers in providing your child’s provisional results for session 2020–21. Updates from the group are available through www.sqa.org.uk/NQ2021.

We feel that this is a pragmatic approach to a fair and equitable outcome for all senior phase pupils.

We know from our correspondence with parents and carers across the country, that our young people are encountering difficult circumstances in their day to day learning, with self-isolation of both pupils and staff impacting their health and wellbeing at this critical time in their lives. 

We hope this timeous decision will enable pupils, teachers and the SQA to have adequate time and resources to achieve the results that are deserved and will be a key to opening up further opportunities for the young people.  Positive destinations are vitally important to all young people and we understand that this is a challenge at any time, not least during the COVID pandemic. 

 

Due to the overwhelming response we have had from parents we are really pleased to have a representative sample from across the country.  We are keen to share our findings and so we are closing our survey on Tuesday evening at midnight.

If you would like your views to be shared, please take a minute to complete our survey now. Thank you

 

We are looking to capture the views of the Parents and Carers of pupils sitting Highers and/or Advanced Highers, to help us establish how COVID has impacted on their learning and preparation for their exams in 2021

It is clear that COVID is impacting everyone differently across the various Local Authority regions and in some schools the level of disruption to our young people’s learning is significant, yet in other areas of the country there is little impact. With that in mind we would like to know to what extent, if any, parents and carers are concerned about the impact the current health restrictions will have on their child’s preparation for Higher and Advanced Higher exams. We are looking to establish if there is any differences of opinions between the different Local Authority areas, so please take a minute to complete this short survey in full.

 

Below is the link to our survey which has a closing date of  the 24th November 2020 – please share.

https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/3HFM9K9

 

We really need to hear your voice!

 

Should you wish any further information on the National Parent Forum of Scotland or would like a copy of our findings once published, please visit our website or email us using the address below.

 

Thank you

National Parent Forum of Scotland

www.npfs.org.uk                          questions@npfs.org.uk

Scottish parents’ groups join forces to call for the current level of teacher qualifications in Scotland to be maintained under the terms of the Internal Market Bill
The National Parent Forum of Scotland and Connect, share the General Teaching Council of Scotland’s (GTCS) concerns regarding the possible impact of the Internal Market Bill on Scottish education. We support the GTCS’s call for the current level of teacher qualifications to be maintained in Scotland: this is under threat because of the terms of the Internal Market Bill.
The Scottish education system has always been distinct from the English system, and teachers qualifying in Scotland are required to gain a degree or equivalent before they can register to teach. This is not the case in England and the Bill proposes that professionals who are recognised as such in one part of the UK should be treated the same in the other parts of the UK.
We believe many parents will be concerned by this proposal and that the exemptions already provided in the Bill to protect the status of the Scottish legal professions should be extended to teaching.

 

We are looking to capture the views of the Parents and Carers of pupils sitting Highers and/or Advanced Highers, to help us establish how COVID has impacted on their learning and preparation for their exams in 2021

It is clear that COVID is impacting everyone differently across the various Local Authority regions and in some schools the level of disruption to our young people’s learning is significant, yet in other areas of the country there is little impact. With that in mind we would like to know to what extent, if any, parents and carers are concerned about the impact the current health restrictions will have on their child’s preparation for Higher and Advanced Higher exams. We are looking to establish if there is any differences of opinions between the different Local Authority areas, so please take a minute to complete this short survey in full.

 

Below is the link to our survey which has a closing date of  the 30th November 2020 – please share.

https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/3HFM9K9

 

We really need to hear your voice!

 

Should you wish any further information on the National Parent Forum of Scotland or would like a copy of our findings once published, please visit our website or email us using the address below.

 

Thank you

National Parent Forum of Scotland

www.npfs.org.uk                          questions@npfs.org.uk

The National Parent Forum of Scotland (NPFS) understands the difficult decisions being taken regarding the exam diet planned for 2021.  As an organisation we have contributed to the Priestly review as well as being consultees in the process to find the best way forward for our children and young people. 

As the body representing Parents across Scotland’s public schools, we recently undertook a snap poll of Secondary School Parent Councils to gauge the views of parents and carers in advance of today’s announcement.  

 

Over 80% of Parent Councils who responded to our poll were opposed to the full exam sitting being forced through irrespective of the public health situation at the time.

It was clear that over 70% of respondents wished for Higher and Advanced Highers to be prioritised, given the importance of this stage of the senior phase in education. 

A narrow majority of respondents sought to have all exams be cancelled, using teacher assessment and professional judgement be used to estimate the grade expected to be awarded for each candidate. 

Clearly evident in our findings is that parents, carers and teaching professionals need to be informed as early as possible in order to mitigate the difficulties experienced with the 2020 examination diet and to allow our children and young people to attain the awards that they are entitled to expect from their level of work in these difficult times.  

 

Speaking about today’s announcement, NPFS Chair Margaret Wilson said

“There is no decision today that is going to please everyone in this situation; whether parents/carers, teachers and support staff and most importantly our children and young people.  The pressures faced by families, coping with stress created by the pandemic, sometimes losing employment, supporting home learning whilst balancing many other issues has been significant.  Our young people have been through a significantly stressful time and we welcome the timing of this announcement which we trust will give sufficient time for our teachers, schools and education authorities to make sufficient plans.  Most importantly we trust that our children and young people will secure confidence in knowing that there is a plan to ensure that appropriate grades are awarded which directly reflect their level of learning, not their postcode or the past performance of their school.”

Further information on the processes to be put in place by the SQA as referred to by the Deputy First Minister are available at 

https://www.sqa.org.uk/sqa/95281.html

 

 

*NOTES TO EDITORS*

The National Parent Forum of Scotland is a national body led by and for parents. It is an influential national and independent body, working on behalf of parents with children in education across Scotland to help every pre-school and school pupil maximise their potential.

The National Parent Forum of Scotland is comprised of volunteer parent/carer representatives 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 by engaging with them and parent councils, and we are involved in working with both 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 aim to fairly represent all parents, and we appreciate that there are a wide range of views and opinions.

Our latest newsletter is out! Take a look for:

And more…

You can find the newsletter online here.

and to get it straight to your inbox, subscribe here.

As with all organisations there comes a time for knowledgable, dedicated people to leave for pastures new. Four volunteers stepped down at our AGM in September, having worked on an impressive range of projects and fed into all of our work to see improvements in education for all families. They have also been relentless in their work to support their local authorities and their fellow volunteers here at the National Parent Forum of Scotland (NPFS). We are indeed losing true assets of the NPFS, but we are sure that their selfless volunteering for families will further extend to other areas of their community.

At the NPFS we strive to help every child to maximise their potential through their school life, and the work that these reps have been involved in is testament to that.

Charlotte, Eric, Joe and Ian, thank you for you work on the Education (Scotland) Act 2016; Making Maths Count; Scottish Qualifications Authority Advisory Group; National Improvement Framework; Time for Inclusive Education and LGBT education awareness; the National Action plan on Parental involvement; Parental Engagement and Family Learning; Curriculum, Learning, Teaching and Assessment (CLTA) National Forum; tackling bullying, and work around family learning with physical education to name but a few.

We would like to thank Charlotte Harrison, Joseph McLachlan, Eric Lumsden, and Ian Aitchison for their work and to wish them health and happiness going forward.

We are pleased that we have new reps to cover the East Renfrewshire and Scottish Borders areas.  We hope that the Parent Council’s of Orkney and West Lothian will put forward a parent volunteer to continue the work of parental representation.

*NOTES TO EDITORS*

The National Parent Forum of Scotland is a national body led by and for parents. It is an influential national and independent body, working on behalf of parents with children in education across Scotland to help every pre-school and school pupil maximise their potential.

The National Parent Forum of Scotland is comprised of volunteer parent/carer representatives 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 by engaging with them and parent councils, and we are involved in working with both 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 aim to fairly represent all parents, and we appreciate that there are a wide range of views and opinions.

The National Parent Forum of Scotland (NPFS) is delighted to announce that Margaret Wilson has been appointed as the new Chair of the Forum at the annual general meeting (AGM) on Saturday 19th September 2020.

NPFS Chair Margaret Wilson (L) and Deputy First Minister and Cabinet Secretary for Education and Skills John Swinney (R), June 2019

Margaret has been the NPFS representative for the Falkirk Council area for the last 10 years, and has served as a Vice-Chair of the NPFS for the past 15 months. In her considerable time with the NPFS Margaret has represented parents’ at the Curriculum and Assessment Board, the First Minister’s Reading Challenge, the Education Leadership Forum, and workstreams on the Covid-19 Education Recovery Group.

Margaret has also made a considerable contribution in her role as Chair of the Falkirk Area Parent Forum. In recent months, Margaret hosted a successful online Q&A, posing parents’ questions about the return to school to Officers of Falkirk Council. Margaret was also instrumental in representing parents during critical budgetary changes within her Local Authority. This in turn encouraged other Local Authorities to ensure that the views and experiences of children, young people, and their families are at the forefront of their minds when making policy and budgetary decisions. Margaret’s championing of the Voice of Parents in the Falkirk Area was acknowledged in 2018 with an invitation to the Queen’s Garden Party in Holyrood.

 

As a mother to three children of both primary and secondary age, Margaret is well placed to understand the rewards and challenges of parenting, and her family are kept busy with lots of out of school activities.Margaret is supported by a strong Leadership Team who were also appointed at the AGM this month. We are pleased to announce that Cheryl Burnett, South Lanarkshire representative, has been re-appointed to her role as Vice-Chair, and Fiona Nicholson, Shetland Representative, is returning to the role of Vice-Chair. The NPFS are also pleased to welcome three new Vice-Chair’s to the leadership team, Susan Bell, representative for South Ayrshire, David MacDonald, representative for Renfrewshire and Barrie Sheppard, representative for North Lanarkshire. Between them the leadership team have over 30 years of experience as representatives for  the NPFS, and throughout this time they have both witnessed and been involved with an exceptionally wide range of changes and challenges to Scottish Education.

 

The NPFS would like to take this opportunity to thank our outgoing Chair and Glasgow Representative Joanna Murphy. Joanna has been an active member of the Forum since its formation in 2009 and has served as both Vice-Chair (2013-2016) and as Chair (2016-2020) of the forum. Joanna has made a considerable contribution to parental involvement and engagement in education throughout her years with the NPFS, including overseeing the development of the ‘In a Nutshell’ publications, overseeing the Review of the Impact of the Scottish Schools (Parental Involvement Act) 2006, and contributing to the development of the Learning Together National Action Plan on parental involvement and engagement. Joanna has also been involved in promoting support for children and young people’s mental health and well-being, Parental and School Empowerment, and LGBTQ+ rights. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic Joanna and the NPFS have been proactive in ensuring that the parent voice is heard, representing the NPFS on the Scottish Government Covid-19 Education Recovery Group. Joanna also hosted two online Q&A sessions with the Deputy First Minister, posing questions which had been submitted by parents from all over Scotland.

The NPFS wishes Joanna all the best in her future endeavours, and thank her for her dedication to the organization and its role in encouraging parental engagement and involvement.

 

The direct contact details for the new Leadership Team are as follows:
CHAIR

Margaret Wilson,      chair@npfs.org.uk

VICE-CHAIRS

Cheryl Burnett,                       south.lanarkshire@npfs.org.uk
Fiona Nicholson,                    shetland@npfs.org.uk
David MacDonald,                 renfrewshire@npfs.org.uk
Susan Bell,                              south.ayrshire@npfs.org.uk
Barrie Sheppard,                    north.Lanarkshire@npfs.org.uk

 

For all general enquiries, please contact the NPFS Office Team on office@npfs.org.uk

NPFS Representatives with the Deputy First Minster and Cabinet Secretary for Education and Skills John Swinney, June 2019

 

 

*NOTES TO EDITORS*

The National Parent Forum of Scotland is a national body led by and for parents. It is an influential national and independent body, working on behalf of parents with children in education across Scotland to help every pre-school and school pupil maximise their potential.

The National Parent Forum of Scotland is comprised of volunteer parent/carer representatives 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 by engaging with them and parent councils, and we are involved in working with both 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 aim to fairly represent all parents, and we appreciate that there are a wide range of views and opinions.

The National Parent Forum of Scotland (NPFS) hosted another live Q&A webinar with John Swinney, Deputy First Minister and Cabinet Secretary for Education and Skills, yesterday (Thursday, 10th September).

 

This event was scheduled due to the overwhelming response to the Q&A in June. Parents and carers were again invited to post questions to the NPFS in advance, and these were put to Mr. Swinney by NPFS Chair, Joanna Murphy.

 

The discussion covered a variety of topics and issues, including: public health measures in schools, the curriculum, help for children with additional support needs (ASN) and/or English as an additional language (EAL), progression and SQA examinations, contingency planning for Covid-19 lockdowns, parental engagement, and early learning and childcare (ELC).

 

A recording of the webinar is available online here.

 

Today our Chair, Joanna Murphy, said:

 

“I would like to thank Mr. Swinney for agreeing to take part in another Q&A with the NPFS, and I am pleased so many parents were able to join us. It is very helpful for parents to be able to submit questions directly for him to answer.

 

I think this shows parents’ strength of feeling on education, including all the issues relating to the impact of COVID-19. As a parent myself, I 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, frustrated with the lack of consistency from local authorities and struggling with the financial impact on our families.

 

The NPFS appreciates that the opinions of parents can vary, and we saw that from the comments posted during our Q&A. But 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 continues to be heard.

 

We appreciate that these are still difficult times and that many things are not likely to be back to normal in our schools for some time. We understand that this is concerning for parents, and we need our schools to keep up their frequent communications to us. Local authorities should also continue with the hard work of implementing creative solutions to tackle challenges as they arise, to ensure the very best possible outcome for Scotlands children and young people.”

 

 

 

*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.

 

 

 

Thank you for watching our online Q&A with Deputy First Minister John Swinney on the 10th September 2020. We are pleased so many parents took time to get involved in the session. We hope that the Q&A answered many of your questions.

For those unable to attend the session live or who would like to watch again, you can watch the Q&A in full on the NPFS YouTube channel here. There will also be the option to add subtitles on the recorded YouTube video.

Thank you to everyone who submitted questions – we read and collated all of them but, unfortunately, it was simply not possible to ask them all. We therefore posed questions that aimed to reflect the wide range of the questions we received. If you are looking for more information, we hope the links to the information below are helpful. If these resources do not answer your questions, please do not hesitate to contact us on questions@npfs.org.uk, where we will try to answer your question or pass this on to someone who can help.

Resources:

Transcript:

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and to get it straight to your inbox, subscribe here.

The National Parent Forum of Scotland is delighted to announce, after the popularity of the event in June, that we are hosting another  live Q&A with John Swinney, Deputy First Minister and Cabinet Secretary for Education and Skills.

The event will take place on Thursday 10th September 2020, 7pm – 8.30pm, and it is an opportunity for parents to receive answers to their questions about education, and the way forward this coming year.

NPFS Chair, Joanna Murphy, will be directing questions live to Mr Swinney. These questions will be collected from parents in advance of the meeting, so please make sure you have emailed your question(s). This is to ensure we cover as many issues and concerns as possible.

Please submit your questions in advance to questions@npfs.org.uk. We anticipate a high volume of questions, and therefore it may not be possible to answer each one we receive, however we will endeavour to ask questions that are representative of the range of questions we receive.

To register for the event, please click here.

If you are unable to attend on the evening, the Q&A will be uploaded in full to the NPFS youtube channel shortly after broadcasting. There will also be the option to view the Q&A with subtitles on the youtube video.

Our latest newsletter is out! Take a look for:

And more…

You can find the newsletter online here.

and to get it straight to your inbox, subscribe here.

The NPFS is pleased that overall pass rates have increased from last year but recognise that young people and their parents may have questions about the results, especially as a number of the marks have been adjusted by the SQA. Your school is the main contact for help or advice, and the SQA and Skills Development Scotland (SDS) are providing information and helplines. We’ve supplied links to these below. We’re also planning to have a live Q&A for parents, so questions can be directed to the SQA.

Today NPFS Chair, Joanna Murphy, said:

“Congratulations to all of our learners on their hard work. This has been an uncertain time for our children and young people. They’ve had a lot to cope with so, whatever their academic result, I hope they’re all very proud of themselves.

“As a parent of an S5 pupil, I understand how worried parents and carers have been about the impact school closures and cancelled exams has had on our children. Their health and wellbeing is what’s most important, so we need to make sure they get all the support they need. Our children have achieved a lot and in very challenging circumstances. These achievements need to be recognised and celebrated as they move forward with their lives, whether that’s towards work or further learning.”

Information from the SQA can be found here: https://www.sqa.org.uk/sqa/65952.html

The Skills Development Scotland helpline is open from 8am to 8pm on Tuesday 4th and Wednesday 5th August and from 9am to 5pm on the 6th, 7th, 10th, 11th and 12th August. Advisers will be offering advice, information and support for young people and their parents and carers. The number to call is 0808 100 8000.

There’s also lots of support on Scotland’s careers website, My World of Work: https://www.myworldofwork.co.uk

You will find a lot of useful information on the NPFS website, including:
• Publications on learning and careers: https://www.npfs.org.uk/downloads/
• A back to school guide for parents: https://www.npfs.org.uk/2020/07/23/back-to-school-guidance-for-parents-and-carers/
• Back to school webinars to help you support your child’s learning and the transition back to full-time school: https://www.npfs.org.uk/2020/07/31/back-to-school-webinars/

• You can also sign-up to the NPFS newsletter. This will keep you up to date with Scottish education and events, including a series of live NPFS parent Q&As: https://www.npfs.org.uk/join-our-mailing-list/

 

*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 on measures being put in place for going back to school and the plans for blended learning as a contingency in case future lockdowns are required. It is the view of the NPFS that the safety and wellbeing of our children is of paramount importance and 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.

Sometimes what our children are learning seems different to when we were in school. Parents – you’re not expected to be teachers – but it can be helpful to have some methods and techniques to solve maths problem.

We’ve worked with ‘Count On Us’, with support from Education Scotland and the Making Maths Count Group, to provide parents with the opportunity to learn methods and techniques to help your children to visualise maths problems and solve them. These learning together sessions are designed for parents to learn alongside their children – and are inclusive for parents and children alike!

Recorded in June, these session are an excellent resource to help prepare for the transition back to full-time school in August!

Take a look at the three ‘Back to School’ sessions below, designed to help you and your children before school starts. On each page you will find links to a range of resources to support your child’s numeracy and maths, as well as links to the Count On Us webinar recordings – providing you with a video to learn along with and revisit whenever you like!

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For a Glossary of Numeracy terms, please use the document from Education Scotland below:

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Join us online between the 5th-12th August for a series of online webinars in a range of topics including Creativity, Literacy, and STEM, for parents and children – helping you to support their learning and the transition back to full-time school.

Designed for Parents to help you to support your child’s learning, we invite you to learn together with your child(ren) in preparation for the new school year. All are welcome!

Follow the links below to sign up – please note you will have to register for each individual session that you would like to attend:

Wednesday 5th August 10am – Astronomy – Inspiring Pupils in Science, Glasgow Science Centre (Upper Primary/Secondary)

Wednesday 5th August 2pm– Unlocking the Potential of Picture Books, Scottish Book Trust (Lower Primary, ages 5-7)

Thursday 6th August 10am Creativity, Education Scotland (Primary)

Friday 7th August 10am – Bridging Picture Books and Chapter Books, Scottish Book Trust (Middle primary, ages 7-9)

Friday 7th August 2pm – Kitchen Chemistry, Aberdeen Science Centre (P2-P5)

Monday 10th August 11am – STEM Skills and Creativity with Dynamic Earth: Climate Science and Geology, Dynamic Earth (P7-S1)

Monday 10th August 2pm – ‘Feel the Forces’, Aberdeen Science Centre (P2-P5)

Tuesday 11th August 10am – Reigniting your Child’s Reading, Scottish Book Trust (Upper primary, ages 9-11)

Tuesday 11th August 2pm – Engaging Teens with Reading (Lower secondary, ages 12-14)

Wednesday 12th August 10am – Inspire and Challenge: Developing Scientific Thinking, Glasgow Science Centre (Upper Primary/Secondary)

Wednesday 12th 2pm – STEM Futures – Skills for Careers in Science, Glasgow Science Centre (Secondary)

 

All of our sessions will be recorded and available on our YouTube channel shortly after broadcast here.

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Thursday, 30th July 2020

 

Guidelines published for a full-time return to school

 

Scottish Government confirmed today that all children and young people will be returning to school full-time from 11th August.

The decision, as stated in the announcement, was based on scientific advice. The number of coronavirus cases is very low so, at this time, the benefits to children and their families of returning to school outweigh the risks of the virus coming back. The plans for Blended Learning (a mix of learning in school and at home) are to remain as a contingency, in case there is a need to temporarily close schools in the future.

The announcement coincided with the publishing of guidelines for schools. These were created in collaboration with Scottish Government, local education authorities, teaching unions, professional organisations and the National Parent Forum of Scotland.

The guidelines for returning to school, in full, are available for the Scottish Government website here: [link].

A parent version is available from the National Parent Forum of Scotland (NPFS) here: https://www.npfs.org.uk/2020/07/23/back-to-school-guidance-for-parents-and-carers/

In Scottish Parliament today, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, said:

“It is a moral and educational imperative that we get children back to school as soon as is safely possible. In fact, a key reason for our cautious approach to lockdown easing over the past two months—and, indeed, over the next few weeks—is the determination to drive the virus down as low as possible and keep prevalence low so that schools can reopen safely in August.

 “I am therefore very pleased to confirm today that schools will return from 11 August. Given how long children have been out of school, some local authorities may opt for a phased return over the first few days, but we expect all pupils to be at school full time from 18 August at the latest. “

Today our Chair, Joanna Murphy, said:

“These have been challenging times for all of us. Parents are worried about the effect this pandemic has had on our children and young people. The NPFS was pleased to be invited onto the Coronavirus Education Recovery Group (CERG), and we have been involved in several workstreams. We have worked hard to communicate the full variety of views from parents. Although parents sometimes disagree on the best approach and the decisions made, we all have the best interests of our children at heart.

“It will be good to return to a bit more normality, but we appreciate that many parents will be worried about their children returning to school. We all need to remember that and be sympathetic to one another’s circumstances.

“What is most important, is that we have high-quality educational provision that does not compromise the health and well-being of our children. The virus has not gone away so schools and local authorities must continue to put rigorous contingency plans in place to reduce the risk of our children’s education being compromised in the future and ensure that sustaining everyone’s health and well-being remains the key focus of all our efforts.”

 

 

 

 

*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 on measures being put in place for going back to school and the plans for blended learning as a contingency in case future lockdowns are required. It is the view of the NPFS that the safety and wellbeing of our children is of paramount importance and 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.

Parents and carers will have many questions about the coming school term. This guide will answer as many of these questions as possible and give parents and carers a better idea of how the new school term will look and feel for children and for parents and families.

Please note: This guidance has been updated to take account of changes effective from 31st August 2020.

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and to get it straight to your inbox, subscribe here.

Parents, we want to hear from you!

We are running a survey to gather your views. We want to hear about your experiences of supporting learning at home before the summer, what has worked well and what has not worked so well, and your thoughts and views on the return to school in August.

We are aware that the plans for returning to school are still being developed, and further details are yet to be announced, but we think it is important to get your thoughts on these issues now. This, alongside all of the feedback we have received from parents through our local representatives and those who have contacted us to share their views via email or social media, will help inform our work in representing parents, including at the Covid-19 Education Recovery Group.

To take part in the survey, please click here or scan the QR code below:

 

In June 2020 Angela Morgan’s Review into Additional Support for Learning ASL) was published. The NPFS is pleased to have had the opportunity to gather and share parents’ views with Angela Morgan, and welcome the recommendations made in the review. You can find out more about the research we undertook ahead of the review, and read our report of parents’ views and experiences from ur Focus Groups here.

The publication of this review is vital to ensuring that the implementation of ASL is effective in schools and ensures all children have their needs met. It is therefore important that these recommendations are not lost, and therefore we will be highlighting the recommendations made about relationships with parents and carers. You can see a summary of feedback we gathered from parents and the recommendations in the video below:

Cheryl Burnett, vice-chair of the NPFS said “As a parent of a child with Additional Support Needs (ASN), I have first-hand experience of the challenge’s children, young people, their parents, and families face to ensure that their needs are met. Throughout my time as the NPFS representative for South Lanarkshire and as Vice-Chair, I have had the opportunity to speak with so many parents of children with additional support needs. When I meet with them there is almost always one common theme: they are tired of having to battle for their child to receive the support that they need and deserve.

 

“I am a passionate advocate for children, young people, and their families with ASN, and I am proud to have the opportunity to represent parents at a national level. Too often parents of children with ASN do not feel heard, our concerns are dismissed, and professionals fail to recognise that we are the experts in our families lives and deserve to be involved as equal partners in our child’s learning and support.

 

“For these reasons, I was pleased with the announcement in January 2019 that a review into Additional Support for Learning (ASL) would be taking place. The legislation to support children with ASN is not necessarily the challenge, it is the reality of how these policies are implemented in our Local Authorities, Schools, and individual classrooms that required review. The Scottish Government’s commitment to Getting it Right for Every Child (GIRFEC) is excellent in principle, unfortunately in reality GIRFEC has not been happening in practice.

 

“I am a volunteer for the NPFS, and the only parent who sits on the Additional Support for Learning Implementation Group (ASLIG), as well as taking part in a range of groups relating to ASN, where I have the opportunity to represent parents of children with ASN’s views and experiences at a national level. To fulfil my duties in this group, it is so important that I get to hear the views of different parents from across Scotland. I am constantly hearing from parents online, via email, and who I meet at events about their experiences of ASL and providing information about where to find support and advice.

 

“At a Perth Q&A session the NPFS hosted with Deputy First Minister John Swinney in October 2019, we heard so many questions and heart-breaking stories from parents of children with ASN, who felt they had not been listened to and that their children’s needs were not being met. Following this Q&A, we arranged with Angela Morgan to host Focus Group with parents across Scotland to inform her review. In January 2020, we were overwhelmed by the response from parents who wanted to come and share their stories. We held six focus groups across Scotland in Aberdeen, Aberdeenshire, Glasgow, Edinburgh, Dumfries, and Inverness. We would like to thank every single person who came to share their experiences with us, and all of those who emailed or sent us messages, we appreciate this isn’t easy to do. What we learned from the focus groups was that everyone’s experience is unique and individual, however there were also common themes: parents not feeling listened to, parents looking for reasonable adjustments for their child, wanting empathy and working relationships with their schools, and ultimately for their children to thrive. All of this and more was included in our report submitted to Angela Morgan.

 

“It is crucial that parents are involved as equal partners in their child’s education, learning, and support, and I welcomed the opportunity to input into the recommendations for ‘Relationships between Schools and Parents and Carers’ included in the final review. I am pleased that these recommendations highlight the importance of working with parents, and of listening to and acknowledging our lived experience and knowledge. I am also pleased to see the recommendation for further support for families, and to promote the use of mediation to ensure that we can build relationships and work together.

 

“I also welcome the overarching recommendation for children and young people to be listened to and involved, and I am particularly pleased with the recognition in the review that achievements and successes of children and young people with ASN need to be both recognised and celebrated equally to the way that we recognise attainment and exam results.

 

“The publication of Angela Morgan’s review is a landmark, and an opportunity to improve how ASL is implemented going forwards to ensure that children and families are supported and have their needs met. It is vital that the stories that fed into this review are not forgotten, and that despite the challenges of Covid-19, the recommendations are not lost. I know from my own experiences that the school closures and Covid-19 have proved challenging for many young people with ASN, and the impact of the lockdown will likely result in more children requiring additional support as we all transition back towards a more recognisable way of living. Therefore, the current crisis highlights rather than overshadows the importance of this review, as the recommendations have become even more relevant than before.”

 

 

 

 

 

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

Since hosting the Q&A, it was announced by the Deputy First Minister John Swinney on the 23rd July 2020 that the Scottish Government’s aim is for schools to re-open full-time in August, depending on scientific advice that it is safe to do so. Due to this, the answers to some of the questions within the Q&A need to be taken in the context of being answered prior to the announcement on the 23rd June.

However, many of the answers and much of the discussion detailed in full below remains relevant, and we hope that you find it helpful. The Scottish Government are due to announce on the 30th July 2020 the finals plan for the 11thAugust: either a full return or through the blended model based on the scientific advice available.

We appreciate all of your questions, comments, and feedback, and thank you to all of those who took part in the Q&A session. A full transcript of the Q&A is available below. We have also provided a list of questions and suggestions taken from the Chat Box during the webinar, and the results from the polls taken during the session.

We received a large number of questions by email and social media prior to the event, we are in the process of compiling all of these and will share them in the coming weeks. All of your questions and views will be added to our bank of parent feedback to inform our ongoing work representing parents.

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Today, John Swinney, the Deputy First Minister and Cabinet Secretary for Education and Skills announced in the Scottish Parliament that the Scottish Government’s aim is for children to return to school full-time, depending on scientific advice that it is safe to do so, in August.

 

Covid-19 has presented us all with many challenges, and the closure of schools in March 2020 has had a profound impact on children, young people, parents, carers, and families across Scotland in many different ways. These past few months will have resulted in many families facing a range of difficulties, as well as sometimes highlighting strengths.

 

The strength of feeling amongst parents is understandable. 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.

 

Our Chair, Joanna Murphy, said:

 

“Although parents may sometimes disagree on the best approach and the decisions made, as we have seen throughout our work representing parents, we all have the best interests of our children at heart. We all need to remember that and be sympathetic to one another’s circumstances. What is most important, is that we have high-quality educational provision that does not compromise the health and well-being of our children. The virus has not gone away so schools and local authorities must continue to put rigorous contingency plans in place to reduce the risk of our children’s education being compromised in the future and ensure that sustaining everyone’s health and well-being remains the key focus of all our efforts.”

 

 

Angela Morgan’s Additional Support for Learning (ASL) Review has been published. The NPFS are pleased to have been involved in the review to ensure that parent’s voices were heard and represented within the review and the recommendations made.

To contribute to the review, the NPFS conducted Focus Groups across Scotland in January, the findings from which were shared with Angela Morgan. You can read the report of our six Focus Groups (Aberdeen, Aberdeenshire, Glasgow, Edinburgh, Dumfries, and Inverness) in full at the bottom of this page. Thank you to every parent who took part and shared their stories and experiences with us.

The NPFS also has a representative on the Additional Support for Learning Implementation Group (ASLIG) and, conducted a parent ASL survey in 2018. The results of the survey were also shared with Angela Morgan to inform to review and can be found here.

You can read Angela Morgan’s Review ‘Support for Learning: All Our Children and All Their Potential’ in full here. The NPFS will be sharing key information for parents from the review in the coming days.

 

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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 Scotlands 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.

Q&A with Deputy First Minister John Swinney: Further Information and Resources for Parents and Carers

 

Thank you for watching our online Q&A with Deputy First Minister John Swinney about education during Covid-19, the return to school in August, and blended learning. We are pleased so many parents took time to get involved in the session. We hope that the Q&A answered many of your questions.

For those unable to attend the session live or who would like to watch again, you can watch the Q&A in full on the NPFS YouTube channel here. There will also be the option to add subtitles on the recorded YouTube video.

Thank you to everyone who submitted questions; we received vast numbers from parents across Scotland. These will be available to view on our website in due course, together with the additional questions and statements raised within the Q&A.

We read and collated all of your questions but, unfortunately, it was simply not possible to ask them all. We therefore posed questions that aimed to reflect the wide range of the questions we received. If you are looking for more information, we hope the links to the information below are helpful. If these resources do not answer your questions, please do not hesitate to contact us on office@npfs.org.uk, where we will try to answer your question or pass this on to someone who can help.

Resources:

 

 

 

 

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Wednesday, 10th June 2020

NPFS hosts parents’ Q&A with John Swinney (DFM)

The National Parent Forum of Scotland (NPFS) is hosting a Q&A webinar with John Swinney, Deputy First Minister and Cabinet Secretary for Education and Skills, which will take place on Tuesday, 16th June at 7pm.

The event will focus 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 can register for the event through the NPFS website and are invited to post questions in advance through social media or email (details are provided below). A recording of the webinar will be available online for parents unable to attend on the day.

Today our Chair, Joanna Murphy, said:

“Parents have risen to the challenge that Covid19 forced on them but this has been a deeply worrying time for us all in many ways, not least the effect on our children’s education.

“I am confident that schools will make this year’s ‘back to school’ feel as normal as possible for our children but the reality is it will be different. The new ‘blended’ model of in-school and home learning will ensure that all children and young people will benefit from face to face contact with their teachers and friends in their school setting for part of the time, with continued learning at home support for parents in the remainder.

“As a member of the Education Recovery Group I have tried to represent the parent voice, but many questions still need to be answered. This is a fantastic opportunity for parents to ask the Cabinet Secretary questions about issues that are important to them and directly affect their children.”

Deputy First Minister, John Swinney, said:

“Parents are working incredibly hard to support pupils through these extraordinary times and we thank them for that.

“Parental engagement has a vital role in children’s learning and development and this period of school closures and learning at home has reinforced this.

“I look forward to answering some of these important questions on Tuesday and continuing to ensure that parents have the information and assurances they need to support their children’s return to school.”

If you would like to register, please follow this link: https://zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_Jr1M5-1hTLmVw6x86ZlWnA

*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.

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We know that parents are working hard to balance the challenges of Covid-19 and whilst we are not expected to be teachers, our support in promoting and engaging our children in their learning, continues to be of great importance. We are also aware that when supporting learning at home, many parents report that they find maths a particular challenge.   Parents have highlighted that they often lack confidence with numeracy and mathematics, perhaps as a result of their own experiences at school, or as a result of children learning maths in ways that may differ from how they remember being taught.

 

Whatever our confidence level is – numeracy and mathematics continues to be very important to our daily lives, whether that’s managing money, baking or sports.

 

The NPFS is working in partnership with  ‘Count On Us’ with the Support of Education Scotland to bring 8 online numeracy and mathematics events for parents in June 2020. These ‘Learning Together’ sessions will focus on the use of interactive and visual methods to help you and your child confidently engage with numeracy and mathematics problems, whilst supporting learning at home.

 

Deputy First Minister John Swinney said: “This initiative from the National Parent Forum Scotland perfectly captures the leadership and creativity of our education partnerships in Scotland and I am pleased to see it introduced.

“This approach brings to life the key themes of our Learning Together report on parental engagement and our Making Maths Count report produced by the National Profile-Raising Group on Mathematics.”

 

These free events are intended for parents with children currently working at First level: Primary 2 – 4 (P2, P3, P4) or Second level:Primary 5 -7 (P5, P6, P7)  numeracy and mathematics, as outlined within Curriculum for Excellence (CfE).   The content of each session has been produced in consultation with Education Scotland to complement the wide range of learning activities, provided by local authorities and schools during this current context.  The sessions will cover themes that are explored within CfE across the age ranges of five and twelve years of age.  However, as children move through levels at their own developmental pace, parents with children currently outwith this age range may also find the session beneficial and are also invited to attend.

 

Each session will be delivered by Chris McKenna, founder and Director of ‘Count On Us’ Education. Chris has been involved in maths education in a variety of roles including Principal Teacher of Maths and as a Lead Numeracy Development officer at South Ayrshire Council. ‘Count On Us’ have worked with most local authorities in Scotland and have engaged with over 300 schools delivering educational support for learners, teachers and parents with overwhelmingly positive feedback. You can find out more about Count On Us on their website: https://www.countonus.org.uk

 

The themes, dates and times, and sign up links for the session are as follows:

1. 5thJune ’20     10am- 10.45am           Theme: Early Number Development

2. 9thJune ’20     10am- 10.45am           Theme: Addition and Subtraction

3. 11thJune ’20    10am- 10.45am          Theme: Multiplication and Division

4. 16thJune ’20    10am- 10.45am          Theme: Fractions, Decimal Fractions & Percentages (Part 1 of 3)                                                                               

5. 18thJune ’20    10am- 10.45am          Theme: Fractions, Decimal Fractions & Percentages (Part 2 of 3)                                                          

6. 19thJune ’20    10am- 10.45am          Theme: Fractions, Decimal Fractions & Percentages (Part 3 of 3)     

7. 23rdJune ’20     10am- 10.45am         Theme: Algebra                                                                            

8. 25thJune ’20, 10am- 10.45am           Theme: Problem Solving & Word Problems using Bar Modelling Approach                                                                                 

Missed a session? – Visit our Youtube

All of the sessions are uploaded to the NPFS youtube channel shortly afterwards. You can find them all in our playlist here.

 

For further information and support with learning at home and maths resources visit:

Parent Club Scotland 

Count On Us

Education Scotland’s ‘Scotland Learns’

Feedback from parents during lockdown

 

The NPFS has been working hard to keep parents and carers informed throughout the lockdown period, via our website, newsletters and social media, and we have been gathering parents’ views and concerns on an ongoing basis. We are very grateful for the time parents have taken to communicate with us, and the valuable suggestions they have made for improving the support for our children during this challenging time.

The engagement from parents has been impressive; the questions we raised on Twitter posts alone reached thousands (see table below), and we received valuable feedback in response to these posts. We are also grateful for the many parents who contacted us through private messaging and emails, providing detailed personal experiences. Our local authority reps have also heard from many parents through their networks across Scotland.

Every family is experiencing lockdown differently, and we do not claim to represent ALL parents, but there are some common concerns and suggestions in the feedback we have received. This is an overview of the feedback received in April and May.

Every comment is valuable but it is difficult to represent hundreds of viewpoints in one overview. If you have contacted us, and your comment is not specifically represented here, please be assured that it has been captured within our more detailed store of parent feedback.

We are continuing to gather feedback on an ongoing basis, so please email your comments to office@npfs.org.uk. We are also planning to launch a survey for parents and carers in June. This will capture the views of parents on the recent announcements to re-open schools on the 11th August and the proposed ‘blended’ approach to school/home learning.

Life in lockdown

Mental health and wellbeing

The main concern voiced by parents has been the impact lockdown and school closures is having on children and young people, and the importance of looking after their mental health and wellbeing.

“Home schooling I’m not afraid of. But him being socially isolated I am.”

“The most important thing you can do I believe is ensure they are safe and secure and look after their mental health at this strange time.”

Challenges for parents and families

Many parents are struggling to help support their children’s learning for a variety of reasons, including:

“…parents working from home do need childcare provision to begin as soon as it’s possible. It’s so intolerable at times – torn between leaving your kids to it to complete work or home schooling or seeing to pre-schoolers when you should be working.”

Cancelled exams

Aside from the emotional impact of cancelled exams, as mentioned previously, parents have concerns over results and whether this will be managed fairly.

“What about schools already doing 2 year courses. There are children in 4th year just now who will sit no exam April 2020 as their school does not present for Nat 5 and instead do 2 year Highers. What is being done to protect them? They sit their exams April 2021!!!!!”

“What about young people at colleges doing HNCs? There has been little talk about these young people, who may also be depending on results for university entrance, and no clear guidance yet about the way forward.”

Education progression

The cancellation of exams was also raised as an issue for progression, alongside the overall impact of the school closures. Parents are worried about the lack of, or reduced, progress in learning compared with being in school.

“It’s going to be tough initially as so much course work [for Higher] is building on Nat 5. Exams force you to try and learn the coursework and without exams its really impacting on the knowledge level. There is going to be a gap in learning.”

“I know a lot of people are choosing to do very little, or nothing at all, and with little or no hand in dates there seems to be no checking up on progress. My concern is that the kids that are working will go back to school already behind with being at home and will then have to wait for lots of people in the class to catch up.”

Support from schools

In the early stages of lockdown, the messages and discussions we had with parents tended to focus on the difficulties facing everyone, including teachers and school staff.

However, there is growing frustration among many parents at the inconsistency across schools and local authorities. Many parents are concerned that their child has had less support than others, and that this has had a damaging impact on their learning. Parents are increasingly telling us that all schools must work to put measures in place to adequately support any future learning at home.

“The school my nephew goes to is miles ahead of our one.”

“I can see what other schools are doing by looking on Facebook. Some of them have even been doing assemblies. Our school has hardly done anything.”

“…bombarding them with assignments and poor guidance and responses [do] not promote leaning. Expecting a 13 year old to manage their own timetable is overwhelming and not appropriate.”

Many schools have struggled to strike the right balance. Some parents have said their school is putting their children under too much pressure to complete too many assignments. Others have said their child has received little, or no, classwork or support, or that the work their child is submitting is not getting marked.

Some of the suggestions put forward by parents include:

 “I know it’s tricky for some kids…but if there were virtual classes or stricter hand in dates were in place then it would be noticeable to school who needed extra help/support/equipment and they would be given this and kids that are just not engaging by choice can be prompted and reminded that it’s not the holidays yet!”

“I think virtual live classes would be the way forward – that way the teacher knows exactly who is not attending and working. Even if it was just the teaching part and they are given a certain amount of time to complete written tasks.”

There have also been parents praising their school, commenting that support has improved over time and/or saying they are satisfied with how well their child is working from home. Some of the methods parents found particularly helpful include:

“My kids are being educated effectively by their current teachers through google classroom and other media and have the same work load they had before lockdown. Their teachers have coped with this very well and were already using the learning platforms. Has it had issues, yes but in the main it has been very effective.”

“The Parent Council of xxxx have been blown away with what our school has created for all our 500+ kids. Continuous daily support via Teams. Mental & emotional welfare no1 priority. Can’t thank them enough!”

“I can see a massive shift in xxxx’s attitude since the school have started them on Higher work. Getting the coursework through weekly on teams is focusing her and there is some motivation there. She has something structured and knows what to aim for. That’s a world away from where we have been.”

When to re-open schools

Although the views of parents differed over if/when schools should re-open, the main reason behind these views was shared: to do what’s best for their child’s health and wellbeing.

We conducted a poll over Twitter on the 15th May asking, if you had the choice, when would you like your child to return to school? We gave the options of before or after the summer holidays. Of the 214 people responding:

In response to this and other posts, we received additional comments and thoughts on this question:

“After summer seems more realistic. Each individual school would need to have time to put a secure plan in place to prove to their students/staff that they will be safe on their return…”

“August is a long way, away. My teen and tween are struggling and we have lots of space/tech and both work part time so goodness knows how hard it must be for those without!”

“Get the children back who are not engaging at home, they should not miss out on their education due to whatever circumstances is stopping them do school work.”

“Normality or nothing at all. It’s not fair to expect kids to not be able to play with their friends after all this time. To make them social distance at break times etc is more abnormal than having them stay at home.” 

“…where either a parent or a child has existing conditions for whom catching covid-19 could be dangerous – need to be allowed to keep their children at home and continue online tuition.” 

“Would like to see a stepped approach starting with the older kids then the younger kids and half days for the p1 & 2 kids to ease them in to a routine.”

“Not before it’s safe; phased / part-time; if part-time regular i.e. set days or times not 1 week at school then 1 week at home”

The ‘new normal’ for schools

Many parents have commented on the measures they would like to see in place for schools re-opening.

Emotional wellbeing

“A softer approach, so much more work done on emotions, teachers playing with the kids then gradually the curriculum being introduced. Children have been through so much”

“My wee boys in primary one, it’s a confusing time for the young kids, I’d like them to have the same teacher again.”

“[An] initial focus on reconnecting and establishing relationships with play based learning for primary school; awareness of trauma effects on learning.” 

Learning support

“At this point you can just about accept the inconsistency because it was not planned for, but when we go back to school there needs to be training for teachers to be digitally literate so there are no inconsistencies or teaching gaps. Worksheets and written work should be kept for the home learning part, so the time spent in school has real interaction with the teacher and the class.”

“If the ‘new normal’ is to be different, please can it be clear and consistent – routine needs to be re-established. And as soon as safe to do so. Educational disruption can have life-long impact. Our kids need to be supported to close the gaps.”

 “A plan for supporting kids back into the curriculum. A lot will have fallen behind their classmates and this could cause real confidence issues.”

 “I also believe that there is so much to be gained from outdoor learning. Would love more time of outdoor learning time incorporated.”

Hygiene & safety

“Will the schools be deep cleaned before any sort of return of staff & pupils? Normal council cleaners have no PPE, nor adequate cleaning products to perform a proper deep clean.”

“Small class sizes – Maximum 10 per room. Good infection control procedures. Test trace isolate. Protect teachers. Increase outdoor learning. Outdoor handwashing facilities.”

Physical distancing

“I have been working in a hub and socially distancing with younger primary/ nursery aged children has been impossible.”

“The most natural thing for children is play so the children must be able to play together make bonds, be creative. They can’t be kept apart. My 7 year old misses her friends desperately.”

“Schools to have capacity to ensure children can be kept safe. Plans to be in place to also minimise emotional impact, for example should younger children especially only be in half days, to prevent break times in which they would be told they can’t play with their friends.”

Travelling to school

“…if we temporarily remove some car parking where appropriate then this will mean parents and pupils can use pavement and road to social distance.”

Transitions

“Current P7 pupils could be first into the high school with primary teachers there to help their transition.”

Additional Support Needs (ASN)

Many parents voiced their concern that any plans to return to school need careful consideration of the impact on children with additional support needs and complex needs. This included:

“…worried about my son who has autism. Transition for p7 to s1 this had such a bad effect on him not being at school in a routine.”

“My child is in the ASN I have huge anxiety as she has no concept of social distancing and needs help with all her personal care.”

“…you would presume there would be some plan on those children with ASN… they are highly vulnerable… Anyone thought about how they will manage a totally different school environment, PPE, sensory issues surrounding noise/masses of folk again etc. Anxiety that will have been through the roof already more staff are going to be needed, mental health support will be required on a large scale…”

“As mum of ASN kiddo, hope this is chance research, learn / build better system 4 all…”

Working parents

 “We want a system that’s safe for teachers and support staff as well as the kids.  Routine and consistency are important. A lot of parents will be working around when the kids are in school and might struggle to chop and change.”

“Probably needs to be part time for social distancing but also needs to be planned around when most people return to work. Can’t have industry reopening with no plan for kids.”

Please note:

This is an overview of some of the comments received from parents in April and May 2020, but is not exhaustive record of the extensive feedback we’ve received. The examples of direct quotes come from social media posts, as they are already in the public domain, and direct messages and emails where parents have given approval for their comments to be used. All other comments made via email remain confidential unless we are advised otherwise.

As other organisations have also captured parent views over this time period, we have provided links to some of these:

https://www.connect.scot/application/files/3515/8894/5748/FINAL_Connect_Parent_Carer_Survey_report_How_are_you_doing_2020_8_May_2020.pdf


https://www.parentingacrossscotland.org/info-for-families/coronavirus/share-your-experience/

 

https://www.parentingacrossscotland.org/info-for-practitioners/policy/lives-in-lockdown-parents-accounts/

 

https://cpag.org.uk/cost-of-the-school-day

 

Twitter posts

Tweet Total Engagements Retweets Impressions*
There are lots of decisions to be made about #schoolsreopening, and it is important that parents have the opportunity to have their views heard. We want to know, if you had the choice, when would you like your child to return to school? 343 38 6,481
What would you want to be put in place – so that you would feel confident sending your child back to school? 516 26 9,569
What would you like to see happen first? 1,171 78 21,973
What would make you feel more comfortable about sending your children back to school? 1,033 68 21,292
What would you like the return to school to look like? 2,251 119 3,649
What are your top priorities to be considered for when children return to school? 1,798 88 33,565
TOTALS 7,112 417 96,529

* Number of times a tweet appears on someone’s twitter timeline or in search results.

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The National Parent Forum of Scotland (NPFS) welcomes the Scottish Government’s strategic framework for reopening Schools and Early Learning and Childcare Settings. We look forward to more detailed information of the measures that will be put in place, so that parents can be confident that their children can return to schools and early learning settings safely.

 

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said in the Scottish Parliament today,

 

“These arrangements will not represent a complete return to normality by August, but we judge them to be the most sensible and safe approach we can plan for at this stage.

 

“To reflect the fact that children will still be doing part of their learning at home we are going to invest a further £30m to provide laptops for disadvantaged children and young people to enable them study online. 

 

“I want to take a moment to say a huge thank you to parents, carers and teachers who are doing so much to ensure children continue to learn during this lockdown period. And I want to send a special message to children and young people themselves…”

 

The framework has been jointly developed with Scottish Government and Local Government, with support from key partners across the education system, including the NPFS.

 

The framework will be used in conjunction with Local Phasing Delivery Plans and further details will be set out within the coming days and weeks. This is to enable as many children and young people as possible to return to education and care settings at the earliest possible date.

 

The date of reopening has been set for 11thAugust across Scotland, although this will be dependent on factors such as scientific and medical advice and the implementation of public health measures. This universal approach will bring benefits to children who have been away from school for a considerable time.

 

Our Chair, Joanna Murphy, said:

 

“As a member of the Education Recovery Group I have tried to represent the parent voice. Many questions still need to be answered but we welcome these initial plans and are pleased that time will be taken to prioritise the safety of our children and school staff.

 

I am confident that schools will make this year’s ‘back to school’ feel as normal as possible for our children but the reality is it will be different, and so we are glad to see that there will be a focus on nurturing mental health and wellbeing in the new term.

 

The new ‘blended’ model of in-school and home learning will ensure that all children and young people will benefit from face to face contact with their teachers and friends in their school setting for part of the time, with continued learning at home support for parents in the remainder.

 

This has been a deeply worrying time for us all in many ways, not least the effect on our children’s education which will not just disappear with this news. But we are well placed in Scotland to embrace this new learning pattern and reflect on all the interesting and innovative home learning that has gone on in recent weeks. Parents have risen to the challenge that Covid19 forced on them. I am sure that this new found empowerment will lead to strengthened engagement with schools and learning for our children which will be beneficial for us all in the future.”

 

There are many helpful resources available for parents and their children. Have a look on our website for useful links: www.parentforumscotland.org.uk.

 

Please send press enquiries to: enquiries@npfs.org.ukor telephone 07590 597805

 

 

 

 

*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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our latest newsletter is out! Take a look for:

And more…

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We’ve launched three new Nutshells for parents and carers: Learning at Home in Lockdown, Online Safety, and Securing your Devices.

These have information, advice and useful links for supporting learning at home and helping to keep ourselves, and our family, safe online.

Our experiences of lockdown differ because of our individual circumstances. Supporting our children’s learning at home can be a struggle for many parents and families, and we do not yet know when, or how, our children will be able to return to school.

The Learning at Home in Lockdown Nutshell gives you some tips for supporting your children’s learning at home and links to information and advice that can help you. As the health and wellbeing of you and your family is what’s most important, there are also links to organisations that offer information, advice and support.

NPFS Chair, Joanna Murphy, said:

“These are challenging times and we have a lot to cope with. We are assured that no one is expecting us to be teachers and to replicate the school environment, but it’s hard day in and day out to keep up the enthusiasm for learning in our kitchens!! It’s important that we don’t put ourselves, or our children, under too much pressure. We need to be kind to ourselves, and remember to look after our own mental health, as well as our family’s wellbeing.

Working in partnership with our schools is key to achieving outcomes that are realistic and appropriate for our family circumstances. Schools will continue to provide resources to support learning, and offer PSE for our young people, but it will not be the same as being in school and we all need to be mindful of this. Remember to contact your school if you feel you need more help or if something doesn’t help you. Teachers are new to this and are finding their way too.

We’ll continue to provide up-to-date information on our website, and we’ve increased the frequency of our newsletters. If you’re not yet on our mailing list, please join up. We are here to support you as much as we can so please keep in touch.” 

Technology is helping us stay connected and entertained. These risks have not changed but the more time we use it, the greater the potential risks. We’ve been working with Education Scotland to create publications that will help you minimise these risks.

You can find information and advice about online behaviour, and helping to keep your child safe on social media and gaming, in our Online Safety Nutshell. Our helpsheet, Securing your devices, has key questions to think about and links to organisations that offer practical, step-by-step, advice.

NPFS Chair, Joanna Murphy, said:

“I am pleased that these nutshells have launched this week. At this particular time pupils are online more and more completing lessons from their school, and this can be a worry to parents who may often not be as confident online as their children. These guides provide digital safety tips plus helpful ways to talk to your child about what they do online.

As a parent, I am mocked by my children about my poor digital skills! so it’s helpful to have clear information in parent friendly language…and to realise that I’m not alone. Just now many young people will be doing classes online, keeping in touch with their teachers and friends on lots of different platforms as well as playing games, watching you tube, following their social media feeds and much, much more. It is reassuring to be able to keep track of the online presence of our children and these nutshells give practical advice on how to do this.” 

 

You can find these latest nutshells, and all of our publications, here.

Our latest newsletter is out! Take a look for:

And more…

You can find the newsletter online here, and to get it straight to your inbox, subscribe here.

Our latest newsletter is out! Featuring…

Read the latest newsletter online here. To get our updates straight to your inbox, subscribe here.

Our latest newsletter is out! Featuring…

Read the latest newsletter online here. To get our updates straight to your inbox, subscribe here.

The new term has begun, however in these unprecedented circumstances our children aren’t returning to school. The uncertainty of the coronavirus outbreak brings many challenges for all of us, and the National Parent Forum of Scotland (NPFS) know that parents across Scotland are working hard to balance these challenges whilst our children and young people are at home. We have worked with the Scottish Government to bring you information and support during the school closures.

Joanna Murphy, Chair of the NPFS, said “At a time where everything is far from normal, the start of the summer term will provoke different tensions and emotions for each family in Scotland. NPFS is working closely with the Scottish Government to provide clear, relevant information for parents and carers, and also as a link to continue to get answers to questions that parents may have moving forward.

“Parents are key to their children’s wellbeing and learning and we are aware there is no ‘one size fits all’ solution. Families should continue to prioritise the individual needs of their children by utilising the support offered from their schools, Local Authorities and the Scottish Government. No one is expecting parents to reproduce a school in their homes, but instead support their children’s learning in partnership with their schools.

“Finally, we encourage you to stay positive, stay hopeful, stay compassionate, and stay kind in the days and week ahead. We will get through this by looking after each other.”

The guidance details the Scottish Government’s expectations for what learning at home will look like during term 4.

The Deputy First Minister said “Given the unprecedented circumstances, we cannot predict when schools in Scotland will reopen and we are grateful to parents and carers across the country for dealing with the disruption so well.

“While we do not expect teachers, parents and families to replicate schools or classrooms, we are committed to working with all partners in Scotland’s education system to protect pupils’ wellbeing, and ensure learning can continue in an appropriate way, wherever possible.

“This helpful guide from the National Parent Forum of Scotland sets out the support available to support both the wellbeing and learning of children and young people in these challenging times.”

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The current healthcare situation has created a lot of uncertainty, and for young people completing SQA qualifications in school, college or with a training provider or employer, the cancellation of the 2020 exams and coursework assessments has amplified this for them and their parents or carers.

The NPFS understands that you may have lots of questions and will want reassurance that your child will receive results that accurately and fairly demonstrate their skills, achievements and abilities.

SQA is adapting to this unprecedented situation and continues to issue information and guidance to schools and colleges. They are also working with us to get relevant information directly to you.

The FAQs below cover the most recent updates about your child’s SQA Qualifications, and we hope that these provide you with the information you need for some understanding and reassurance of the changes being made due to the coronavirus outbreak.

 

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Update 21st April 2020

The SQA have released further information for parents about Estimates, Results, and Appeals. You can view the document below:

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During the coronavirus outbreak we know that information and resources for parents are important to keep everyone informed.

We’ll be publishing weekly newsletters signposting information about education, wellbeing, and public health.

This week’s updates include:

You can read the newsletter in full here. You can also subscribe to our mailing list here for newsletters to arrive straight to your inbox!

We have launched our latest newsletter, with information and resources around coronavirus and the school closures, as well as news from the NPFS over the past few months. You can read it here.

These are challenging times for us all, and we know that there is a lot of pressure on parents. We will continue to represent parents, sharing information and ideas from the Scottish Government and other organisations in a parent friendly way.

We’ll be sending out weekly newsletter during the outbreak as a place for parents to access information on education, health, and well-being to support yourselves and your families during these uncertain times.

Subscribe to our mailing list to receive the newsletter straight to your inbox.

COVID-19 is an uncertain and worrying time for all of us, and children and young people will also be feeling this, especially with the recent announcement that schools will be closing from Friday.

There are lots of resources available to support families in having conversations around COVID-19 to help manage worries and anxieties, well-being activities for children, parents, and families, as well as fun and interactive activities to take part in from home!

Below is a list of resources which we will continue to add to. Please do get in touch to provide us with your feedback, ideas, and recommendations. You can find us on Facebook and Twitter.

Support for Parents

Parentline

Parentline Scotland is open 7 days a week to offer free advice and support to parents in Scotland. You can call 08000 28 22 33 Monday to Friday 9am-9pm, and Saturday-Sunday 9am -12 Noon.  They also have a range of resources on their website including mental health and well-being resources for children and young people.

Parent Club

The Scottish Government’s Parent Club have lots of information on Coronavirus, as well as activities to do with young children. You can find all of the resources on their website.

Advice for supporting Learning at Home

Dr. Janet Goodall, professor in education and parent’s engagement with children’s learning, has produced a list of her tips for supporting learning at home.

Parenting Across Scotland (PAS)

PAS have put together a range of webpages to support families during Coronavirus. Their website has a range of pages providing information about official health advice, work and benefits, staying at home, your local area, and looking after yourself and your family.

Safer Internet Centre 

The UK Safer Internet Centre has lots of tips and advice for parents to ensure that children are safe online.

The Spark – How to talk about Coronavirus

The Spark Blog have put together advice on how to talk to children about coronavirus and to reassure and validate their feelings during these challenging times.

World Health Organisation – Helping children cope with COVID-19

The World Health Organisation have a factsheet of advice for parent to support children during COVID -19.

British Psychological Society – Talking to children about Coronavirus

This information sheet provides information, tips, and ideas about how to talk to children about COVID-19.

Well-Being and Mental Health Support for Children and Young People

YoungScot Information for Young People

YoungScot have created a range of resources for young people to provide information on COVID-19 and advice for maintaining well-being.

They also have a range of resources for young people for staying safe online on their ‘DigiAye’ page.

Stem4

Stem4, a charity supporting young people’s mental health, have produced a factsheet to support teenagers to manage anxiety over the coronavirus outbreak.

#COVIBOOK for Children

This resource put together by Mind Heart provides a child friendly way to discuss the virus with children to support and reassure them, and is available in a range of languages!

Place2Be

Place2Be, a charity aiming to improve children’s mental health, have put together information about how to speak to children about COVID-19 and resources to support parents to maintain their own well-being. The webpage provides a range of advice and useful links.

They also have a webpage with a range of links to support children who may be especially vulnerable during the current uncertainty, such as children with Additional Support Needs, Looked After, or deemed as a Child in Need.

Advice for helping children, young people, and their families manage anxiety about COVID -19

The NHS, COSLA, Royal College of Psychiatrists, Youth Link, and Young Scot have co-produced guidance on how to support children and young people with managing anxiety. The document includes advice directly for children and young people, advice to those supporting children and young people, advice to families who may also be experiencing other anxieties, as well as advice to support adults in caring roles. You can find the resource online here. The resource also links to a wide range of other helpful websites!

Healthier Minds

The website resource from East Renfrewshire Council has a range of information for parents, carers, children, and young people around managing well-being and mental health during the coronavirus outbreak, as well as resources and support for children and young people with Additional Support Needs.

NHS Lanarkshire Catalogue of Resources 

This catalogue of resources compiled by NHS Lanarkshire has a wide range of links to support children and young people during the coronavirus outbreak. You can find it here.

Teen Mental Health – Parents Guide 

Blog post by MyTutor about teen mental health, with useful tips and advice for parents to help their teens overcome body image issues, academic anxiety, peer pressure, and cyberbullying, and links to other important mental health resources.  You can find it here.

Mindfulness and Well-Being Activities 

Centre of Excellence Mindfulness Course

The Centre of Excellence are offering their Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) Audio Course online for free with the code FREEYOURMIND.

Headspace – Meditation for Kids 

Headspace have a range of meditation activities for children on their website which can be tried for free as part of a trial.

Calm – Free Meditation Resources 

Calm have made some of their meditation resources available for free online during the Coronavirus outbreak, including a Calm Kids section.

Action for Happiness Coping Calendar

Action for Happiness have put together a calendar of 30 actions to help us keep calm and look after ourselves and each other.

Physical Activities 

imoves

The imoves website offers a variety of activities to boost children and young people’s mental and physical well-being during home learning. Videos include pilates, meditation, and fit challenges.

Joe Wicks ‘The Body Coach’ Virtual P.E 

Joe Wicks ‘The Body Coach’ has a playlist on youtube with a range of workouts for kids to do at home. Starting on Monday 23rd March, The Body Coach will be doing live P.E sessions at 9am on his Youtube channel.

Disney Dance Routines

‘This Girl Can’ – a website dedicated to encourage women and girls to be active – have produced a range of free ‘Disney Dance-Along’ videos which can be done at home to help keep kids active.

Action for Health Kids 

The Action for Healthy Kids website provides a range of free online resources for physical activity and games whilst at home.

Daily Mile

The Daily Mile are setting weekly challenges to encourage children to stay active and still take part in the Daily Mile from home when possible. For more information and updates on their weekly challenges visit their website.

Reading and Audiobook Activities 

Rebel Girls 

Rebel Girls has a range of free resources and podcasts on their website, and have also introduced a 40% discount on their physical books with the code REBELGIRLSATHOME

BookBug App

The free BookBug App has a range of songs and rhymes for children in the early years. Information on the app and links to download are available here.

World Book Day Website

World Book Day may have passed, but their website still has a variety of free book themed resources including crafts, cooking, and colouring.

Parent Network Scotland Book Bug Reading Session 

Parent Network Scotland are posting videos on their Facebook page for interactive reading and rhymes.

Free Audio Stories – David Walliams

David Walliams is releasing free audio stories for children on ‘The World of David Walliams’ website.

Audible 

Audible are offering free audiobooks for kids whilst the schools are closed. Follow this link to start listening.

Scottish Book Trust

The Scottish Book Trust have released a page of Home Activities, for children of all ages up to 18.

Harry Potter at Home

J.K Rowling has launched ‘Harry Potter at Home’, an online hub of Harry Potter resources and information for children and young people.

Tin Circus Electronic Book

‘Tin Circus’ an interactive children’s book, is available for free to download to an iPad or iPhone.

Coronavirus Book or Children – Illustrated by Axel Sheffler

A free information book available online to explain the coronavirus to children, illustrated by the Gruffalo illustrator Axel Scheffler.

Other Activity Ideas

eScottish Cup

The SFA and ChildrenFirst have announced an eScottish Cup for over 16s with access to Football Manager Touch 2020. You can sign up here.

Activity Village Resources

Activity Village have compiled a variety of free activity packs for a range of ages due to the school closures. You can find all of the free activity packs on their website.

Scouts – The Great Indoors

The Scouts have put together a range of indoor activities for children and young people. You can find the full list here.

Edinburgh Zoo Webcams 

Edinburgh Zoo has live webcams of their Pandas, Penguins, Tigers, and Koalas that can be watched online. Great for any animal lovers!

Big Life Journal 

The Big Life journal website has free resources on they website to help children develop a growth mindset. They are also offering 50% off of their resources with the code STUCKHOME.

The Kids Should See This

The website has a range of free videos for children including science, activities, and information about the coronavirus.

Cbeebies Radio

The CBeebies website has a range of activities and games, as well as listening activities for children such as poems for a morning routine.

Scotrail 

Lots of us are missing being able to travel, and if you know a child or young person or likes trains, the Scotrail website has lots of activities to keep them busy.

All Kids Network

The All Kids website has a range of activities, worksheets, and colouring for children.

Blair Drummond Safari Park Livestream

Blair Drummond Safari Park’s Facebook page will be live streaming daily updates about the animals and how the team look after them. A great resource for animal lovers or a break from school work.

Wash Your Lyrics

The website generates a hand washing poster with lyrics from your chosen song.

Choonbaboon

Choonbaboon’s website has a range of song lyrics for kids as a fun activity at home. All of the backing tracks are also available for free on youtube and Spotify.

Technology Free Games 

‘It is on’ have compiled a list of games you can play at home, no technology required!

Mary’s Meals

Mary’s Meals is a global movement of people from all walks of life, united by their belief that no child in this world of plenty should endure a day without a meal. They’re delighted to share an activity pack for children based on excerpts from the founder, Magnus MacFarlane- Barrow’s best-selling book ‘The Shed That Fed A Million Children’. Through these stories, children can travel from the Highlands of Scotland to the heart of Africa, where they will meet some of the people who inspired their work to feed hungry children in schools.For younger children they have another activity pack, which turns household mugs into Mary’s Meals mugs!

Additional Support Needs

Salvesen Mindroom Transitions Advice

The Salvesen Mindroom have created a resource to help explain to children about transitions and why schools are closing. They have also created a template that can be edited by parents to best suit the needs of their child. You can find the resources here.

Talking Mats

Talking Mats have produced resources to support children with additional support needs during the coronavirus outbreak with visuals to explain the guidance issued by the World Health organisation.

Autism School Closure Kit 

The Illinois Autism Partnership’s School Closure Kits is available online, providing schedules and resources.

Visual Resources for children with Additional Support Needs

This free collection of visual resources offers lots of information for children with additional support needs around the coronavirus outbreak.

CALL Scotland Symbol Resources

CALL Scotland have collated a range of symbol resources about the coronavirus for children with Additional Support Needs.

They also have useful ‘Wheels of Apps’ on their website for a range of needs. You can find their latest App for Learners with Complex Needs here.

Asthma UK Advice for Coronavirus

Asthma UK’s website has a dedicated page that is regularly updated for information for those with Asthma during the coronavirus outbreak.

Scottish Autism Support for Parents and Carers during COVID-19

Scottish Autism have collated a resource with a range of information an idea for parents and carers of children with autism during the COVID-19 outbreak, including ideas to support children and young people to understand hand washing and school closures.

Hand Washing tips for People with Sensory Difficulties 

Sensory Integration have put together a fact sheet to support those with sensory difficulties with hand washing.

Mencap Social Story

Mencap’s Social Story about Coronavirus can support children with Additional Support Needs to understand the virus and NHS Guidance.

The Autism Educator Social Story

The Autism Educator website has a Social Story to support children with Additional Support Needs understand Coronavirus and the changes to daily life.

Reach 

Reach have a dedicated section of their website for supporting young people with additional support for learning during coronavirus, including information about managing anxieties, learning from home, and their rights.

Pupil Inclusion Scotland (PIN)

Their website has lots of information for support with health and well-being and resources for inclusion.

 

 

 

 

 

With the news that schools will be closing from Friday, we know this will pose a challenge for parents and families.

During this challenging and uncertain time the NPFS aims to continue to support and represent parents and families to the best of our ability.

We have put together a list of education resources from a variety of organisations that may be of help to families at home. We will continue to update the list, and welcome any suggestions from you of resources you recommend or would like to see!

Resources

ADHD Foundation

The ADHD Foundation has produced an example of a daily schedule to help keep a routine when children are at home. This resource can be useful to all children, not just those with Additional Support Needs! The resource also includes images to create a visual schedule for children.

BBC

The BBC released a statement on 18th March 2020 detailing their plans to provide education resources during the school closures. You can find the statement in full here.

The BBC will continue to produce educational resources, however they already have a number of existing educational resources available for all ages on their BBC Scotland Learning site. You can find these here. 

BBC Learning Scotland Learning have created a Facebook Page for parents and carers to access learning content online. Follow the link above to join the group.

National Museums Scotland 

The National Museum of Scotland has a variety of innovative online resources which could be used as a creative way to learn at home.

For younger children, the museum has online learning games, videos, and resources that can be found here.

Much of the museum is also available to explore online. The museum have a youtube channel discussing information about their collections, a sketchfab site where some of their collections can be viewed online up-close in 3D, as well as a Google Maps Streetview setting where you can virtually visit the whole museum!

Tutorials for accessing GLOW

Some schools will likely be advising the children use GLOW for home learning during the school closures. If you do not have a computer at home, GLOW can also be accessed on an Xbox or Playstation. This youtube channel has useful tutorials on how to set up GLOW on an Xbox and Playstation.

My SQA Online

For young people, MySQA is an online portal for accessing information about their qualifications. Any pupil can register with their Scottish Candidate number (SCN) and an email address.

Twinkl

Twinkl offer a range of online learning resources for children of all ages, including resources which cover Scotland’s Curriculum for Excellence. Twinkl are offering a free month of their ultimate subscription due to the school closures. You can sign up here and use the offer code UKTWINKLHELPS to access your free month subscription.

First News Free Resources

First News offers non-fiction educational resources based on the news. The website has free tasters of their newspaper activity sheets, and due to school closures are offering a free 6 weeks of their iHub Portal due to the school closures.

Pinterest

Dr. Janet Goodall, a professor in education with a focus on parent’s engagement with children’s learning, has put together a Pinterest page with ideas of activities to support learning at home. The page features lots of creative ideas of ways for children to learn.

RBS Money Sense Financial Education Programme

Royal Bank of Scotland have a range of resources online for teaching children aged 5-18 about money, finance, and budgeting. These are free and available online here.

British Sign Language

British Sign Language (BSL)  are offering their 20 hour BSL course and CPD certification for free to under 18s by providing proof of age at the checkout. Children and young people can sign up to the course here.

World Book Reader

World Book Online have just made their collection of over 3000 ebooks and audio books available online free for children to access at home. Their website has books suitable for all ages!

National Geographic Kids

The website has a variety of resources and activities about nature. They also have a section that explains the science of coronavirus in a child-friendly way, as well as some reassurance for children and young people.

DK Find Out

The website has information, videos, and quizzes for children to find out about a variety of topics. Their website also has a parent tab with information about how to use the site and resources.

The Maths Factor

The Maths Factor, created by Carol Vorderman formerly of Countdown, is offering free online maths classes to children aged 4-12 years old. Find out more on their website.

The University of Edinburgh – Online Centre for Research Collections

For older children, Edinburgh University have resources from their Centre for Research Collections available to look through on their Flickr. The website features a range of historical images and texts, including maps, Shakespeare, and images from their collection on the history of medicine.

The Little Art School

The Little Art School are hosting free online art tutorials every day at 11am, starting on Thursday 26th March. The Daily Draw will provide art tuition to children aged 5-18 on their youtube channel.

Oxford Owl

The Oxford Owl has a range of free e-books and learning activities for ages 3-11. You can find the resources on their website.

iDEA

iDEA is a website with opportunities to develop digital, enterprise, and employability skills for free. The website has a range of online modules for children to complete.

Crash Course Science

Crash Course Science has a kids area of their youtube channel, with videos covering a range of topics including Life Science, Physical Science, and Engineering.

OpenLearn 

The Open University has a range of free learning courses and resources on their website. These resources are aimed at young people and adults.

Museums

As well as the National Museum of Scotland (mentioned earlier), there are a range of museums from across the globe with online access to some of their exhibits. You can find a list of where to access them here.

Glasgow Science Centre 

The Glasgow Science Centre are doing live videos every day at 10am. Find out more on their website.

PhonicsPlay

The website have a variety of phonics resources for a range of ages, and have made them free to use during the school closures. Simply login to their website with the Username: march20 Password: home

BrainPOP

Families can request a free account with BrainPOP. The website has educational resources and activities relating to coronavirus and a range of other topics.

Call Scotland – Free Software for Use at Home

Call Scotland have put together a list of free software that can be used at home to support children with Additional Support Needs.

#DynamicEarthOnline

Dynamic Earth will be sharing content ranging from hands-on experiments that you can do at home, through to fascinating insights about the history of our planet and the science behind climate change.

Maths Chase

The Maths Chase website is a free home online learning tool where children can play times tables games, along with many other mathematics skill-based games!  The site features simple learning games which children can play at home.

Time for Inclusive Education 

The TIE Campaign have learning resources on their website, including an e-learning activity ‘What is Discrimination’. The e-learning module and other resources including information on LGBT history can be found on their website.

Scotland’s Enterprising Schools

Scotland’s Enterprising schools have daily online learning activities starting Monday 6th April. You can download the daily learning challenge workbook online.

The Red Cross 

The British Red Cross have free online learning resources to teach children and young people about how we can work together to help people in global crises such as the coronavirus outbreak. Their ‘Newsthink’ activity for children aged 11-18 looks at building resilience in crises as well as the role of kindness and emotional support. For children aged 7-18 they also have the ‘Kindness Calendar‘ activity to explore how we can practice kindness during the COVID-19 outbreak.

Scotland’s National Centre for Languages (SCILT)

SCILT have dedicated free resources to support parents and children with learning at home. They have free language resources for children in both primary and secondary school, covering a range of languages including Arabic, Gaelic, and Mandarin to name a few!

SCILT are also offering free real-time language courses for both primary and high school students. You can see the full programme of sessions and register here

Scottish Book Trust

The Scottish Book Trust’s Home Learning Hub has a range of reading resources for children of all ages including their Book Bug sessions for early years, creative writing, and learning activities based on popular children’s books.

Q-Files

Q-files is an educational resource, sometimes described as ‘Wikipedia for kids’. The site is ad-free and designed specifically for children; it’s colourful, easy to navigate and bursting with facts and images. The website also has a read-aloud function on every page. Due to the coronavirus outbreak and school closures, Q-Files are offering a free trial of their website up until the Summer holidays, you can sign up here for their free trial.

Children’s University Scotland 

Children’s University Scotland are posting a daily #ChallengeoftheDay, and their website also has a range of free activity sheets on their website.

Historic Environment Scotland

Historic Environment Scotland have free learning resources and activities on their website, including Gaelic activities, videos to explore historic landmarks, and creative activities.

CountOnUS

CountOnUS have live tutorials on their Facebook page for both parents and children to support with learning maths at home. They also teaching activities for parents on their website. Daily maths challenges at various levels are also shared on their social media pages – and CountOnUs are happy to be contacted by parents who may be struggling with any maths concepts they are supporting their child with. You can find them on Facebook and Twitter, on on their website here.

Go Safe With Ziggy – Road Safety Scotland

Road Safety Scotland have lots of learning resources for the early years with their Go Safe With Ziggy Campaign. All of the resources are available free on their website.

Palace of Holyrood House

This summer, the palace of Holyrood House has launched a  Junior Warden Challenge. Each week children will travel through history with the help of their Palace of Holyroodhouse wardens, Holly and Rudy.

Discover a new story and complete challenges connected to famous royal residents linked to the Palace and Scotland’s past.

You can join in at any time over the summer. A new challenge will be added to this page every Tuesday until the end of July. Visit their website for more information.

 

Coronavirus COVID – 19

Update 18/03/2020

The National Parent Forum of Scotland (NPFS) are following updated advice from NHS Inform and the Scottish Government about COVID-19 and the spread of the virus and have made changes to our activities and planning accordingly.

 

As of Tuesday 17thMarch the Office will be closed, and staff will be working from home. The office staff will be working as normal and can be contacted by email on office@npfs.org.uk.

 

You can also follow us on Twitter and Facebook for updates and to keep in touch.

 

The NPFS is an organisation made up primarily of parent representatives, all of whom are volunteers. Representatives work remotely and will continue to do the work that they can where possible and appropriate to do so.

 

We understand that these are uncertain and challenging times for everyone, and the NPFS aim to continue to represent and support parents and families to the best of our ability.

 

 

We recently responded to the Scottish Government’s consultation on the Early Learning and Childcare Statutory Guidance ahead of the expansion to 1140 Hours in August 2020. Follow the download link below to read the response in full.

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Today we are launching our new Learner Journey Nutshell!

When it comes to thinking about options, parents have a big influence on what our children choose to do. It’s important to help our young people take the long view when it comes to making decisions. It’s not just about now; it’s also about what’s up ahead and makes most sense based on the future job market.

This Nutshell explains how you can support your child in their learning journey, through the senior phase and onto college, apprenticeships, university or the world of work.

You can download the Nutshell on our website https://www.npfs.org.uk/downloads/learner-journey/ or email office@npfs.org.uk to request physical copies

On Wednesday 26thFebruary, a members’ debate took place at the Scottish Parliament as part of our 10thAnniversary celebrations.

 

The debate celebrated our work over the past 10 years, including the Learning Together Action Plan and our ‘In a nutshell series’ for parents. It was a great opportunity to reflect on the development of parental engagement in education over the past decade, as well as chance to look forward to what the next 10 years will bring. The empowered system, where parents are included as equal partners in education alongside teachers and other stakeholders, was a key theme in the debate when discussing the future of parental engagement.

 

During the debate we heard from a variety of MSPs who have supported the NPFS over the years, and we would like to thank Gail Ross for stepping in and making sure the debate happened. We would also like to thank Jenny Gilruth for her ongoing support of parental engagement and the debate prior to her appointment as Minister for Europe and International Development.

 

The debate saw Jamie Greene make his first speech in the Scottish Parliament since being appointed the new Shadow Education Secretary, where he expressed how he is looking forwards to work collaboratively to ensure that parents play a key role in education. Clare Adamson and Iain Gray shared kind words about the work of the NPFS, both of whom are on the Education and Skills Committee.

 

The parliamentary session concluded with a speech from the Deputy First Minister and Cabinet Secretary for Education and Skills John Swinney, who highlighted the importance of the forum in representing parents and shaping policy:

 

“The forum’s involvement is used to shape policy, but it also reinforces a fundamental issue that I signal tonight, which is the warm welcome that our education system expresses for the involvement of parents in their children’s learning. It is a fundamental requirement of the education of children and young people that their parents are fully and actively engaged in their learning.”

 

John Swinney thanked our Chair Joanna Murphy, and former Chair Iain Ellis, for all of their contributions to education policy and parental involvement over the years, as well as extending thanks to forum members and all of those they represent.

 

If you missed the debate, it is available to watch on Scottish Parliament TV https://www.scottishparliament.tv/meeting/members-business-national-parent-forum-of-scotlands-10th-anniversary-february-26-2020, and a transcript of the debate is available here: http://www.parliament.scot/parliamentarybusiness/report.aspx?r=12540&i=113334&c=2243657

 

 

The National Parent Forum of Scotland (NPFS) is pleased to announce that at 5pm on Wednesday 26th February the Scottish Parliament will be debating Parental Engagement as part of the NPFS’s 10th Anniversary Celebrations.

 

The debate will be an opportunity to celebrate the progress made in Parental Involvement and Engagement since the 2006 Act and the establishment of the NPFS in 2009, as well as looking forwards to the future of Parental Engagement in Education.

 

Please show us your support for the debate, through social media, by watching online (https://www.scottishparliament.tv), or by coming along to watch the debate with us!

 

Keep an eye out on our twitter @parentforumscot for updates on the debate and join in by using the hashtag #NPFSatParliament to spread the word about the debate.

The NPFS know that children and young people’s mental health and well-being is so important, and we are proud to have been actively involved alongside a range of organisations in the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS): National service specification.

In order for children and young people to succeed in their education, and thrive in adulthood, it is important that they have the correct support in place to meet their needs. Emotional well-being and mental health are no exception to this.

The national service specification details the importance of support being easily and quickly accessible, and that support should also be available at a universal level, delivered in schools and communities.

The involvement of children, parents, and families in the processes and decision making is also key, and the specification highlights this.

You can read the document in full here: https://www.gov.scot/…/child-adolescent-mental-hea…/pages/7/

Parents know their children best and children do better when parents are involved and engaged with their learning.

In 2006 the Scottish Parliament passed the Scottish Schools (Parental Involvement) Act. This important law sets out how schools and councils must work to support parents to be involved in their children’s schools and education.

Over the past year, the Scottish Government have been working with a number of people, including the NPFS, to update, strengthen and make the guidance clearer.

The Scottish Government are now asking for your views and feedback directly on a fresh guidance document.

The Scottish Government is running a full public consultation on the guidance between 24 January 2020 and 30 April 2020. They want to hear from anyone who has an interest in engaging and involving parents in schools and their children’s learning – and that includes parents themselves!

You can find the draft guidance and an online questionnaire to gather your views on the guidance at: https://consult.gov.scot/learning…/parental-involvement-act/

For more information on the public consultation and how you can be involved in this please contact: parental.involvment@gov.scot

The NPFS recently submitted feedback to the Education and Skills Committee regarding School Counselling. You can read the response in full by following the download link below.

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The UWS-Oxfam Partnership would like to invite you to their latest Policy Forum

Making Policy Care: Exploring the relationship between care work and poverty

When? 21st January 2020
Where? The University of the West of Scotland campus in Paisley.

From those working in the paid childcare and health and social care sectors, to parents and unpaid carers of people with additional needs – everyone has a different experience of how vital paid and unpaid care work is to our households and communities. But care work can be undervalued by society and at times trap people in poverty.

This event seeks to explore the ‘value of care’ with the hope that we can come up with ideas for collaborative research projects that will produce the kinds of evidence that drives real change.

For more information and to register, please click here to view the Eventbrite page.

New Free E-Learning Resource for Parents of Preterm Children.

 

Two to three children in an average sized class are likely to have been born preterm. Compared with children born after a full term pregnancy, children born preterm are at increased risk for cognitive, motor, attention, social-emotional problems and additional support needs, and for poor performance at school. Research has also shown that teachers and other education professionals currently receive little training about preterm birth and its effects on children’s learning and development. This new interactive e-learning resource helps support preterm born children in school.

 

Although the resource was designed primarily for education professionals, of the people that have used it so far, approximately 1/3 are parents. Parents often report that they can find it challenging to get the school to recognise that preterm birth may have impacted on their child’s development and learning, and in securing additional support in school. Using the resource and bringing it to the attention of teachers may help empower parents in this and help them seek support for their child.

 

The resource is completely free to use thanks to funding from children’s charity Action Medical Research and can be accessed by clicking here.

 

The resource was co-designed with parents of children born preterm and young adults themselves who were born preterm, along with a range of education professionals, to ensure it meets their needs. Evaluation of the resource shows that it has significantly improved teachers’ knowledge of the kinds of difficulties preterm born children may have at school and their confidence in how to support these children in the classroom.

 

Examples of Press Mentions:

The Times Educational Supplement (TES) published a dedicated article and podcast about the resource and about the educational needs of preterm born children more broadly.

The resource was also referred to in another more recent article in TES Scotland:

 

Examples of Feedback from Parents:

“I have just worked through the e-learning resource for educational professionals, and I finally feel as though someone “gets” my daughter. For 10 years, I’ve been made to feel by friends, teachers, fellow parents that I’m making a big fuss over nothing and worrying about issues that really aren’t that big a deal. I just wanted to say a massive thanks for creating this resource. It really is terrific.”

“This is an amazing resource for parents and teachers. As preterm mums we get so used to the usual advice and guidance not applying to our children… it feels nice to have something that hits the right spot.”

“Wow I’ve just had a chance to sit and look at your link properly – its like you are talking about my son, I’ve passed it on to some of the professionals involved with him, fantastic work thank you so much for sharing.”

Are you a parent of a young person with asthma? Are they aged between 8-16? Do you live in Edinburgh or Stirling or surrounding areas?

Bring them along to two group sessions and help improve a program to improve asthma inhaler use.

You will receive a £15 gift voucher for your participation. Your travel expenses will be covered. Refreshments are provided!

For further details, contact Dr Pamela Rackow by email at PYTA@stir.ac.uk.

Additional Support for Learning Review and January Focus Groups

 20th December 2019

 

Dear All,

 

We have received a lot of feedback regarding Angela Morgan’s Additional Support for Learning (ASL) Review, and the ASL Focus Groups we at NPFS are hosting in January. We recognise from your feedback that ASL is an understandably sensitive issue for parents, with many feeling frustrated, angry, and disappointed that their children’s educational needs have not been met.

 

We at NPFS agree that ASL is an extremely important area of Scottish Education and are pleased that Angela Morgan is conducting a necessary review. Following ongoing feedback from parents, and notably identifying at a Q&A Event we hosted with Deputy First Minister John Swinney just how many parents feel let down by a lack of ASL for their children, we approached Angela Morgan to organise Focus Groups with parents for the review.

 

As many of you are aware, we have organised four focus groups due to take place in January. We had initially organised two focus groups, one in Edinburgh and one in Glasgow, before being approached by Aberdeenshire to host two more. We want to give parents the best opportunity to provide feedback to the review, however we are a small organisation, and it is unfortunately not possible for us to host these focus groups across the whole of Scotland. The ASL Review is being conducted by the Scottish Government and is not being carried out by NPFS directly, and therefore the Focus Groups have also been subject to Angela Morgan’s availability. Nonetheless, we want to give you as parents the best opportunity we can to contribute to the review, to make sure your voices are heard, and to make sure that the Scottish Government recognises that so many children with Additional Support Needs in Scotland are not currently receiving the education and support they require and deserve.

 

It is with regret that we are not able to come and see you all directly to listen to your stories and get your feedback for the review. We realise how for many this will feel like another example of your voices not being heard. However, we do want to empower you as parents and support you in sharing your stories, experiences, and views with the Scottish Government, and we continue to endeavour to do as much as we can as an organisation to achieve this.

 

We invite you to please contact us with any experiences, opinions, and ideas you would like to share with the review. We also encourage you to have conversations with us, and we are eager to hear your personal stories so that as an organisation we can continue to represent parents to the best of our ability. Ultimately, we want to work together with you in order to continue to improve educational opportunities and outcomes for all children and young people.

 

You can contact us to share your personal stories and experiences by emailing enquiries@npfs.org.uk. If preferred, these stories can be shared with us anonymously. We are also very happy to discuss the review and gather your views and experiences by phone, and you can call our Office in January on 01313138842 to have these conversations.

 

Finally, we would also like to remind you that parents are also invited by the Scottish Government to respond directly to the review by emailing: ChairASLindependentreview@outlook.com

 

The office is closing today and will be back after the festive break. Although the office will be closed, please do not hesitate to email us over the break, as we will have the opportunity to look through your emails in January. If you would like to call and speak to us, we will be back in the office on the 6th January 2020. We look forward to hearing from you.

 

Kind Regards,

Joanna Murphy, Chair, National Parent Forum of Scotland

 

The NPFS provided a response to the General Teaching Council Scotland’s consultation on the updated Professional Standards and Professional Code. You can read out response in full by following the download link below.

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* Register for our upcoming ASL Focus Groups in January 2020 *

During our Q&A event, we mentioned that we would be collating parents’ views for the Scottish Govt’s Review of the Implementation of Additional Support for Learning in schools.

We are planning two evening focus groups for Parents and Carers.

Glasgow – Monday 13th January, 7pm – 9pm
Edinburgh – Thursday 16th Jan, 7pm – 9pm
Aberdeenshire – Wednesday 22nd Jan, tbc

If you would like to take part, please email us at office@npfs.org.uk stating your preference for Glasgow or Edinburgh by the 16th December.

Please note that we will try to have as many attending as possible, but will select at random if we are over-subscribed.

Have you tried the DFM’s Christmas Maths Challenge? 🎅 A great opportunity for Family Learning!
 
Look out for it in your P4’s schoolbag or click here to have a go.
 
Good Luck! 🍀 #christmasmaths
This year, the Christmas Holiday Challenge is aimed at primary 4 pupils (previously primary 6 pupils). All Primary Schools should have received their copies, so look out for your child’s in their schoolbag!
 
Answers and working will be on the Making Maths Count blog from 6 January 2020.

MCR Pathways are looking for volunteers!

MCR Pathways train and match volunteer mentors with a young person to meet for just one hour a week and provide an encouraging, listening ear. Mentors support their young person to focus in school and build their confidence and aspirations.

Parents/Carers, please join mentoring charity MCR Pathways and find out how you can make a life-changing difference.

There is amazing potential and talent in our young people, regardless of their home life and circumstances, but for many, that potential has yet to be discovered. Scottish charity MCR Pathways matches young people with a mentor who helps them to uncover, nurture, and develop their skills and confidence. They are looking for our help to find more volunteers for young people who need it most.

Can you help?
The only requirement to become a mentor is simply a desire to help a young person and put them first. Mentoring sessions take place in school for one hour a week and are based on non-judgemental listening and encouragement. Mentors help young people realise their full potential and empower them with the confidence and belief to make it happen.

Visit mcrpathways.org to find out more and begin your mentoring journey or call us on 0141 221 0200.

MCR Pathways is a Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation (SCIO) Registered No SCO45816

The Scottish Learning Disability Awards 2020 are open for nominations!

Why not recognise a person or group of people with a learning disability, and celebrate their talents and achievements by nominating them for a Scottish Learning Disability Award?

This year there are 8 categories, spanning everything from the creative pursuits to sporting achievement and work and learning. So you won’t be stuck for choice!

There are also two categories where you can nominate people who support a person with a learning disability, as well as the person with a learning disability themselves. The ‘Living your Best Life’ category celebrates the importance of having innovative, person-centred support which empowers a person to live life to the fullest. ‘Family Carer and their Relative’ recognises the transformative and empowering relationship between the family carer(s) and the person being cared for.

To find out more about the award categories and to nominate a person or group for an award, please click here.

Nominations close on Monday 3rd February 2020 at 5pm.

So now is the time to get writing and send your nominations in!

If you have any questions about the nomination process or the Scottish Learning Disability Awards 2020, please don’t hesitate to contact the Scottish Commission for Learning Disability, on 0141 248 3733 or via email at awards@scld.co.uk.

The NPFS responded to the Scottish Government’s Out of School Care Consultation in December 2019. You can read our response on the download link below.

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Calling all Scottish School Pupils: Do you want to be in with a chance to discuss climate change with the First Minister? The Scottish Government have re-opened two climate change competitions that were originally launched during Climate Week 2019. Enter their Competitions now!
👉 bit.ly/37Hlo5n

 

 

Additional Links:

Photo Competition for Primary Schools:
👉 https://bit.ly/35G7Chf

 

Writing Competition for Secondary Schools:
👉 https://bit.ly/2skILBi

Our latest e-newsletter is now available!

You can read our December 2019 e-newsletter by clicking here.

If you would like to be added to our mailing list to receive the newsletter directly to your email address then subscribe here, or drop us an email at office@npfs.org.uk.

This week is Empowering Parents and Carers Week!

It is important to give Parents and Carers a voice when it comes to their child’s Education. When parents are involved in their children’s learning, it benefits children, families and schools: children do better.

We asked one of our NPFS Parent Reps to describe what Empowerment means to them, including highlighting some examples which exemplify Empowerment.

Have a read below!

 

 

To me Parental Empowerment allows parents to feel that they are wanted and required as part of solutions when it comes to ensuring our young people have the best education possible, no matter what the family circumstances are or the individual educational capabilities.

Whilst I cannot say parental involvement at our school is perfect, or that it’s been an easy journey, we’ve come a long way since my daughter started nursery 14 years ago. At that time, parents were considered to be very much in the same category as children at the time “seen and not heard” but it’s now a much more level playing field. We now have Parent Councils in our schools and a city-wide parent liaison group. Our City Council always consults our Parent Council Forum (as well as the wider parents from all schools) on all things educational that should have parental involvement, and we have two parent reps (with full voting rights) on our Council’s Education Committee. We also have a voice at a national level with a rep on the National Parent Forum of Scotland (NPFS).

Going forward, I’m very hopeful that the “empowered system” will lead to greater cooperation between all those involved in our children’s learning and development. Parents have a huge influence on their children’s attitude to education so it’s reassuring that we’re finally being recognised as equal partners. It’ll take genuine and sincere effort from all those involved, but I’m looking forward to seeing it develop and make an impact on our children’s day-to-day progress.

 

 

Look out for our Tweets (@parentforumscot) each day this week to follow our social media campaign, which aims to raise awareness of the Empowerment Agenda and what that means for Parents and Carers.

Thursday, 5th December 2019
The NPFS launches new Empowering Parents and Carers Nutshell

 

The National Parent Forum of Scotland (NPFS) is pleased to launch its new Empowering Parents and Carers nutshell, which highlights parents and carers as equal partners in the ‘empowered system’ of learning and education in Scotland.

Scottish Government and COSLA (Convention of Scottish Local Authorities) have committed to building “an empowered, connected, self-improving education system” which encourages collaboration and mutual respect between all partners. It is about all key stakeholders working together to improve outcomes for children and young people. This includes the learners themselves as well as parents and carers, school staff, local government, Scottish Government and other organisations involved in the lives of children.

 

Today our Chair, Joanna Murphy, said:

“This is an exciting time for parents. Instead of being on the outskirts of our children’s education, the “Empowered System” recognises parents as equal partners.

All learning experiences impact how our children learn about the world and develop into capable and confident adults. When every parent is engaged in their children’s learning, children do better.

From the time they are born, and throughout their childhood, parents are the key educators of their children. As children mature, parents are no less engaged but have a new role supporting their child into adulthood.

Parents value the partnership between their child and school staff, but relationships could be enhanced further. Widening the channels of communication will help learners and their parents become more engaged with learning in schools.”

 

Deputy First Minister, John Swinney, said:

“I welcome the launch of the nutshell guide and hope that it will help parents and carers in their role as an integral part of our empowered education system.

“Parents and carers know their children best and what children learn from parents, they absorb for life. Parents and carers are an integral part of building a strong and sustainable education system and ensuring that we achieve the best end result for all of our children and young people.”

 

 

This publication joins the wide offering of ‘Nutshells’ which offer parent friendly information on the education of our children and can be downloaded from the NPFS website here.

 

 

 

*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 https://www.npfs.org.uk for more details.

This week is Empowering Parents and Carers Week!

It is important to give Parents and Carers a voice when it comes to their child’s Education. When parents are involved in their children’s learning, it benefits children, families and schools: children do better.

We asked one of our NPFS Parent Reps to describe what Empowerment means to them, including highlighting some examples which exemplify Empowerment.

Have a read below!

 

As a parent, I’m encouraged by our primary school to be involved in what our children are learning: we are invited to the usual round of school trips, parents’ evenings and celebration days and, in addition, our Head asks us for our opinions all the time.

 

As the Parent Council (PC) Chair some years ago, my big push was on parental engagement, and turning it into something deeper and more meaningful, and not just tokenistic things or using parents as classroom assistants. The expectations from Scottish Government are high and with good reason, and all schools respond to this call in different ways. I felt that our setting could do more to get new and different families engaged in new and different ways, and whilst I am not PC chair any more I am a full and active member of the PC. Yesterday, for instance, I led the first of several workshops on the work of respectme, with the intention of empowering parents to get involved and help develop our positive behaviour policy.

 

Many parents don’t know what they don’t know until someone tells them, and I feel that we all have some responsibility as members of the school community to do our bit and support the school and its efforts to communicate in a meaningful way: ultimately, we all want the same thing – that our children thrive in a safe school where they can grow and be respected and nurtured. I have always encouraged all our families to come along to the PC meetings, or if that isn’t their thing, I’ve had coffee with them in their houses to chat and get their opinions and concerns heard and aired in the right forums.

 

It’s much easier to ‘see’ this in the primary context; things are much less visible at secondary. I think contributors who can keep their eyes on their end goal do all right.  Raising attainment and improving the educational experience for our children is ultimately what matters, and every parent and family has a valuable voice – we just have to learn how to listen to that and encourage them to communicate.

 

There’s no point saying that you “offer opportunities” for engagement and empowerment, or learning and sharing on curriculum matters, if those opportunities don’t come with accessible features – like childcare, or disabled toilet facilities – or if they are being delivered in an inaccessible way. I think it is the job of the Parent Council to challenge the school when these things don’t hit the mark and don’t reach the people they are supposed to be talking to.

 

I’d like to see less defensiveness from one of the schools I work with, which is possibly a universal cry. I’m pretty sure a significant part of the problems for parents comes from lack of information about procedure, framework, ethos….  Most families want to hear more, understand better and communicate with the school so they can keep track of what’s going on and how they can support their children.

 

-A parent-led uniform bank has been established at one local school.

-One school revamped how the Parent Council was doing things and in one session trebled attendance at meetings.

-One secondary school has multiple external agencies working within the school to support children and their carers, many of which link with home, which empowers families that are harder to reach and gives them a voice

-Children and young people are encouraged in our cluster to do things for themselves, as independently as possible, so they are learning from a very young age how to make things happen and how to collaborate effectively. One nursery class came up with the idea they’d like to stage The Gruffalo…. and the wonderful early years staff helped it to happen some weeks later. The children did everything – literally. It was an incredible thing to see and the project actually won an education award.

 

 

Look out for our Tweets (@parentforumscot) each day this week to follow our social media campaign, which aims to raise awareness of the Empowerment Agenda and what that means for Parents and Carers.

Have you heard of the Empowerment Agenda?
Each week of the campaign focuses on a different segment of the Empowerment Jigsaw.

This week it’s Parents and Carers and NPFS are leading on this segment of the jigsaw.

It is important to give Parents and Carers a voice when it comes to their child’s Education.

When parents are involved in their children’s learning, it benefits children, families and schools: children do better.

Look out for our Tweets (@parentforumscot) each day this week to follow our social media campaign, which aims to raise awareness of the Empowerment Agenda and what that means for Parents and Carers.

👉 Click here to learn more about Scotland’s Empowered Education Scotland.

Every day across Scotland, Skills Development Scotland (SDS) advisers help people of all ages to take control of their future through their career information, advice and guidance services.

The world of work is changing and your career may need to change too. Find out how you can access free support from Scotland’s careers service, delivered by Skills Development Scotland.

Whatever age you are, Skills Development Scotland’s careers service encourages you to come and find out more and get the support you need. Their service is not just in schools but also in centres, community venues and premises and on My World of Work.

Click here for more information.